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Quality of Life in Spokane

Joint News Release
May 11, 2017 
Media Contact: Kim Papich
(509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968


When It Comes to Quality of Life in Spokane, Some Have It Better Than Others

Report shows local differences in health and well-being associated with race/ethnicity, income, education, employment and neighborhood

SPOKANE, Wash. – The first report on quality of life in Spokane County—a holistic look at the health and well-being, comfort, and the overall lived experience of individuals locally—indicates marked disparities between different groups. Spokane’s quality of life was lower among blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives; among the poor; among the unemployed; among residents of certain neighborhoods; and among those who were less healthy.

These results, released by Spokane Regional Health District and its partners Providence Health Care, City of Spokane, Empire Health Foundation, and Spokane County, clearly show that quality of life in Spokane is directly influenced by the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age, which are also known as social determinants.

“This should serve as a reminder that inequities are present in Spokane County and that efforts to improve health and well-being in the county should focus on the social, physical and economic environments people are living in,” said Sara Clements-Sampson, who leads Community Benefits, including services and financial support to improve the health of the community, for Providence Health Care. “For example, these results confirm the importance of improved educational opportunities and economic development as a means to improve quality of life.”

Survey invitations were mailed in early 2015 to a random sample of 12,000 addresses within Spokane County. In total, 3,334 responses were analyzed. For ease-of-use of the reader, report findings are parsed out on www.qolspokane.org into individual sections, including social capital, citizen satisfaction, public safety, physical health and health behaviors, and mental health.

Said Brian Myers, vice president for Rural Health and Capacity Building at Empire Health Foundation, “As medical and public health advances have led to cures and better treatments of existing diseases and delayed mortality, it was logical that those who measure health outcomes would begin to assess the population’s health not only on the basis of saving lives, but also in terms of the lived experience.”

Overall, 58 percent of residents rated the quality of life in Spokane as excellent or very good. Persons with excellent or very good self-reported health were over two times more likely to rate Spokane’s quality of life as high compared to those who reported their health as poor. Health is the foundation of the lived experience. It is not surprising that better health was related to higher quality of life.

Other findings include:

  • The degree of social connectedness, also referred to as social capital, differed notably by neighborhood. For example, Spokane’s North Indian Trail and Nine Mile/Colbert neighborhoods were in the top 25% of neighborhoods by social capital score and Chattaroy/Deer Park and Hillyard/Whitman neighborhoods were in the bottom 25%.
  • In terms of satisfaction with government and infrastructure, also known as citizen satisfaction, overall, Spokane County residents were most satisfied with fire and emergency services—88% were somewhat or very satisfied. County residents were least satisfied with public transportation (60% were somewhat or very satisfied), and public schools (62% were somewhat or very satisfied). The most frequently cited issues by these citizens were crime, which included concerns about safety and drugs - with 24% of responses - followed by jobs/economy (21%), and roads/transport (12%).
  • In terms of city of Spokane citizen satisfaction, ratings for fire and emergency services were high with 86% of residents reporting that they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied. Satisfaction ratings were lowest for city government and public schools with 54% and 59% of residents reporting that they were somewhat or very satisfied with these services respectively. The most frequently cited issues facing residents were crime, which included concerns about safety and drugs - with 28% of responses - followed by jobs/economy (16%) and roads/transport (11%).
  • Smoking was higher among 20- to 39-year-olds, blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives, people with incomes less than $25,000, unemployed people, and residents of certain neighborhoods; again, showing marked disparities between different groups in Spokane.
  • 71% of people who indicated having poor mental health had not received treatment or counseling in the last 12 months.

Said John Dickson, chief operations officer for Spokane County, “This information is very valuable to stakeholders like us in terms of making evidence- or fact-based decisions. These survey results will help us more effectively focus our regional quality of life improvement activities. The survey is also our opportunity to evaluate local efforts and outcomes over time to see if we’re able to move the needle on issues of community importance.”

Earlier reports in Spokane County, namely Odds Against Tomorrow, clearly showed differences in health by social determinants, but additional information was needed to confirm these disparities in quality of life, as well as complement other existing data sources to substantiate strategic work and priorities in the community.

This project is important for multiple reasons as it not only represents a substantial investment in stakeholders’ ability to holistically evaluate the well-being of residents with evidence-based practices, but it also identifies issues and concerns of importance to citizens.

These results and many more can be used by:

  • Readers to understand the extent of disparities in Spokane County.
  • Neighborhood organizations to further understand social contexts of neighborhoods and plan appropriate interventions.
  • Local government and coalitions to guide collective action to improve the social, physical and economic environment in which people live.

Concluded Torney Smith, administrator for Spokane Regional Health District, “Issues involving quality of life, inequities and health are complex and inter-related; they are also complicated to resolve, but that’s not to say they can’t be improved upon. It will take a collective effort and acknowledgement that we all have a role in using this information to pursue strategies to improve quality of life in Spokane County.”

Spokane’s Quality of Life survey will be administered again this summer, with results planned for release in 2018. More information is available at www.qolspokane.org or www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.


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August 21, 2017