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CDC selects Saratoga County for health survey

Sunday, February 17, 2013
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— Saratoga County has been selected to be part of a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national health survey that will be conducted this spring and summer.

Representatives of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey will be in the county from May 18 until July 28, conducting more than 1,000 screening interviews and giving physical exams to an anticipated 525 people.

The county was selected for the annual survey through demographic statistical analysis, and is the only New York state county being surveyed this year, said Nora Martinello, a senior study manager with the NHNES. Fourteen other counties across the country are also being surveyed this year.

It’s an exciting thing to have happening, said county Public Health Director Karen Levison, who has met with the advance team.

“It’s really about the aggregation of data that is then used to determine the health of the nation,” Levison said.

Survey teams visit 15 counties across the United States each year, examining a national sample of about 5,000 people, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control.

The medical exams will be done at a mobile center set up at some central location, though the local site hasn’t yet been determined.

To pick participants, the survey team will use addresses selected at random from census tracts. Martinello said the survey staff won’t know the names of the people living at those addresses, though a letter addressed to “resident” will have arrived in advance of their knocking on the door.

Home visits

Survey employees will go to the homes starting in May, and determine whether the people there are eligible to participate, based on the household’s makeup.

“People don’t even have to give us their name,” Martinello said. “We’re interested in the population demographic they represent.”

Interviews will cover demographic, socioeconomic, dietary and health-related questions, while physical examinations cover medical, dental and physiological measurements, as well as a range of laboratory blood tests.

Martinello said participants receive medical exams and tests worth up to $4,500 for free, and are paid up to $125 plus transportation costs for their participation. The participants are given copies of their test results.

“They have the option of participating or not, but we hope they will,” Martinello said. “There’s a direct benefit to them learning about their own health, plus they get paid.”

The information on individuals remains confidential, she said.

Findings of the national survey are used to determine the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases in the American population — information that can be used to establish public health policies and programs.

The compiled results are used to determine national standards for such measurements as height, weight and blood pressure — and the prevalence of chronic health conditions like diabetes or macular degeneration. The survey also tracks health statistics separately by age group and for minority populations. That information, in turn, can be used for future research and the setting of public health policy priorities.

As a public health professional, Levison said it’s helpful to have a national team coming to do a survey of the local population.

“I think this is going to help me down the road to do a community health survey and determine what our needs are,” Levison said.

 
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