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Massive "Small-Areas" Study First-of-this-Size for Utah Department of Health

File: Utah Department of Health

A massive study released Thursday by the Utah Department of Health breaks down the entire state into 63 small areas, each with their own specific health factors. The research looked at 17 different topics from suicides, and adult cigarette smoking to colon cancer screening 50+ and hospitalization from a fall. Michael Friedrichs is an epidemiologist with the department of health. He says up until now there have only been small area studies looking at individual things like cancer or injury.

“This is the first one that has such a broad range of health topics and so we’re hoping that what communities can do is take this report and look across this broad range of topics and try to get a better picture of the health challenges and health successes as well in their communities,” says Friedricks.

The study finds Kearns area residents with well above state averages for cancer deaths while getting fewer-than-average breast cancer screenings.   

Darrin Sluga is the community development director with the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“Well we feel like this small area data is…like gold.”

Sluga says this information really helps county programs like the Healthy Communities Initiative.

“In public health we like to talk about social determinants of health. And this is where your place, ie, your zip code, may have more to do with your health than your genetic code,” says Sluga.

All the study and its data sets are available at Health.Utah.Gov.      

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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