THUNDER BAY—The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is conducting a Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, during a 12-month time period.
In a news release to residents in the Northwest Region including Terrace Bay/Schreiber, Greenstone, Marathon, Manitouwadge and Nipigon-Red Rock, the TBDHU shared that, “From September 2022-August 2023, the Institute for Social Research at York University will be conducting a survey of Thunder Bay District residents, and those in the region aged 18+ on behalf of the TBDHU.”
The survey known as the RRFSS, intends to ask questions about public health topics that matter, including mental health, food access, physical activity and more. According to their notice, TBDHU indicated that the survey will be collecting general background information including your age, as well.
In addition, the TBDHU added that, “The answers from this survey will assist TBDHU in understanding local public health needs and how we might better serve you, our residents.”
Adena Miller, Epidemiologist with the TBDHU, offered further clarification about this survey, including why the TBDHU wants residents in Thunder Bay and the other Northwest Region communities mentioned, to participate.
Miller highlighted the fact that too often when surveys are conducted, data for smaller communities is not always accessible, at a community level, because of the small number of participants. “With larger-scale health surveys, due to small numbers of participants, we are not always able to see data at a community level for our smaller communities – often, we can only analyze data at the level of the entire Thunder Bay District Health Unit. But we know through our work in your communities, that each of them has their own unique characteristics, and, public health needs,” explained Miller.
Miller further explained that with more participants willing to participate in this survey, it would allow then to gain a clearer picture of the different public health needs both at a local and region level.
“With a survey like RRFSS, if we can achieve enough participation from our District communities, we will be able to see the different public health needs at a more local or regional level rather than needing to look at the needs of our health unit as a whole. This will allow the TBDHU and community partners to prioritize and tailor health programming in your communities,” added Miller.
The RRFSS will be using what Miller described as “a sampling strategy” whereby residents outside of Thunder Bay will be called randomly by the researchers each month.
“With RRFSS, we are using a sampling strategy that ensures a certain number residents of our District communities outside of Thunder Bay (Terrace Bay/Schreiber, Greenstone, Marathon, Manitouwadge, and Nipigon/Red Rock) are randomly called by the researchers each month, in hopes that we can obtain a sufficient number of responses from these communities,” explained Miller. “So, if you receive a call from researchers from RRFSS on behalf of the TBDHU, we encourage you to participate!”
TBDHU’s Epidemiologist, Adena Miller offered further information regarding the online participation component of the RRFSS. For online participation a link will be provided soon via TBDHU’s social media platforms.
“In October, we (TBDHU) will also be sharing information about how you can do the survey online through a link, too. Stay tuned for this information on social media! This is an easy and convenient way to participate in the survey. We hope we can get some participation from District communities using this method, too,” stated Miller.
Once the data has been collected TBDHU has specific plans for sharing the data. “Once this data collection period is finished next year, our epidemiology team will take some time to analyze and present the data in a meaningful way. We plan to share the results of this round of RRFSS, along with previous data collected in 2019, in a report on our website,” stated Miller.
“We will also share this data with partners in your community. Depending on the number of responses received from our District communities, we may be able to publicly share results at a regional level. Note: individual response data will never be shared; results will only be shared at an aggregated level,” assured Miller.
The TBDHU believes that surveying residents at this time will also allow for comparisons to data collected pre-pandemic.
The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, is completely voluntary, and all responses remain anonymous and confidential. No other information will be gathered except your answers to the questions.
When you receive a call from researchers from RRFSS on behalf of the TBDHU, they encourage you to participate.
For more information about RRFSS, please visit the website: http://www.rrfss.ca.