Project Description

Needs Assessment Survey

One of our early projects , was a needs assessment to grasp a better understanding of the health status of the Tamil population. The research targeted Tamil-speaking individuals and was conducted through a convenience sampling method at two various events (CMR Star Fest and TVI Kondaattam). A total of 284 surveys were completed! We used these results to determine our strategic directions and research priorities for the upcoming years.

Recognizing the lack of research on the health of Tamil Canadians, a community based needs assessment approach was used to collect baseline demographic and health profile data. The goal is to utilize the data collected from the needs assessment to determine the health priorities, strengths and needs of the Tamil community. The baseline data is further intended to aid in program planning initiatives, health promotion, and to be used as pre-intervention data to evaluate the effectiveness of health programs.

The Background

  • In the 2011 Census, 95% of the 111,060 individuals in Ontario who reported Tamil as their mother tongue resided in the Greater Toronto Area (ref).
  • A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found South Asians (the general ethnic group Tamils are identified under) in Canada to have the highest mortality rates due to coronary heart disease in comparison to Chinese and European ethnic groups.
  • The community needs assessment was conducted via a paper/electronic questionnaire administered by 20 English and Tamil speaking volunteers.
  • These items explored the population’s self-reported health conditions, perceived health needs, barriers to improving health and accessing healthcare services, source of health information, and attitudes and practices of healthy living

The Results

  • The resulting numbers suggest that 43% of our sample population (n=101) was overweight, putting them at increased risk for health conditions such as diabetes. This was followed by 30% (n=73) in the normal BMI category and 21% of respondents (n=49) in the obese category.
  • The self reported health conditions portion of the needs assessment revealed that diabetes and high blood pressure were the top two conditions present within our sample population.
  • 17% who reported having joint or back pain and 12% reported to be overweight
  • How this group compares with the general Canadian population is a critical component for the implementation of evidenced-based initiatives that are specific to the background, culture and lifestyle of the Tamil population.

Our Conclusion

The need for improving health for all Canadians is evident by the growing rate of obesity and chronic disease within the population. However, research by the Canadian Council on Learning demonstrated that 60% of Canadian adults over the age of 16, and 88% of seniors over the age of 65, lack the skills required to understand and act on health services and information (PHABC, 2012). Immigrant populations were stated as more vulnerable to lacking health literacy. In our survey, despite the fact that 43% of the sample population was overweight and 21% obese, a good portion of the population (37%) stated that they didn’t feel the need to improve their health. Money and lack of information to start were also reported as barriers to improving health. Furthermore, lack of time (26%) was also reported as a difficulty to improving health. In a 2011 survey by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation of over 2000 adults reported that 44% of Canadians state they don’t have the time for regular physical activity (Heart and Stroke, 2011).

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