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The use of community surveys for health planning: the experience of 56 northwest rural communities

Hagopian, A., House, P., Dyck, S., LeMire, J., Billett, D., Knievel, M., Hart, L.G.
Journal of rural health 2000 v.16 no.1 pp. 81-90
health services, rural communities, surveys, community development, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming
A rural health services development program of the University of Washington School of Medicine has worked for 15 years with communities throughout the five-state region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming to strengthen their health systems. In the course of that work, 56 communities were surveyed about their utilization and opinions of local health systems. This database allows the following generalizations to be made about rural Northwest communities: (1) People think highly of their local hospitals, physicians and other key components of the acute medical care system and want their hospitals to remain open. Older respondents are more satisfied than younger respondents; (2) the typical hospital market share is 36 percent, the typical physician market share is 50 percent (3) satisfaction with discrete, well-funded services such as pharmacy, ambulance and dentistry is quite high, whereas satisfaction with mental health and substance abuse treatment is significantly lower; (4) the most commonly cited serious problems in surveyed communities were "too few physicians or services" and "care is too expensive"; and (5) there is great variation between communities in both satisfaction and utilization.