State conducting risk survey

PNT Staff Report

The New Mexico Department of Health has your number. Now they would like answers to questions about your health.

The DOH is making phone calls across the area to gather information. The annual survey, dubbed the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, is designed to collect information on behaviors and risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases and other health conditions.

The department will be making 9,000 phone calls,. And for the first time, they will be contacting 250 cell phone users to take part in the survey.

“Its basically the department’s way to figure out the health needs of New Mexicans,” said Deborah Busemeyer, DOH communication director. “It is designed to gather information that provides for more effective prevention programs and people can contribute to that effort.”

The Epidemiology and Response Division will be calling during the days, nights and weekends over the next year. The survey will be conducted in both English and Spanish and phone numbers will be randomly generated.

Department staff will not know who they are contacting and will not be asking for names and addresses.

“We value people privacy and people are protected in that ways” Busemeyer said.

The survey asks for demographic information and could be about health care access, exercise, diabetes, oral health, disability, tobacco use, falls, seat belts use, anxiety and depression, and cancer screening.

In 2007, 26.4 percent of adults in New Mexico were reported not having health-care coverage, far more than the national average of 16.6 percent.

Another topic will be Native American health issues. Race and ethnicity will include some of the questions that might be asked.

“It takes a long time to gather all the data and our previous report is online if people want to see it. The department will look at this data and see where we need to make improvements,” Busemeyer said. “Some other agencies will use the data, like advocate groups, who will use the data to apply for grants to design programs that might be needed.”

The survey is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is conducted in every state.

For more information, call the Department toll-free at 877-325-8226.