Lowell General Hospital, in partnership with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, commissioned the University of Massachusetts Lowell to conduct an assessment of community health needs for the Greater Lowell area, which includes the towns of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, and Westford. The purpose of this assessment includes evaluating the overall health of residents by involving a broad spectrum of community members, identifying the top health issues and strengths and weaknesses of the healthcare network, recommending actions to address priority concerns, and providing information that informs a community process to build consensus around strategies to improve the health of Greater Lowell residents.
This report summarizes the major findings from our community health needs assessment. Primary data collection included interviews with four key informants and sixteen focus groups with 167 participants, and secondary data sources included demographic, socioeconomic, and public health data, as well as local reports.
The top health problems that were identified in the focus groups and interviews in order of preference and supported by public health data include:
- mental health (e.g., depression)
- substance abuse
- hypertension and obesity (had the same level of preference)
- and respiratory diseases (e.g. asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
The residents identified at greatest risk for these and other health problems include those with mental health issues, those with substance abuse/addiction issues, immigrants, refugees, other non-English speakers, and the elderly.