Manchester health officials release 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment

Nov. 15—Manchester health officials say a community health needs assessment recommends reconvening a leadership council of community stakeholders to set long-term health improvement goals.

The 2022 Greater Manchester Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) also recommends establishing an Urban Health Research Institute with academic partners; using technology to expand the reach of public health through real-time surveillance, program management and communication; and forming a funding hub with health care charitable trusts, banks and funding agencies to improve neighborhood health.

The 2022 Greater Manchester CHNA is completed every three years as required by the Affordable Care Act. The assessment was developed by Manchester's Health Department, in partnership with Catholic Medical Center, Dartmouth Health and Elliot Health System.

JSI Research and Training Institute collected data from nearly 20 health care providers and community leaders in the city and conducted more than 200 resident surveys to compile the 125-page report.

"The assessment should serve as a call to action by the community, including the residents who make Manchester or its region their home, to build neighborhoods of opportunity and resilience," said Manchester Public Health Director Anna Thomas. "From this assessment, we will build a community health improvement plan to address the health priorities identified. I am hopeful this will lead to the development of a detailed roadmap toward the goal of a healthier citizenry."

Mayor Joyce Craig thanked city health officials and healthcare partners for their work in determining "our community's current health status, needs, and opportunities."

"This collective approach, including significant community engagement, will enable us to better address the root causes of issues and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive," Craig said in a statement. "Manchester is, and always has been a resilient community, and I look forward to the work ahead in developing the community health improvement plan and building a healthier community."

The 2022 Greater Manchester CHNA assessed residents' health behaviors, access to clinical care, food security, trauma and health outcomes and goals for creating healthy homes and neighborhoods.

Health officials say results show the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated and/or highlighted inequities among city residents associated with housing, food security, technology access for education and other domains, and substance misuse.

Despite these impacts, over 1/3 of Manchester residents scored as "thriving" in the wellness assessment, with only 10.5% scoring in the lowest "suffering" range. Manchester residents rated their overall physical and mental health as positive, with few reporting health-related limitations on their daily activities.

Housing was highlighted as the highest priority for action in Manchester, with education, health care, trauma and substance misuse also among the top priorities for residents.

Some highlights of the CHNA report include:

—Rates of suspected opioid overdose are consistently two to three times higher in Manchester compared with Nashua, the city with the next highest rate of opioid overdoses in New Hampshire. There were 161 more suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester in 2021 compared with 2020 — a 39% increase. Individuals with suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester were three times more likely to be men than women (77% versus 23%, respectively), and had an average age of 39 years old.

Across both Manchester and Nashua, nearly half (49%) of all opioid overdoses were labeled as repeat encounters by first responders.

—Suspected opioid overdose deaths also increased in Manchester and Nashua between 2020 and 2021, marking an end to the steady decline in opioid-related deaths in both cities that occurred in the four previous years. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of suspected opioid deaths increased by 31% in Manchester and 36% in Nashua. Notably, from 2019 to 2020 in Manchester there was a 28% decrease in opioid overdoses and a 32% decrease in opioid overdose deaths. Additionally, from 2017 to 2019 there was a 34% decrease in opioid overdoses, and a 15% decrease in opioid overdose deaths in Manchester.

—The percentage of Manchester high school students reporting use of illegal and prescription drugs has declined steadily in the past decade. Between 2011 and 2019, the proportion of high school students reporting heroin use dropped by more than 40%, from 3.7% to 2.2%. The decline in reported methamphetamine use was similar, at 37% during the same period.

—Overall, 63.1% of Manchester residents had limited access to healthy food in 2019, down almost 20% from 77.4% of residents in 2015. Manchester residents are less likely to have limited access to healthy food than Nashua residents, 73.5% of whom had limited access.

—In 2019, nearly one-third of Manchester high school students reported that a dating partner had "purposely tried to control them or emotionally hurt them" in the past year, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, a figure 11% higher than reported by high school students across the state as a whole (26.5%).

"While only two years of data are available on this outcome measure, it appears that emotional dating violence is on the rise in both Manchester and the state," the report said.

More than 8% of students reported having been victims of physical dating violence in Manchester in 2019, compared with 7% of high school students across the state, a 12.5% difference. The proportion of students reporting having experienced sexual dating violence in the past year was slightly higher, at 8.2% in Manchester and 7.8% in the state (5% difference).

Reports of physical and sexual dating violence decreased in both Manchester and the state as a whole between 2013, with rates dropping by 30% and 36%, respectively, in Manchester.

To read the full 2022 Greater Manchester CHNA, go to: