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Health survey data being analysed

Representatives from the Caribbean Public Health Agency have been in Bermuda to help conduct data analysis from a survey with the purpose of tackling chronic diseases in Bermuda.

The Ministry for Health, Seniors and the Environment initiated the STEPS to a Well Bermuda survey in November 2013 to gather critical information on the population's health.

Almost 1,200 people were surveyed using a combination of self-reported data and objective measurements to identify certain local risk factors for chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Data gathered from the survey will now be analysed and will help to inform new health programmes and initiatives while helping to inform future legislation.

The survey is one of 12 national surveys conducted in the region as part of the Pan-American Health Organisation's STEPwise approach to chronic disease — “a simple, standardised method for collecting, analysing and disseminating data for chronic disease risk factors.”

A “risk factor” is anything that increases the likelihood of developing a chronic non-communicable disease.

The study builds on previous studies conducted here which were based on self-reported data only. When it is released Bermuda's data can be compared to all other countries as the results will feed into a regional Caricom survey as well as global surveys.

Glennis Andall-Brereton, epidemiologist and senior technical officer for non communicable diseases and life course at the Caribbean Public Health Agency, said: “This survey is being done as a means of identifying the risk factors for chronic diseases because what we are aware of is that many of the chronic diseases that we see — heart disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases — have the same risk factors. If we could impact the risk factors we would in fact be impacting those diseases themselves in the long term.

“That is why we are doing the surveys so we can have that information on the risk factors in their specific population so that they will be able to develop interventions to target those risk factors within the populations.”

There are three parts to the STEPS programme. The first gathers data on key risk factors, the second takes in simple physical measurements and the third collects more complex clinical samples for biochemical analysis.

Ms Andall-Brereton said that there had been positive results in the other countries surveyed.

“The history of risk factor surveys for our region dates back to 2007. It is still a relatively short period but people have been able to develop policies to impact problems at the national level.

“Smoking is a major risk factor for health and persons have been able to put in policies that restrict smoking in public places as a direct result of this survey. We were able to identify what sectors of the population are affected by both second hand smoking, and primary smoking.

“Countries have implemented policies which would impact on smoking as a direct result of the data they saw.

“Other countries have initiatives to do with restricting use of some foods in schools.”

The results will be fed into the Well Bermuda Health Promotion Strategy and will assist public health partners and the Ministry of Health in developing programmes and initiatives to combat anything alarming found in the results.

Ms Andall-Brereton added: “We hope Bermuda will press ahead and finalise their results, prepare the survey report and then move to the phase where they use the results to develop some intervention for implementation in Bermuda.”

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Published March 30, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 30, 2015 at 3:27 am)

Health survey data being analysed

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