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Hospital for Special Surgery Community Programs Address Musculoskeletal Health Needs in the NY Metropolitan Area

New York, NY—November 8, 2017

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) plans to implement targeted, educational programs to address the musculoskeletal and rheumatologic health needs of its diverse community. The hospital recently conducted a survey to identify the muscle, bone, and joint health needs of people living in the five boroughs of New York City, and nearby suburban areas. Efforts were made to assess information from residents in all socioeconomic groups.  A similar study was also conducted last year for people living in lower Fairfield and upper Westchester counties.

Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis were the most common diagnosed musculoskeletal conditions affecting survey participants, HSS researchers found. Among respondents diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition, the most reported symptoms experienced within 30 days were joint or bone pain (88%), stiffness (82%), and muscle pain (80%). Falls were also a significant issue in the community: 25% of respondents said they had fallen in the past year, and 18% had sustained a fracture when they fell. HSS presented the study results at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Atlanta on November 8.

"HSS is committed to improving the musculoskeletal health needs of New Yorkers, including culturally diverse communities," said Titilayo Ologhobo, associate director of Outcomes in the Public & Patient Education Department at HSS. "To do so, we needed to first understand the needs in order to identify gaps in care and any health disparities."

An anonymous, large-scale Community Health Needs Assessment questionnaire – available in English, Spanish, and Chinese – was conducted between March 1, 2016 and April 15, 2016. Researchers also conducted limited outreach via social media. Target communities included Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island; and suburban areas surrounding NYC (Paramus, NJ).

Survey questions highlighted health status and quality of life; health behavior and lifestyle; use of and access to care; and socio-demographic characteristics. A total of 3,182 people responded to the survey, ranging in age from 18 to 100, with 45% representing a socioeconomic diverse population. The majority of respondents were female (74%). Educational awareness and lack of confidence in managing chronic conditions were significant issues. Cost was the leading barrier to accessing healthcare.

In addition to the survey, the public was also heavily engaged in community health forums that  provided valuable insight into public and patient needs. Four community forums were held in surrounding senior centers and community-based events where participants were asked to rank their health needs. A total of 113 community members attended the community forums.

Significant health needs were ranked from 1 to 22. Top ranked health need received 22 points while the least ranked health need received 1 point. Ranking results revealed the top five health priorities are joint/bone pain; osteoarthritis; osteoporosis; rheumatoid arthritis; and obesity.

Additional survey results:

  • 78% rated their health positively
  • 67% reported stooping, bending, or kneeling as the most challenging daily activity
  • 66% of adults aged 50 and older were physically inactive
  • 50% reported pain interference with daily activities
  • 20% rated their diet as poor

HSS is able to strengthen its community education initiatives by collaborating with community organizations, public schools, city and state agencies, universities, clinical settings, and the private sector.

Applying the data collected from the survey, HSS will begin to offer programs providing preventive care and management of musculoskeletal and rheumatologic conditions,  as well as advise the community on a healthy diet and physical activity to combat obesity.

"The study’s findings allow us to focus on the specific needs of our community members in order to serve them best. As an international leader in orthopedics and rheumatology, our mission is to provide the highest quality patient care to all," said Laura Robbins, DSW, senior vice president, Global & Academic Affairs.



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