MAPP releases results of Community Health Needs Assessment

(Image courtesy of MAPP)
(Image courtesy of MAPP)

The southern Kenai Peninsula’s health improvement coalition, MAPP, released the results of its most recent three-year survey on Dec. 9.

MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) gathers data every three years as part of its Community Health Needs Assessment.

The MAPP framework was originally developed by the Centers for Disease Control and adapted to the communities of the southern Kenai Peninsula. The goal of the program is to identify ways to improve health and help spark community action.

Kyra Wagner is a member of the MAPP steering committee. She said MAPP uses a comprehensive approach, combining agency-collected data with community surveys.

“It usually takes about a year to collect all the data,” Wagner said. “Basically, it really comes down to asking all the agencies for any data that they collect. Asking the state to break down data that they do collect into our population center. As far as surveys and perception data, it means hitting the ground with a bunch of surveys. We usually kick it off at the health fair, but then we also send that survey all the up the road to Ninilchik and all the way down out towards to Nanwalek.”

The 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment is the third MAPP has conducted. Wagner said the assessments have highlighted one of the underlying causes of community health problems.

“Through the data we’ve been able to see that there’s a very specific root cause to a lot of community health issues,” Wagner said. “A lot of it is issues that relate to adverse childhood experiences. It does affect everything from the probability of teenage pregnancy to crime to drug use to obesity. There’s a myriad of things that connect health-wise to how toxic and stressful your childhood environment was.”

But she said data collection is just one component of the program. The MAPP coalition also works to develop ways to address community health issues.

“One of the things about MAPP over the years that we’ve shifted into is the concept that okay we collect this data, now we have to do something with it,” Wagner said. “We’ve gotten tons of organizations behind it saying, this is great. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how each organization under their umbrella can move forward, identifying things that support family well-being.”

Forty local organizations are currently members of the MAPP coalition, including Sustainable Homer, Sprout Family Services and Homer United Methodist Church.

Hannah Gustafson is the MAPP coordinator. She said the MAPP coalition is uniquely poised to address community health issues.

“We have this really strong foundation below us, with data, with collaborations, with work groups already in formation,” Gustafson said. “It’s an exciting time to be having these conversations.”

The full results of the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment are available online at www.mappofskp.net