Recently, the Missoula City-County Health Department announced they would be conducting the Community Health Assessment 2023 or CHA.
You may have taken a similar survey in the past. Part of the reason the survey is being sent out again is in order to compare results and observe any trends.
As with any survey, there can be a lot of questions the public might have about the survey they want answered before filling out the survey. We asked Michael Gardner, Missoula Health Department Accreditation Coordinator, some common questions about the survey. Read on to learn more.

Q: Some people may receive a postcard in the mail about this survey. Others may find a link online. Should everyone take the survey?

A: More responses are always better. To give us the ability to compare the health needs of different income groups – we used census data to select parts of the city to send postcards to city residents based on the average income of an area defined by the census bureau. They are asked to then enter a code that identifies which census area they live within. 

At the same time, all households outside of the Missoula city limits are asked to take the survey at https://missoula.co/healthsurvey. We did not send postcards to these households as we are working to replicate the survey conducted in 2018 as a part of our last Community Health Assessment to compare the results and see if there are changing trends in the health needs, and the strengths of, those community we surveyed before. 

Q: What are some specific ways the results of this survey will be used?

A: The most direct way we will be using the results of this survey is using it to help guide discussions as we work with partners and community members to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan. Working on the Community Health Improvement plan gives our community to opportunity to look at our community’s health needs and how different organizations can work together to achieve a larger goal than one individual organization would be able to achieve. 

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It also gives us a chance to see if the health needs the Health Department views as the primary health needs of the community are in line with the health needs the community identifies and reflect on the result of that is there is a disconnect between us and our community. 

Q: What would you say to anyone who might have concerns about sharing their health information?

A: We’re not asking questions about what conditions folks have, like, “do you have asthma?” Instead, we’re asking questions closer to, “how important is addressing asthma to you?” We’re asking which health needs the community feels are most important to address, and what strengths they feel their community has which could help address those needs. Because we’re looking at our community heath needs, if someone does disclose medical information to us it would just be used as context for community health needs while protecting the individual. We’ve also taken many steps to ensure households who respond to the survey remain anonymous.

Q: Is there any funding for the Health Department that is dependent or available because of this Assessment?

A: Many of our programs – and many of our community partners – rely on the Community Health Assessment as an important tool in the process of applying for various grants and other forms of funding. Without the Community Health Assessment, it would be more difficult for ourselves and our partners to apply for funding from external organizations like the State of Montana, The Federal government, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and others. 

While it is not funding, the Missoula City-County Health Department is an accredited health department through the Public Health Accreditation Board, and was among the earliest to achieve it in 2014. The requirements to maintain this are based on increased transparency and accountability for health department actions. The Community Health Assessment is one of these requirements as it helps focus our activities to be more collaborative and based on community needs, and increases opportunities for us to work with the community and partners. 

The Community Health Assessment Survey closes on Sunday, August 20. Help Missoula County's health partners by completing the survey at this link.

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