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​​​​​​​​Value of Results for the Community

Our member population is comparable to the insured adult population in Northern California, so our survey results should be generalizable to adults outside of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Comparisons with the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and​ California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) have shown that the adult Kaiser Permanente Northern California population, which comprises approximately 40 percent of Northern California's insured adult population, is very similar to the insured adult population in Northern California. (Learn more)

Similar to other health surveys such as the BRFS, CHIS, and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the Kaiser Permanente Member Health Survey (MHS) collects self-reported information. The survey is closer to the BRFS and NHIS than CHIS in terms of the breadth of clinically relevant health-related characteristics that are collected.

The Member Health Survey provides unique information and research opportunities not available from the BRFS or CHIS

  • In contrast to the BRFS. NHIS, and CHIS, Member Health Survey data can be linked directly to clinical and administrative data for research purposes.
  • The Kaiser Permanente Member Health Survey is the only ongoing survey in California that provides information about how people want to obtain health information. The Member Health Survey has also been tracking computer, Internet and email access and use of the Internet for health information since 1999. These findings are especially useful for managers and designers of health plan and community-based health information and health education programs for adults.
  • The Member Health Survey tracks the use of complementary and alternative medicine and the use of herbals and other dietary supplements, such as Vitamin D and calcium.
  • The Member Health Survey provides particularly robust data on health-related characteristics of adults aged 65 and over, based on our large numbers of senior respondents. In addition to the core questions asked in surveys for all adults, the senior survey also obtains information about functional status, use of community-based resources, and mode of transportation.
  • The Member Health Survey provides data to study race-ethnic and educational disparities in health status and a wide range of health behavior/psychosocial risks in an insured population. Within this population, everyone has access to the same care, preventive services, and health education.

The Member Health Survey can support research, planning, and evidence-based decision-making inside and outside of Kaiser Permanente

The detailed information provided by the Kaiser Permanente Member Health Survey can be valuable for:

  • Academic and institutional researchers
  • Planners, and managers in public health departments and other health organizations who do not have the research resources or the stable populations to take on such an ambitious project
  • Decision-makers responsible for public health policy

Planners can use information from the Member Health Survey to recommend services that improve the health and well-being of their health plan members or adults in the community. The survey gives estimates of the percentages of men and women in different age groups who have specific health problems (like diabetes or depression) and behavioral health risks (like smoking). Planners can use this data to predict the resources that may be required to provide education and treatment services now and in the future, as their population ages.

The information about preferred methods of obtaining health information that are segmented by age, gender, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity can also be used by planners to develop strategies for communications and health education for the populations they serve.

Over the years, Kaiser Permanente researchers, our research partners, and health organizations and planning agencies in the communities we serve have used the survey data to learn about a wide range of health-related topics, including:

  • Changes in health, health behaviors, and psychosocial health risks over time
  • Social determinants of health and health behaviors, including race/ethnicity, education, income, and sexual orientation
  • Behaviors and conditions known to increase the risk of chronic disease
  • Health problems and health care costs associated with obesity
  • Health problems and health care costs associated with alcohol consumption
  • Health care costs associated with quitting vs. continuing to smoke cigarettes
  • Problems affecting the quality of life of seniors
  • Patterns of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use
  • Accuracy of self-report about health conditions and preventive health service utilization
  • Access to and use of digital information technology (computers, tablets, Internet, email, etc.), how this differs over time and by sociodemographic factors
  • Preferred methods for receiving information and health education to improve health and well-being​