Utah County residents selected to participate in national health study

A Utah County resident participating in the study. (Photo courtesy Utah County health department)
A Utah County resident participating in the study. (Photo courtesy Utah County Health Department)

Utah County has been selected to participate in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during the next six weeks to help determine national health and nutrition statistics.

The National Health Survey is a study conducted each year by the National Center for Health Statistics. Fifteen counties across the country are randomly selected to participate every year. This survey is used to create national health and nutrition information.

The survey is conducted using high-end procedures and equipment. The purpose is not to treat illnesses but to collect data. “There’s no diagnosis or treatment; everything is for research,” said Larry Dobbins, the study manager.

“This is important public health,” said Joe Miner, the director for the Utah County Public Health Department. “We need the community to cooperate and help us out because this is how we learn about ourselves and improve our health.” Miner encouraged everyone who is contacted by the survey team to participate if they are eligible.

Researchers arrived in Utah County on April 12 and have been gathering people to participate in the research. Participants are selected randomly and invited to take part in the study by interviewers on the survey team. According to Esther Orosco, the study coordinator, getting people to participate in the survey can sometimes be a problem. Talking about the interviewers, she said, “They have the hardest job, I think.”

Fortunately for the survey team, Utah County historically has a high participation rate when compared to other counties that have been surveyed. “Last time they were here, 13 years ago, Utah County participated at a 95 percent cooperation rate which is 20 percent higher than average, so we have cooperative, good people here,” Miner said.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey arrived in Utah County on April 12 and has been gathering participants since that time. They will begin conducting tests on Saturday, May 3, and will continue their research until June 7.

The research is conducted in a facility made up of four interconnected trailers.  Tests include oral exams, dietary exams, body scans, physical tests and lab tests.  The tests can take anywhere from one to three hours to complete. Participants are compensated up to $125 for their time and willingness to participate. “If you happen to be lucky enough to be selected, you get a lot of nice tests done for free. Not only are they free, but you actually get paid,” Miner said. The results of the tests are given to the participants for their own personal use as well as being used to create national data.

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