Press Release: Chronic Diseases, Mental Health Issues Plague Long Islanders

October 31, 2016

Chronic Diseases, Mental Health Issues Plague Long Islanders

Novel bi-county study reveals concerns expressed by health and social service providers.

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., Oct. 31, 2016 – Official findings released from the Long Island Health Collaborative’s (LIHC) bi-county Qualitative Needs Assessment reveal chronic disease and mental health as top concerns. The findings are a result of two summits that the LIHC held in February 2016 for community-serving professionals. A total of 119 community-based social, health, and human service organizations were represented at the summits, which used facilitated discussions to capture key themes. 

The data collected by court stenographers was transcribed, run through ATLAS.ti qualitative analysis software, categorized, and key-word coded. In the analysis, participants mentioned obesity, which is at the root of many chronic diseases, more than any other exacerbating factor. Diabetes and cancer were considered the most prevalent chronic conditions. According to the World Health Organization, obesity plays a significant role in the onset and management of various chronic conditions.

Participants also spoke about treatment and access barriers faced by community members. The report showed that lack of understanding and awareness of healthcare system navigation is a significant barrier in both counties, with transportation noted as an additional barrier in Suffolk County. Barriers are expressed through social determinants of health – those factors that impact one’s ability to maintain health – such as poverty, education level, housing, transportation, access to affordable healthy foods, among others. Leading public health researchers have concluded that social determinants of health play an even greater role in health outcomes than some clinical interventions. This is why policy and program changes at the broad-based population health level are now embraced by providers, payers, and regulators, and why coordinated care that spans multiple clinical and social support sectors holds the promise to improve overall health outcomes and reduce overall health spending..

The full Qualitative Needs Assessment reports are posted on the LIHC website, along with other primary and secondary data sources and reports that are driving the selection of health priorities and population health activities on Long Island.