St. John chosen to participate in health survey

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010



LAPLACE – A national survey that monitors the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population will be using St. John the Baptist Parish as one of its testing locations.

Representatives from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey will begin going door-to-door in the parish Friday in an effort to find volunteers to participate in the survey. The parish is one of 15 randomly selected counties across the nation chosen to participate in the survey.

“The program is a comprehensive health survey, which includes a health interview and physical exam,” said survey spokesperson Tatiana Nwankwo. “It is a valuable tool for developing effective health policies and programs, as well as an opportunity to gain information about one’s health.”

Nwankwo said the survey interviews about 7,000 randomly selected residents as part of the program, which is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

“It serves as the nation’s ‘health check-up’ by going into scattered communities to get health information throughout the country,” she said. “The survey is a unique resource for health information, and without it we would lack important knowledge about major health conditions.”

Nwankwo said the CDC has conducted the survey for nearly 50 years in order to get annual estimates on a range of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, respiratory disease, and other conditions. Public health officials, legislators, and physicians then use the information to develop health policies, direct and design health programs and services, and expand the health knowledge for the nation.

“Individuals selected for the survey represent the U.S. population of all ages,” Nwankwo said. “Additional emphasis in the current survey is placed on the health of older persons, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics.”

Participants first undergo a health interview conducted by trained health professionals at the participant’s home. Nwankwo said all door-to-door survey workers will have adequate identification visible.

The health examination that follows takes place in one of three mobile examination centers that travel to the selected communities for data collection. The mobile centers are staffed by a team of health personnel, including physicians, dentists, nutritionists and health and laboratory technicians.

Nwankwo said all participants receive an examination by a physician, as well as a dietary interview and body measurements that include height and weight. Some will also be eligible for a hearing test, a scan to evaluate body fat and a breathing test as well as a blood pressure test.

No medical care is provided directly in the examination center, but a report on the medical findings is given to each participant along with an explanation from survey medical staff.

All individual information collected in the survey is kept strictly confidential, and privacy is protected by public law.

Participants selected to undergo the physical examination receive reimbursement for travel expenses and remuneration of up to $125 per person.