Background

The Bridge to Health Survey has been an important source of data on the health status of adults in northeastern Minnesota and Douglas County, Wisconsin for nearly two decades.  The Survey was first conducted in 1995 and again in 2000, 2005, and 2010.  Due to strong support among community and health organizations, another survey will be conducted in 2015.

The major impetus for conducting the survey is a lack of local information on important indicators of health status.  The repetitive nature of the survey process allows for comparisons of the health status of the region’s population over time.

The Bridge to Health Surveys are designed to gather population-based health data on adult residents in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin (total population approximately 395,000).  See side box for specific geographic area covered.

Conducting the Bridge to Health Survey has been a collaborative effort involving organizations representing public health, tribal health services, hospitals, clinics, non-profit agencies, health plans, foundations, and educational institutions.  Please see the Sponsors page for a current list of financial and supporting sponsors.

How Survey Results Have Been Used

The goal of the survey is to provide information that will enable organizations and communities to better understand the health of the region's population.  Area organizations have utilized survey data in a number of ways, i.e., program planning, development of new programs/services, advocacy, evaluation, and fundraising.  The ability to have the data by gender, age, educational status, poverty level, and geography assists in targeting specific populations.

Here are a few examples of how the Bridge to Health Survey results have been utilized:

  • County health departments have utilized the data to formulate community health plans and develop health improvement priorities for individual counties and communities. 
  • Bridge to Health data reported high rates of tobacco use in the region.  Numerous groups in the region used the data for tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives and passing local ordinances for local clean indoor air ordinances.
  • The Lake Superior Community Health Center utilized data showing high rates of the uninsured in northwestern WI to advocate for a federally qualified health center in Superior WI.  Funding was awarded and the clinic opened in 1998.
  • The data was used to obtain grant funds for planning the Rainy Lake Medical Center's Rural Health Clinic in international Falls
  • Local hospitals used the data to evaluate existing programs and identify health improvement opportunities, such as improving cancer and cardiac preventive screenings.
  • The data helped to leverage a $25,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to sponsor a conference on alcohol and tobacco intervention strategies in March 1999. Over 500 adults and youth attended.
  • The data has been used to obtain significant grant funding to address health care access, i.e., federal funding (HRSA) for the Healthy Communities Access Program (2005-2007), and the Statewide Health Improvement Program, (2009). 
  • Survey data is used in program planning and evaluation for the Statewide Health Improvement Program.
  • Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood used the survey results to plan the Fair Food Access Campaign
  • Area media have utilized the Bridge to Health data when reporting on local health issues. 

Survey Topics

  • Current health conditions
  • Lifestyle factors that impact health
    • Nutrition
    • Physical activity
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol use
  • Access to health and dental care
  • Health insurance coverage

 

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Geographic Area of the Survey

Minnesota Counties
  • Aitkin
  • Cook
  • Carlton
  • Itasca
  • Koochiching
  • Lake
  • Pine
  • St. Louis

Wisconsin Counties

  • Douglas