Shepparton health data released
Published at: 04 Jun 2019
By John Lewis
More people are using health services in Shepparton, less people are smoking, but more people are overweight, data released today from the largest ever health study of the Goulburn Valley shows.
The Crossroads Research Study compiled by the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health gathered information from 1344 adults in 900 households from 2016 to last year.
The new report is a follow-up to an initial study of Shepparton and Mooroopna residents in 2001 to 2003.
The latest report found that 93 per cent of residents had visited a GP in the past year, with 90 per cent satisfied with their GP, medical specialists and hospital care.
The study found that in the past 15 years there has been a decrease in undiagnosed disease, with more people having regular health screenings such as blood pressure, skin and cancer checks.
Rates of smoking have declined to 14 per cent, lower than the earlier figure of 22 per cent and lower than the state average.
Immunisation rates have jumped, with 94 per cent of participants saying they had been immunised for childhood diseases — an increase from 86 per cent in 2001 to 2003.
However, the new study revealed higher levels of psychological distress compared to the Victorian average and other studies.
University of Melbourne rural health expert and the Crossroads study’s lead researcher Professor Lisa Bourke said the aim of the study was to not only improve health services in the Goulburn Valley, but tailor them more specifically to the needs of the community.
‘‘This gives rigorous data to those arguing for improvements to the service,’’ Prof Bourke said.
She said areas of concern were mental health and weight.
The study showed there was a slight rise in the numbers of people at risk of mental illness from 17 per cent to 19 per cent.
As well, 68 per cent of people surveyed indicated they were overweight, an increase since 2001-2003 and more than the state average.
‘‘Consistent with studies in other regions, these concerns remain an area of focus,’’ Prof Bourke said.
Goulburn Valley Primary Care Partnership chief executive Craig Chadwick said the studies were vital in rural environments to ensure service planning was based on robust data.
‘‘We need localised, real time data that reflects the health status, emerging needs and services gaps in our communities,’’ Mr Chadwick said.
Prof Bourke said the research team wished to thank all those who took part in the three-year study for giving up their time and sharing vital information.
A community feedback information session on the findings was held today from noon at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health, 49 Graham St, Shepparton.