Postcard Report: Health Data So Darn Awesome It Sings
I get thrown a lot of a different data. Miserable data, confounding data… and every now and then, data that’s so darn awesome it makes your heart sing.
Ryerson’s National College Health Assessment (NCHA) data set is the type that gets your heart belting out arias. Not only is it a 664-person random sample with 380 questions on everything from drug use to impediments on academic performance, but its got great stories masquerading as numbers.
In 2013, for example, 16% of Ryerson students smoked a cigarette at least once in 30 days. In sharp contrast, 88% perceived that the average student smoked. This same trend of overestimation repeats itself in questions on marijuana use, alcohol, hookah, and “all other drugs combined”—a noxious catchall for substances such as cocaine, hallucinogens, MDMA, and opiates. Put differently, the next time you get into an elevator with five students, look around. There’s a high chance that one of them actually smoked a cigarette in the past month. But, four of those students would look around and think that every student in the elevator smokes except them. There is a notable disconnect between perception and reality.
This is awesome. Why, you ask? Those two data points just gave us a great health promotion message: Everyone’s not puffing up at Ryerson so it’s absolutely ok if you’re not puffing up too. No pressure. Seriously. You’re not weird. You’re actually part of the wonderfully cigarette-free average. That same data, once checked against trend lines, become inputs for better, data-informed programming and campaigns that are instep with student needs.
—And that’s just two pieces of data from a survey with 380 questions. Interested in more proportions? Check out this great infographic from Juannittah Kamera’s Health Promotions team. Interested in statistical analyses that use regressions to reveal predictors of certain health behaviours at Ryerson? Stay tuned for a paper from CSDC’s Dr. Laura Girz and me. Want to play with our survey data too? Just ask. It’s yours.
Ryerson Health Promotions Presents:
Interested in writing your own Reports Worth Reading, but don’t know where to start?
Give me a shout and I’d be happy to help! LGobert@ryerson.ca