by Tayla Holman

A health risk assessment can encourage you to take steps you might not have taken previously in support of your health.

Have you ever wondered how healthy you really are? Your body seems limber, your skin is clear, your mind is sharp — but could you be overlooking something? Or do you have a lingering question about a health concern, and you are not sure what a reasonable next step is?

While health risk assessments (also known as an HRA or health risk appraisals) aren't a replacement for seeing a physician on a regular basis, they can shed additional light on less obvious factors in your overall well-being.

Online HRAs in particular are quick and effective tools to help you understand your risk factors for a number of conditions, such as heart disease, obesity and cancer. Upon completion of a short questionnaire, you get personalized clinical information condensed into a concise, easy-to-understand report. The results are usually available via email and/or download immediately after you complete the assessment.

Beyond communicating relative risk, the results may help equip patients to make more educated choices about specific health concerns. An example would be whether it's recommended to see a specialist as a next step because of joint pain. Or, for someone who has struggled to lose weight using traditional measures, is weight loss surgery even an option?

What information will I be asked for?

Our online HRAs are designed to be very easy to complete, and should only take a few minutes.

Depending on the topic, a health risk assessment may ask about your general health, your health history, family history of disease and current medications. The questionnaire may also ask questions about tobacco or alcohol use, diet and nutrition, physical activity, and sleep quality.

It may be helpful to have any recent lab reports from your doctor handy before you take the quiz, in order to accurately input a key reading like your blood pressure. However, in most cases there is little that you would need to look up before answering.

Some HRAs don't just focus on medical factors, though. They can also include questions about:

  • Lifestyle and behaviors
  • Activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and using the restroom
  • The level of support around you

And for some assessments, health providers may include questions about education or socioeconomic status.

This information can be useful in certain cases because it factors in some sense of the extent that a patient may face health inequities or disparities. For example, someone who does not have easy access to a grocery store may be more likely to experience poor nutrition, which can lead to health conditions such as obesity or diabetes.

Regardless of the nature of the HRA you take, it's important to answer all questions honestly and as accurately as you can. There is no need to be ashamed or embarrassed about your answers, and your assessment is confidential. You may choose to share the assessment with your doctor if you are concerned about your results and would like to discuss additional tests, screenings or options.

How can you use the information from the HRA?

Often, we consider ourselves healthy if we're not actively sick. While that can be true, there is always more we can do for ourselves and our well-being. A health risk assessment can encourage you to take steps you might not have taken previously in support of your health.

According to the World Health Organization, 60% of factors related to individual health and quality of life can be attributed to lifestyle. This means that even though risk factors like age, race or family history do play a role in your overall health, your lifestyle can have even more of an impact on your health. It's also important to remember that just having a risk factor or several risk factors for a disease or health condition doesn't mean you will get it. You can take control of your health through preventative measures and healthy choices.

Health assessments also can help you record your health status over time, enabling you to track your progress on the path to wellness.

Consider taking an online HRA on our site. It's fast, free and private. If you aren't sure what your results mean or you want a second opinion, be sure to talk to consult a doctor. If you need help finding a doctor, our online HRA results will provide a number to call and/or a link to search online.

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