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New Well Being of Somerville Report 2011 Details City's Health Status
Posted Date: 9/9/2011
Cambridge Health Alliance, City of Somerville, and Institute for Community Health partner to deliver comprehensive look at public health issues in Somerville

Somerville, MA...Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), the City of Somerville, and the Institute for Community Health released a comprehensive report today on the health of Somerville, highlighting key health and well being indicators as well as topics that influence community health, such as housing and education.

"CHA's mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve, and we are honored to take part in this initiative to better understand the drivers of health status in Somerville," said Allison Bayer, CHA's Acting Chief Executive Officer. "The findings will help us work collaboratively to develop and implement strategies to address the priority issues and evaluate the results, not only from a public health perspective, but also as a health delivery system that cares for more than 25,000 Somerville residents annually."

Housing costs as a percentage of household income, household income by education level, and Mystic River water quality grades are among the various topics addressed in the public health report. Also included are topical data related to leading health indicators, such as how many adults had a regular medical checkup in the past year by education and income levels, physical activity levels of adults and youth, the leading causes of death of Somerville residents, and substance use trends by adults and youth.

Among the findings from the Well Being of Somerville Report 2011 are:

* Cancer is the leading cause of death of city residents, followed by heart disease. Somerville age-adjusted rates per 100,000 are lower than the Massachusetts rates for 9 out of the 10 top causes of death, with the exception of diabetes where the Somerville rate is slightly higher than the state rate.

 * Somerville adults showed improvement in both vigorous and moderate physical activity between 2002 and 2008, while middle and high school student rates changed minimally.

* The percentage of high school students who report early alcohol initiation and binge drinking has decreased steadily from 2003-2010, with both indicators now lower than statewide reports.

* Between 2002 and 2005, Somerville lost 21 young people to overdoses and suicide. Since then, not one youth suicide or lethal youth overdose has taken place. In 2010, there were three adult deaths reported as suicides and six adult deaths cited as drug overdoses.

* The incidence rates (new cases) of certain infectious diseases (chlamydia, hepatitis C and HIV) have risen in Somerville and are above the Massachusetts rates.

The report represents the continuation of over 20 years of periodic review and analysis of Somerville public and community health data. The last community-wide health data report was published in 2002; a youth-focused edition was issued in 2006. For the 2011 report, the Somerville Community Health Agenda, part of CHA, collaborated with the City of Somerville's Health Department and the Institute for Community Health to compile and analyze the data.

"In addition to delivering data on health benchmarks in the city, the report provides significant recognition for the influence that social determinants, such as the environment, housing, and economics, have on health," said Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, CHA's Senior Medical Director for Public and Community Health and Executive Director of the Institute for Community Health.

"This report is an important indication of the collaborative work that's been done in the community to address health-related issues and ensure that Somerville is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family," said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "A key goal of the report and its partners is to facilitate ongoing dialogue between agencies, organizations and residents to create such an environment, and we have already made great strides as outlined by some of the key findings. We still have work to do, but our work thus far has paid dividends in creating a healthier, more sustainable Somerville."

More than 80 people attended a celebration today to launch the Well Being of Somerville Report 2011 at the Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville. The program featured comments from the sponsoring partners and community organizations as well as interactive activities to set the stage for the next phase of the report -- moving the recommendations into action.

Electronic access to the report is available on Cambridge Health Alliance's website -

To get involved with implementing recommendations, contact Lisa Brukilacchio at 617-591-6940 or To order a copy of the book (for cost of printing), contact Paulette Renault-Caragianes at 617-625-6600 or

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health system committed to providing high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities. CHA has expertise in primary care, specialty care and mental health/substance use services, as well as caring for diverse and complex populations. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA patients have seamless access to advanced care through the system’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine.