New Report Identifies Factors Affecting Health Of Mat-Su Residents


The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) has published the findings of its 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The report, “Health Is Where We Live, Learn, Work and Play,” identified the top factors that affect the health of local residents: transportation, social connection and support, income, education and information, and housing. 

“This Community Health Needs Assessment was specifically designed to frame health status in the context of how where we live, learn, work and play affects our health,” said MSHF Executive Director, Elizabeth Ripley. “One of the things that we know is that you can map the health of a population by zip code. In other words, where you live is one of the greatest determinants of your health. It impacts the decisions you make about your own personal health. This knowledge can help guide the development and implementation of strategies to create a healthier community.”

The assessment included the voices of more than 1,100 Mat-Su residents from all walks of life and from throughout Mat-Su’s vast geography. Information from focus groups, stakeholder group interviews, surveys and interviews were combined with data from numerous qualitative and quantitative sources to complete the report. Examples of how where we live, learn, work and play impacts our health include whether we have access to medical care (transportation) and can afford to pay for it (income), whether we feel safe (housing), our access to education, including early childhood education, whether we have knowledge of resources available to us (information) and whether we experience a strong sense of community (social connection and support). 

The next step is for the Foundation to work with its partner, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, to draft an implementation plan based on the four goals identified by the assessment:

1. Transportation: All Mat-Su residents have transportation to work, healthcare appointments, school and community activities, and other opportunities that affect the quality of their lives.

2. Social Connection and Support: Mat-Su is a community where all residents feel supported by and connected to family, friends, neighbors and the broader community.

3. Income and Housing: Mat-Su has economic opportunities that allow residents to have a level of income that supports a healthy lifestyle and provides for safe and affordable housing.

4. Education and Information: Mat-Su is a community that supports education for residents and provides full access to information needed to promote health, wellness and quality of life.

The full 158-page 2016 Mat-Su Community Health Needs Assessment is available at

Contributors to the project included Alaska Mental Health Trust, CCS Early Learning, Chickaloon Village, Identity Alaska, Knik Tribal Council, Mat-Su Health Services, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Sunshine Community Health Center. The project was led by Dr. Melissa Kemberling of the Mat-Su Health Foundation with assistance from Strategy Solutions, Inc.