Lee County Iowa Health Needs Assessment

  • Dodds, R.;
  • Olson, G. A.

Lee County, Iowa is located in the southeast tip of Iowa, bordered by both the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers. The flood of 1993 caused a great deal of damage to farmland and many displaced farm family operations. Lee County was designated one of Iowa's flood centers. Farmers from Lee County also participated in a series of focus groups looking at the safety and health implications of the flood to farm families, research that was sponsored through special funding from NIOSH to the University of Iowa's Center for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education and Prevention.

After spending nine months working with immediate health, housing, income and community needs, Iowa State University Extension in conjunction with the Lee County Public Health Planning Committee conducted a survey of families in Lee County to determine health needs as perceived by the residents of the county, particularly in regard to stress and environmental health concerns. A similar survey (excluding environmental health) had been conducted in Lee County in 1988, providing some baseline information.

The survey instrument was developed using the 1988 instrument as much as possible for comparison reasons. Additional items related to environmental health were added with assistance from extension agricultural engineers at Iowa State University. The survey was distributed to 440 Lee County residents randomly selected from voter registration lists, again to facilitate comparisons with the 1988 sample. 156 surveys (35%) were returned. In addition to the overall sample analysis, special populations that were analyzed separately included rural, elderly, and low-income residents.

Flood-related questions indicated stress and depression as major concerns. Information was collected regarding how respondents cope with stress in their life. Results also showed a high level of concern regarding environmental health issues. Questions were asked about opinions on what health issues should receive Lee County tax dollars and what respondents would change about health care in the county.

Survey results are being used in program planning efforts by the agencies involved in the Lee County Health Planning Committee. In addition, public efforts are being undertaken to publicize the results of the survey. Currently under consideration are methods of collecting information from populations under-represented in this sample.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors noted above are from: Iowa State University Extension, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and Iowa State University Extension, Donnelson, Iowa respectively.

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