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Community Health Assessment Reveals Issues in Quad Cities Health Outcomes

A new report shows shows significant gaps when it comes to health quality and access in the Quad Cities.

It also shows that many issues are made worse by social conditions like poverty and income inequality.

The 2021 Community Health Assessment reveals the number of people who identified their health as “fair” or “poor” rose from 19% in 2018 to 25% this year. That's compared to 17% in the United States, 18% in Illinois and 14% in Iowa.

The report shows a greater proportion of Quad Citians are overweight than the national average. The average is 75%, compared to 61% nationally. In the obese category, the local average is 41%, while the national rate is 31%.

30% of Quad Citians are diagnosed with depression compared to 20% nationally. Lower health outcomes were reported most often among adults ages 40-64, Black respondents, and adults in very low-income households.

Christy Roby Williams, director of Muscatine County Public Health, says one of the issues highlighted the most was difficulty accessing and navigating health care.

"We're pretty rich in resources for health care services and infrastructure. It's just understanding how to access that care, and desire for navigation. For someone to walk alongside someone else, understanding those social determinants and how they impact optimal health outcomes, and helping navigate which systems and how you get into services."

The report also highlighted local improvements: fewer people smoke, more have health insurance coverage and more older adults have had flu vaccinations in the past year. The Quad Cities also beats the national average on indicators including the percentage of adults who have visited a dentist recently, have been screened for diabetes, and have died in motor vehicle crashes.

The report included a community survey of 1,150 individuals in Scott, Rock Island and Muscatine counties, plus input from 26 focus groups across the area.

The full assessment and a link to a survey can be found at HealthForecast.net, and questions can be directed to the Quad City Health Initiative.

Aaryan Balu first set foot in audio journalism at WTJU Charlottesville and WRIR Richmond, and now works as WVIK Quad Cities NPR's Fellowship Host.