Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Public Health Survey

This evening I received a call from the Boston Department of Public Health, conducting a survey about my level of healthiness.  Well, to be honest, this is the second call, but the last one was post-call mid afternoon on a weekend, so I got off the phone quickly.  Understanding my civic duty as a health care and public health professional (and I knew they would keep calling), I undertook the litany of questioning. 

There were approximately 50 questions in topics moving in an orderly progression from demographics to general health to diet (vegetables, fruits and soda), exercise, mood/depression & social support, workplace smoking, walking & biking, neighborhood safety and availability of healthy food, smoking and program awareness.  Notably absent were alcohol related questions.  There were probably more questions if I had answered yes, but that is only conjecture.  (No, I have never smoked a cigar, cigarillo or mini cigar that looks like a cigarette, not even a few puffs.  No, I have not served active duty in the military).

The gentleman calling me had no idea that I was a health professional, and so some of the questions were awkward to answer:  "How often have you felt nervous/jittery/hopeless in the last 30 days?"  I am in the ICU, so the answer is sometimes.  "Has a health professional asked you about smoking in the past 30 days?"  Yes, because my colleagues and some patients are health professionals.

All in all it was an interesting but quite tedious experience.  Given my experience in public health, the data from this survey will inevitably be used as evidence to increase "awareness" funding to various health related programs.  I find this to be unfortunate, because the libertarian in me still thinks that if a program works, it should be so popular as to be self-sustaining and not require an ever enlarging "awareness" budget, culled from the earnings of the citizens it purports to help, but do not voluntarily give over their money.  But alas....

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