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Greater Worcester COVID-19 Community Health Survey underway

Regional survey to assess pandemic impact will help local communities target relief efforts

UMass Medical School, in collaboration with the City of Worcester and and the Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance, is conducting the Greater Worcester COVID-19 Community Health Survey.

UMass Medical School is conducting the Greater Worcester COVID-19 Survey in Worcester, Grafton, Holden, Leicester, Millbury, Shrewsbury and West Boylston to assess how the novel coronavirus has impacted the region.

“Everyone has been affected somehow, in some way, shape or form by this pandemic, even if they didn’t have symptoms or weren’t diagnosed,” said Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD, professor of population & quantitative health sciences, chief of the department’s Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine and co-director of the UMass Chan Prevention Research Center at UMMS. “The goal of the data is to help community leaders understand how our community members have been affected to inform how they can use their resources to meet needs.”

The online survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete, asks respondents about changes in their lives due to COVID since March 10, including their health, finances, activities outside the home, access to medical care, employment, housing and food security. Questions also capture demographics including, age, gender identity, race, education, military service and income. The names of the street a respondent lives on and the closest cross street will be vital for understanding circumstances in specific neighborhoods. Providing contact information is optional for respondents who want to receive survey results, and who are willing to be contacted about the survey. The survey also provides a list of local resources for households experiencing distress due to COVID-19.

Data collected will be analyzed and reported back to the communities.

“We proposed a community-facing survey and our entire department ran with implementing it, to take the data the community provides and share it back with them as a service to the community,” said Sharina Person, PhD, vice chair and professor of population & quantitative health sciences. “We will use their information to create a feedback loop that will be useful for our partners.”

Dr. Lemon, Dr. Person and colleagues in the Department of Population & Quantitative Health Sciences created the survey in collaboration with the City of Worcester and the Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance. The Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester is coordinating outreach efforts.

“Our audience for the data is very broad. We have relationships with a variety of community organizations who have mobilized to address the pandemic and we want to do our part to help out,” said Lemon. “We think that the data that we're collecting will be useful to a lot of those organizations for many reasons. This is a community service initiative.”

The UMMS team will create reports and webinars to present the findings. They will be able to design customized reports that target specific areas of need identified by the survey.

“This effort is perfectly in alignment with the goals of our department to improve public health and eliminate health disparities,” said Person. “The information that will be gathered from the survey and can be acted upon speaks to science that really makes a difference.”

The larger the number of eligible respondents who take the survey