THUNDER BAY - Residents of Thunder Bay District communities will have an opportunity to voluntarily take part in a province-wide health surveillance system that, over time, will shed valuable light on the public health needs of local communities.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit encourages local residents to participate in the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). Staff from the project, which is led by York University’s Institute for Social Research, will randomly call 150 people every month for the next year, starting this month. Information gathered from the phone surveys will be used to influence decisions about local public health programming and may also have the added effect of raising community awareness about important public health issues.
“TBDHU is excited about the opportunity to use RRFSS to get valuable data. For the coming year, our focus will be on our communities in the District, as most data we currently have is largely reflective of the City of Thunder Bay” explained Dr. Janet DeMille, Medical Officer of Health at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. “We will learn more about the health behaviours of District residents and priorities can be set that are relevant to these communities.”
Many other Ontario public health agencies have used this efficient and valued system that is considered a prized source of epidemiological information to help plan programs and services. Over time, summary information gathered can be shared with community stakeholders to inform their programs and services, too.
The first round of questions will ask residents about public health topics such as mental health, tobacco use, fruit and vegetable consumption, and immunization. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. It is completely voluntary and all responses remain anonymous and confidential. Respondents can refuse to answer any questions if they are not comfortable with them.
Further information about the surveillance system is available at www.rrfss.ca.