PORTLAND — Minority residents of the city and Cumberland County rated the areas and their own lives as healthy in a new survey.
The findings are reported in a Minority Health Report survey of 1,013 residents, released by the city Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program. It was the first such report completed since 2014.
A low crime rate, being a good place to raise children, and access to health care were the three top reasons 64 percent of those surveyed found their communities healthy and 21 percent found them very healthy.
Individually, 52 percent of the respondents felt they were healthy, and 31 percent classified themselves as very healthy.
Risky behaviors of concern were excessive alcohol use, excessive drug use, and housing issues.
Individually, the biggest health problems listed were diabetes, dental problems and high blood pressure.
Survey findings will be shared “to provide community health needs profiles for organizations addressing health needs for these vulnerable communities,” according to an executive summary.
While primarily centered in Portland, where 653, or 61 percent, of the respondents live, the survey drew responses from residents as far away as Bridgton. There were 154 responses from people in Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland, and 166 from communities north and west of Portland.
Surveys were administered verbally by 15 community health outreach workers, called CHOWs in the report.
“CHOWs are trusted, indigenous community members who served as survey implementers in their respective communities,” the report said. The survey was written in English and translated as needed. Those surveyed were also asked to refer others who might participate.
People from 12 different nations, including the U.S., and 11 racial, ethnic, and language groups, were surveyed in homes, schools, stores, offices, businesses and places of worship from Jan. 26-May 14, 2018.
The goal was to reach 1,640 people using census data; ultimately, 1,076 responded. Of those, 53 responses were not considered because they came from zip codes outside Cumberland County.
Of the responses compiled, the largest number came from natives of Iraq and Somalia, and 27 percent of all respondents were 20-29 years old. The second-highest demographic reported was people 30-39 years old. All told, respondents were as old as 80-89 years old, and 51 percent were female.
Of the respondents, 413 identified as black or African American, and 359 as white or Caucasian.
City Public Health Director Dr. Kolawale Bankole said Dec. 27 that $12,000 was budgeted for the survey, including stipends for CHOWs.
“There were lots of partners and collaborators who provided in-kind supports that helped with cost,” Bankole said.
The analysis and a summary of compiled data were done by the University of Southern Maine’s Data Innovation Project.
Dr. Kolawole Bankole, who directs Portland’s Public Health Division, said last month a survey about minority health in the city and Cumberland County cost about $12,000.