- “In general, would you say that your health is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?”
- “Thinking about your physical health, which includes physical illness and injury, for how many days during the past 30 days was your physical health not good?”
- “Thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?”
After you take that survey and it becomes a dim memory other people are tabulating the answers and using them as the statistical base of a nationwide study. You should have been more careful how you answered, you may have just increased your taxes. Yes, if you're not feeling well there's a politician out there ready to use it as an excuse to initiate a solution.
The answers to those three questions are the basis for fomulating statistics in the following three areas:
- Poor or fair health.
- Poor physical health days.
- Poor mental health days.
Those three statistics, along with one other statistic - low birth weight, are used in calculating the level of morbidity in a survey area. Usually when you hear the word morbidity you would think of "morbidly obese" or of someone who is constantly missing work due to chronic bad health. That is not the case here, adult body weight or work loss days do not make up this statistic. The majority of the morbidity ranking is based on your survey answers in that phone call.
So you could have a low birth weight rating that is about average but if enough people answer their phone poll negatively you will end up with a high morbidity ranking. That is the case with Northampton county, our morbidity ranking consistently stinks. So please, when you get that call, paint on a smile and look on the brighter side of life!
So why does any of this matter? Why would a survey that is so obviously subjectively weighted according to the mood or temperment of the respondents mean anything in the real world? The answer lies in who makes use of these surveys, policy advocates and political wonks.
That morbidity rating is presented as an "ironclad case" by a policy advocate for the formation of a bi-county health board in this article on the local Patch news service. Then that article is picked up by another writer as proof positive that we need to vote out the "pro-morbidity" politicians that oppose the health board. Read it here. But no one reading these articles knows what goes into formulating this very subjective morbidity ranking. But now you know.
So your cranky answer on that phone survey gave one set of politicians an excuse to create a program and caused another group to be labeled "pro-morbidity". You really need to be more careful of what you say on the phone when somone asks, "How you doin'?"
The survey results are found HERE. Poking around that site on the individual rankings will give you all the information about it found in this article.