Common Ground Health’s My Health Story 2022 Survey data was designed to be widely shared.

Agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community members often use data to evaluate and/or improve issues of health equity, and the survey data collected from a 12-county region can help them do that in creative ways.

It also can alleviate some pressure for survey participants who find themselves consistently doling out information about their lives and experiences the greater good.

“There’s often an intention to be helpful, but it puts a lot of burden on people who are constantly being asked to talk about their lives,” says Dr. Sarah Farash, a senior research associate at Common Ground Health.

Because local data can be difficult to access as it’s rarely collected at a ZIP-code level—let alone a county level—an agency wanting to inform diversity, equity, and inclusion projects, for example, may ask to see data excerpts from a certain selection of counties to address strengths or disparities.

Without identifying respondents, that granular-level data is mixed with written responses that shine a spotlight on important themes. Questions that arise may include: What does the data say about whether people who live in a specific geographical area are stressed about affording a mortgage or rent? Is transportation a barrier to receive medications or get to appointments or services among people living there?

The answers can lead to an actionable plan or make a future needs assessment more precise, leading to qualitative interviews or focus groups.

“We’re open and available to meet with people who might want to consider using the My Health Story 2022 data for their own explorations,” Dr. Farash says.

Among those who could benefit (as long as there’s a secure place to store data):

•    Grassroots organizations committed to social change
•    Advocacy organizations focused on health equity 
•    College or university professors educating future workforce trainees on social determinants of health

Data accessibility is key.

“The survey was developed with a lot of community engagement, with people who repeatedly gave us their ideas and opinions over a long period of time,” says Dr. Farash, “and it’s most important that the data coming out of this project is used by, and directly useful to, people within their communities as well.”

Also important has been maintaining the integrity of the personal stories captured in the survey. Conclusions could be different depending on the demographic makeup of the geographic region involved, for instance.  Care has been taken to be transparent and specific when fielding data requests to prevent overgeneralizing findings when there are actually nuanced differences in demographics of the respondents in the selected data excerpt.

Common Ground Health strives to support those who want to work with the survey data. The agency can share observations and, depending on the bandwidth of its research and analytics team, put together a one-sentence answer to a question about the data or speak to a group about a topic or community of interest.

Efforts in early 2024 will include building tools to support the team’s internal capacity to process requests from stakeholders and community members more efficiently.

“We want to be able to help and hope people have patience while we get these tools ready to support what we hope is a flood of new requests,” says Dr. Farash.

To inquire about the My Health Story 2022 Survey, or to request a copy, email