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Mental health; nutrition, physical activity and weight; and access to health services were the top issues facing the health of Quad City residents, according to a report released last week.

Those main issues, identified in the counties' 2019 Community Health Improvement Plan, were developed through workshops with community stakeholders, including Transitions Mental Health, Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health-Trinity, the Scott County Health Department and Rock Island County Health Department.

A major part of the plan was done through the use of four assessments with Mobilizing Through Action with Partnership and Planning. "MAPP provided a framework for conducting both the community health assessment and health improvement plan in an efficient, evidence-based manner," the plan reads.

The Community Health Assessment, conducted in September 2018 with the help of six stakeholder groups, helped guide the choice of top priority areas for the health improvement plan. 

Mental health

The four assessments found that the percentage of individuals citing "fair" to "poor" mental health has increased from 8.9 percent in 2007 to 17.6 percent in 2018. The highest rates were among women, adults from 18-39 and low-income individuals. An increasing number of residents also reported difficulty in accessing mental health services; 35.1 percent reported it as "fair/poor," a significant increase from 12.6 percent in 2002.

Overcoming barriers that limit access to mental health, advocating for public policy that allows for flexibility and integrated care and enhancing mental health education are listed as goals in the CHIP. 

Physical health

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Nutrition, physical activity and weight were key, interconnected priorities, the plan says. The assessments showed around 24 percent of Quad-Cities adults met physical activity recommendations, similar to the national average of 22.8 percent. However, children with an hour or more of physical fitness daily dropped from 57.5 in 2015 to 49.9 in 2018. 

Nearly three out of four adults in the Quad-Cities are considered overweight or obese, worse than the averages in Iowa, Illinois or the nation. That was cited as a major concern.

The plan set goals of promoting changes in policy, systems and the environment to improve physical activity, weight and nutrition; engaging community partners in creating a strategy toward regional health; and raising awareness and connecting individuals to nutrition and physical activity resources are the major goals for this priority in the CHIP.

Access to health services

While the percentage of adults reporting a lack of health insurance coverage is lower in the Quad-Cities than the national average, the number of adults reporting difficulties or delays in receiving medical treatment rose from 33.8 percent in 2012 to 43.8 percent in 2018. 

"Respondents in the quantitative assessment were asked if they had encountered specific barriers to accessing health care services, including getting a doctor’s appointment, inconvenient office hours, the cost of the doctor’s visit, the cost of prescriptions, finding a doctor, lack of transportation, and language/culture," the plan reads. "With the exception of prescription costs and language/culture barriers, each access barrier has significantly increased over time."

Demographic groups that were more likely to report difficulties included young adults, low- and very-low-income adults and African Americans.

Improving education and health care outreach, promoting the use of the right care at the right time at the right cost, and improving coordination of wraparound service and education for providers are the three goals of the final priority. 

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