Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Data Reveal Health Problems, Risks by Neighborhood

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Data from a new Utah Department of Health (UDOH) report are being used to identify links between risk and health problems that impact “small areas” across the state. 

“Small areas” refers to a set of 63 geographic locales in Utah grouped by ZIP code and according to similar population sizes and political boundaries. These areas are especially useful for assessing health needs at the community level and targeting programs to those at greatest risk for injury and poor health outcomes. 

“This is the first time our department has put together a report with such a broad set of health indicators by Utah Small Areas,” said Michael Friedrichs, UDOH epidemiologist. “The indicators were chosen because they relate to long-term health outcomes in our state’s chronic disease and health promotion plan, and are critical to improving Utahns’ overall health.” 

The report identified six communities with both significantly higher rates of asthma emergency department visits and adults exposed to secondhand smoke. The areas include Kearns, Downtown Salt Lake City, Glendale, South Salt Lake, West Valley East, and Ben Lomond. Conversely, the same pattern was true for 10 small areas with significantly lower asthma ED visits and a lower percentage of adults exposed to secondhand smoke (Cache County Other/Rich County, Bountiful, Farmington/Centerville, Riverton/Draper, South Jordan, Cedar City, Summit County, American Fork/Alpine, Springville/Spanish Fork, and Utah County South). 

We know from national studies that environmental triggers like secondhand smoke play an important role in asthma severity and management,” said Lori Mau, UDOH Asthma Program. “The data underscore why it’s important to identify and control multiple asthma triggers at the same time, rather than focusing on just one management strategy,” Mau added. 

Tobacco use in Utah was also studied. “Even though Utah has the lowest smoking rate in the nation, we still have more than 200,000 tobacco users,” said Adam Bramwell, UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “The report is incredibly important to our smoking cessation efforts, as it shows right where tobacco users live. Now we’ll use the information to connect those residents to Utah’s many tobacco cessation resources available at our new website,” Bramwell said.

The report summarizes data on 17 different topics presented in tables, graphs, and maps to help the reader see where health problems are concentrated and how they may impact each other. Topics in the report include:

Prescription Opioid Deaths
Cancer Deaths
Cardiovascular Disease Deaths
Current Adult Cigarette Smokers
Adult Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Obese Adults
Physically Active Adults
Fall Hospitalizations, Ages 65+
Infants Receiving First Trimester Prenatal Care
Female Breast Cancer Screenings, Ages 40+
Colon Cancer Screenings, Ages 50+
Pre-diabetic Adults
Adults Controlling High Blood Pressure
Diabetic Adults Receiving Diabetes Education
Asthma Emergency Department Visits
Adults with Arthritis Limited by Arthritis 
For a full copy of the Bureau of Health Promotion Small Area Report, visit

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Media Contacts:

Michael Friedrichs (o) 801-538-6244 
Adam Bramwell (m) 801-380-0780