National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey underway in Orange

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018


By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Before the trailers arrived at the Baptist Hospital parking lot, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was already in the area going door to door.

“We were collecting demographic information,” Study Manager George Dixon said. “Of those, about 70-percent screened out.”

It was also the first part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

“Part of the survey is done in home and part is in the mobile units,” Dixon said.

The information gathered from the studies helps determine the standards for the nation.

“We see the weight of the nation and determine the growth rate in children,” Dixon said.

It is also through these studies, which changed the appearance of nutritional values.

“Nutritional values were changed to be more visually appealing to the eye because of this study,” Dixon said.

Throughout the four interlocking trailers, participants provide valuable information while maintaining their privacy.

“They are each given a number unique to them but keeps them totally anonymous,” Dixon said.

The exams, from oral, hearing, bone density, and blood works are conducted to gather information. However, if the exam raises a concern, the person is given referrals to an area physician.

“There is always a doctor on site,” Dixon said.

Dr. Shauna Collins with West Stat was on site on Monday as the trailers were opened for media and local area health professionals to tour.

“Once the surveys begin, no one is permitted in for the privacy of the individuals,” Dixon said.

All counties in the United States have a chance to be selected for the NHANES and this year, Orange County is one of 15 counties that was selected to be part of this initiative. NHANES provides important data on public health problems from a national perspective. Approximately 500 residents will be selected to participate.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Residents will have an invitation-only opportunity to participate in NHANES. Individuals have been selected at random (in a process similar to taking names out of a hat) for NHANES, and include all ages, races, and ethnicities in order to represent the U.S. population as a whole.

While no medical care is provided directly in the mobile examination center, a report on physical findings is given to each participant along with an explanation from survey medical staff. All information collected in the survey is kept confidential and privacy is protected by law.

Each room has a plaque outside the door stating what exam will be conducted and a second plaque to indicate who has provided the funding for the tests.

In the MEC interviews, the participant is interviewed by a computer about alcohol and drug use as well as sexual activeness.

“No one else is in the room so no one is offended and they can answer the questions in privacy,” Dixon said.

During the Audio testing, the survey has expanded to now include ages six-nineteen.

“Before, we only conducted the test for those 70 plus,” Dixon said. “But with the use of iPods and earbuds, we are checking to see if it is having an impact on our hearing. We also check to see how well one can hear with background noise.”

A liver ultrasound and a Bone Density Scan are also possibilities during the survey.

“The most important component is the blood draw,” Dixon said. “It is the most informative.”

Participants will receive preliminary results of the lab work the day of the testing and in six to eight weeks receive full results of everything.

For all this, participants receive a cash payment for their time and effort. Amounts vary based on how many tests and their age. Not everyone will receive every test.