Saratoga County

Saratoga County part of national health survey

A team from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin a nine-week national h

A team from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin a nine-week national health survey in Saratoga County on Saturday.

Saratoga is one of 15 counties across the country being canvassed this year as part of the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It is the only county in New York state being surveyed.

Randomly selected households have already received initial notification that they will be asked to participate in the survey, which is voluntary.

The survey team will be in Saratoga County through July 28, interviewing people and conducting physical exams on residents selected at random to represent specific demographic groups. Taken together with results collected across the nation, the survey is part of an ongoing effort by the federal government to profile the nation’s health.

The results help set national public health policy, as well as determining a national profile for height, weight, blood pressure and other measurements.

“[The survey] serves as the nation’s ‘health check-up,’ going into communities to collect health information throughout the country,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden.

The information, which CDC has been collecting annually for 50 years, is used to develop national health care policies, direct and design health care programs and expand health knowledge, CDC officials said.

Starting Saturday, about 25 CDC workers — who will carry government-issued photo identification — will begin visiting households that have been notified in advance by postcard or letter.

“Starting on the 18th, people will be knocking on doors to ask basic questions about household composition,” said Nora Martinello, a senior study manager. “People don’t have to give their name. What is important to us is the piece of the population that you represent.”

After the initial brief doorstep survey, some members of some households will be selected through random sampling for an in-depth, one-hour interview in their home. Then, starting June 8, some people will be invited to a mobile health survey laboratory that will be set up at Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART building at the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta.

At the laboratory, people will undergo detailed, non-invasive medical measurements and tests. The exams can take up to four hours, but those who participate will receive up to $125 in compensation, plus a transportation allowance. The tests, which Martinello said might otherwise cost thousands of dollars, are free for participants, who will also receive the results.

“Every person who goes through the exam gets a complete report of the medical findings,” she said. “We encourage people to share them with their doctor.”

Thousands of county residents will be interviewed on their doorsteps. Fewer will be given the more in-depth interview, and only about 525 will be examined at the mobile laboratory, Martinello said. Participation at every stage is voluntary.

The survey team, which will rise to about 40 people when the medical exams start, will be working seven days a week, she said. Those who participate will be offered morning, afternoon or evening appointments to suit their convenience.

Officials emphasized the information remains private, and people can participate without ever giving their name.

“All information collected in the survey is kept strictly confidential, and privacy is protected by public law,” CDC officials said in a statement.

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