The Community Themes and Strengths Assessment provides qualitative information on how communities perceive their health and quality of life concerns, as well as, their knowledge of community assets and resources. It informs a deep understanding of the issues that residents feel are important by answering the questions:
“What is important to our community?”
“How is quality of life perceived in our community?”
“What assets do we have that can be used to improve community health?”
For the CTSA, two methodologies were used to collect community input. These included a survey that was mailed to a random sample of residents and focus group discussions targeting four populations groups.
The survey questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 1,000 adult Geauga County residents selected from current registered voters. The survey consisted of 26-questions divided into three sections. The first section posed ten questions that gathered perceptions about the quality of life in Geauga County using anchored Likert scale questions. The second section asked participants to rank the three most important factors for a healthy community, health problems in the community, risk behaviors, and community assets from lists provided. Respondents could add their own response to the list provided. The third section gathered demographic information of respondents.
A total of 384 surveys (38.4%), sufficient to generalize the results, were returned and analyzed. While the demographics indicated that the sample was largely representative of the population based on US Census Bureau estimates, nearly two times as many women participated than men. Overall, the respondents were favorable about the quality of life in Geauga County. The strongest indications were that Geauga County is a safe place to live. The weakest indications were that Geauga County may not be the best place to grow old, with an expressed need for better housing and shopping choices and an inadequate public transportation system. Overall, respondents felt strongly that they alone or with others can make Geauga County a better place to live.
Survey respondents identified good schools, safe neighborhoods, and good jobs and economy as the most important factors for a healthy community. Respondents identified obesity and overweight, cancer, and aging as the most important health problems in the community. Alcohol and drug use were by far the highest risk behaviors, followed by poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Respondents identified safe neighborhoods, Geauga County’s rural atmosphere, churches, and its people as its most important assets.
Resident views were also gathered from 26 people at four different focus group discussions. Focus groups targeted adult Geauga County residents that were Amish, Hispanic, African American, and 65-years or older. Participants spent about 90 minutes discussing similar questions, including defining a healthy community, discuss and prioritize health problems experienced by these groups, identifying the most important community assets, and describing needs.
For residents 65-years and older, discussion centered on health issues related to aging and the importance of community centers, such as the Department on Aging senior centers, as important gathering places. Seniors expressed the need for affordable senior housing and better public transportation.
Amish residents focused on the need for better road safety and improved access to oral health care, while listing the Geauga County Public Library Bookmobile and neighbors as the most important assets in the community. Participants discussed the importance of access to affordable healthy food and preventive health care as vital to improving health outcomes.
Hispanic residents identified the need for improved access through the provision of translation services or English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Participants recognized that their small numbers in Geauga County resulted in less visibility to community agencies.
African American residents discussed the importance of personal responsibility in health issues, including diet, exercise, and parenting. Participants identified the Chagrin Falls Park Community Center as invaluable to improving the health of the community through its educational and economic outreach programs.
One common theme that emerged from the survey and focus groups was that the quality of life in Geauga is associated with safe neighborhoods and low crime, and the weakest quality of life indicator was Geauga County as a place to grow old. However, both the survey respondents and focus group participants felt empowered to improve the quality of life and thus the health of the community.
View the complete 2011 Community Themes & Strengths Assessment report