Working with communities to interpret health survey results

The Best Starts for Kids Health Survey is the first ever survey about the well-being, strengths, and needs of young children and their families in King County. Between September 2016 and January 2017, almost 6,000 families participated in the survey.

As the Best Starts for Kids data team begins analyzing results from the first ever Best Starts health survey, we can begin to answer important questions for our communities like, “Which families have emotional support with parenting?” or, “In what region are children more likely to receive mental or behavioral health services?” This is the first time we have this type of data available that represents all families in King County. Many partners and community members, especially historically underrepresented communities, find this information extremely valuable.

kids on the hill no adults
The Best Starts for Kids Health Survey will begin to answer important questions about the well-being, strengths, and needs of  young children and their families.

You may have seen that some results are already online on the Best Starts indicators website.  However, answering these questions takes more than just numbers. Before we release every detail, the team is also slowing down to take time to carefully interpret what these results mean before we start shouting out from the rooftops!

We are committed to our values of transparency and equity. In collaboration with some key stakeholders, we’ve developed an approach to sharing survey results that keeps both values in mind.

This data belongs to the people who participated in the survey.  In order to share ownership, we will continue to maintain data on the Best Starts indicators website.  This interactive website allows anyone to dig into a wide range of data and compare numbers for groups with different characteristics.  Soon, we will be adding a feedback feature so people can let us know their thoughts or ask questions.

We urge everyone to use caution in how they interpret the data, especially when the number of people who provided a certain piece of data gets small.  Keep in mind that the numbers don’t tell the whole story and may not reflect each person’s experiences. When using the indicators website, one trick to help you know if we are sure of a result is to look for an asterisk or turn on the “confidence intervals” and make sure to read the small print! If you have questions about interpreting data, let us know through the feedback feature.

Our team is partnering with community leaders and community-based organizations to plan small, culturally and linguistically specific meetings for families we’re calling “data dives”.  At these data dives parents and caregivers will discuss the survey results, tell us what it means to them, build relationships and ask questions.  Once we are confident about what we’re learning, we will be able to share it more widely with the appropriate context.  After holding several of these smaller meetings, we will also plan a large public event so everyone has a chance to dive into the data.

We’ll be attending coalition meetings to share data and get the perspective of providers, who are often parents themselves.

As we implement Best Starts strategies, we will share data with program managers and grantees who can use the information to inform their work.

Want to share something with us or ask questions about these data? We value your wisdom and expertise in helping us understand these numbers.  Email us at  We look forward to hearing from you!

health survey cycle

Finally, we’d like to thank the Best Starts blog followers for your patience as we work to share results.  Don’t forget that the Best Starts Health Survey is happening in a cycle!

We’re moving into the interpretation phase now, and we’ll be repeating the cycle next year.  With your support and participation, we look forward to making it even more successful the second time around.

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