The New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES) is a local version of the National HANES, an important health survey begun by the federal government in the 1960s. In 2012, Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described the importance of the “gold standard NHANES” in identifying health problems in the United States and tracking how well the country is addressing them.
Gold Standard NHANES
In addition to gathering information from participant survey responses, NHANES also includes brief physical exams and tests on blood and urine samples. NHANES results have led to many important health programs and policy changes.
2004 NYC HANES
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted the first NYC HANES in 2004. Through a detailed health survey and a brief physical exam, NYC HANES collected data from nearly 2,000 New Yorkers.
Since the first NYC HANES was conducted in 2004, researchers have published more than 20 scientific articles. Those research articles led to action that has improved the health of all New York City residents. Some of the scientific articles also contributed to the nation-wide conversation about public health.
Researchers used this data to learn more about how many New Yorkers have health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression and how well these conditions are controlled. They have also learned about environmental exposures, including second-hand tobacco smoke, lead and mercury. Findings from the study have led to changes in New York City laws and regulations as well as to educational campaigns to improve the health of New Yorkers.
2013-2014 NYC HANES
The CUNY School of Public Health and the New York City Health Department conducted a second NYC HANES with grant funding in 2013-2014. Adults from nearly 3,000 randomly selected NYC households were asked to answer survey questions and take a physical exam to provide a picture of the city’s health almost 10 years after the first NYC HANES. This enables researchers to examine changes in the city’s health over two points in time and assess the impact of several important health policy initiatives that have occurred since 2004. For examples, these findings will give public health professionals and elected officials the information they need to:
- develop and fund new health programs
- introduce new health regulations and new laws
- educate the public about increasing health risks
Innovations in Monitoring Population Health
In addition, NYC HANES is a critical element of a larger surveillance validation project supported by the NYC Health Department and CUNY School of Public Health.
Since 2005, the Health Department has supported the development of one of the nation’s largest electronic health record networks, which covers nearly 2 million patients. Through this network, the Health Department collects aggregated, de-identified data on diabetes, hypertension, smoking-cessation counseling, and other key public health measures.
By comparing health estimates from the electronic health record network with “gold standard” data obtained from NYC HANES, researchers will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of using electronic health records for population health surveillance in New York City.