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Understand the health and health-related needs of the community across the North East

Wide-scale research across six NHS Primary Care Trusts covering several personal issues including eating, smoking and drinking habits, exercise levels etc.

Key benefits:

  • Better understanding of the health needs of local people
  • Identified ways to help improve local services
  • Aid in planning programmes to improve health and bid for extra resources

Our Assigment

In order to better understand the health and health-related needs of the community in which it serves, a total of six NHS Primary Care Trusts joined forces with The North East Public Health Observatory to commission a large-scale research sweep in the County Durham and Darlington area. As with the intended scale of the research in terms of respondents, the study itself was likely to be of a complex nature, with data required covering a wide range of personal issues such as general health, access to services, eating, smoking and drinking habits and also exercise levels.


A total of 8630 completed questionnaires were returned by residents within the defined local area; a figure which attached credibility, reliability and confidence in the findings given the sizeable sample surveyed.
Results were analysed according to the standard demographic groupings, in addition to a breakdown of findings pertaining to each of the six NHS Primary Care Trusts scrutinised in the study. This extra analysis enabled results between the six organisations to be compared and contrasted with ease; a procedure which allowed for subsequent benchmarking for each PCT and indeed the region as a whole.


Ceri Mather, Public Health Network Co-Ordinator for the Primary Care Trusts in County Durham and Darlington, said: “The survey is very important. The results will help Primary Care Trusts in County Durham and Darlington to better understand the health needs of local people and improve local services.”
“The information we collect will help us to plan programmes for improving health and bid for extra resources.”
Following the in-depth analysis of the completed research, the results were published and shared with both local people within the surveyed areas and health organisations.

Our Approach

The extensive research took the form of a postal self-completion survey, with a total of 15,435 questionnaires mailed to local residents who had given ‘informed consent’ pre-study to confer details regarding their personal health and lifestyle. All respondents were, in addition to the questionnaire, provided with a freepost envelope with which to return their completed survey; the intention of which was to boost the overall response rate, thus improving confidence in interpreting the survey findings.
The mailing was split amongst the six NHS Primary Care Trusts of Darlington, Derwentside, Durham & Chester le-Street, Easington, Sedgefield and the Durham Dales.

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