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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.


About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic of musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


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