UMass Lowell Begins Community Health Needs Assessment

02/24/2010
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

Additional contacts for media:
Erin Sheehan Caples, 978-446-2741, esheehan@saintsmedicalcenter.com
Michelle B. Davis, 978-937-6038, mdavis@lowellgeneral.com

Survey for Lowell Hospitals Asks Area Residents for Opinions on Health Care

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ A team of UMass Lowell researchers and students is working with Lowell General Hospital, Saints Medical Center and the Greater Lowell Health Alliance to talk to local residents about their health needs.

The community health needs assessment will look at unmet health care and public health needs in the Greater Lowell area. The goal is to use the study’s findings to provide a foundation for the hospitals, health alliance, and others to work together to build a consensus on the community’s health needs and what should be done to meet them.

The study will use analysis and reporting from secondary data sources, such as MassCHIP, and three types of community interviewing. Greater Lowell residents are encouraged to contribute to the study by participating in a brief Web-based survey, which will ask about unmet health-care needs and be used to help determine why Lowell area residents go outside the area for hospital services. All responses to the survey are anonymous and confidential.

Anyone 18 years of age or older who lives in Lowell, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro or Westford is eligible for the Web survey, accessible at www.uml.edu/chsurvey.

The UMass Lowell researchers will also conduct focus group and personal interviews with various individuals and community groups. The focus groups involve a small number of people, approximately eight to 12, who will be asked about their perceptions and experiences. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to share information, discuss one another’s answers and indicate agreement (or disagreement). Focus groups, used in what is known as qualitative research, have been shown to be an efficient means of raising issues and forging group consensus. 

The study will be directed by UMass Lowell professors Jim Lee and Leland Ackerson, both of the Department of Community Health and Sustainability within the university’s School of Health and Environment.

Community representatives interested in participating in the study should contact Lee at 978-934-4522 or AJames_Lee@uml.edu.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lowell General and Saints to conduct this important study. It will help us all to plan for the future of health care and health within our community,” said Lee.

“We look forward to hearing the views of community members in order to give us a better picture about what should be done to improve health and health care in the greater Lowell area,” said Ackerson.

Both Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center, like all non-profit hospitals, have an obligation to provide benefits to their communities commensurate with their tax-exempt status. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office asks those hospitals to report annually on their community benefit activities; and directs them to conduct a community health needs assessment study every three years. The assessment’s findings will not identify individuals who participated in the study. The results will be made available to the public, the media and health-related interest groups.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.