StatCan selects North Shore households for health survey

Randomly chosen residents have a few weeks left to participate

Statistics Canada is encouraging North Shore households that have been selected to participate in its current national health survey to do so before time runs out.

The Canadian Health Measures Survey, an ongoing project conducted by Statistics Canada in order to gather information on direct measures and general measures of health across the country, is currently being conducted in North Vancouver and West Vancouver, with a small sampling of households also being surveyed on Bowen Island and Lions Bay.

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“We’re looking at what are some of the factors that affect health, and what are some of those markers of health problems, and what sort of health programs can we put in place because of those results,” said Lauren Cornish, a regional program manager for collections for Statistics Canada.

In early December, approximately 800 households across the North Shore were randomly selected to voluntarily participate in the survey, which includes both a comprehensive in-home interview followed by a health examination conducted by professionals at a mobile examination centre in North Vancouver.

Statistics Canada targets a 70-per-cent completion rate from every community across Canada where it conducts its health measures survey, according to Cornish.

“We very consistently hit that 70 per cent target. For North Shore right now, we’re at 45 per cent,” said Cornish.

The in-home interview portion of the survey wraps up in approximately two weeks, according to Cornish, while the second part will involve a health exam at the mobile examination centre running until Feb. 10. The mobile clinic is arriving at a parking lot at Capilano University this week, she added.

Statistics Canada has been conducting the Canadian Health Measures Survey across the country since 2007, in partnership with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“We do about eight communities a year and those travelling mobile clinics are in one community at a time,” said Cornish. “This is an extremely specialized survey. We’re measuring a lot of things that we can’t measure through a phone interview or a personal interview.”

During the in-home interview with selected individuals they will be asked questions regarding nutrition, alcohol and tobacco consumption, medical history, and their level of physical activity, said Cornish.

During the mobile examination centre phase, health professionals employed by Statistics Canada will take selected participants’ physical health measurements, including height, weight, neck and waist circumferences. Participants will also have their blood pressure measured, as well as their fitness level, vision and musculoskeletal health.

In addition, biospecimens will be collected to assess the cardiovascular health, nutritional status and exposure to environmental contaminants in selected participants.

“Basically, you’re getting a full health profile of yourself,” said Cornish. “People are interested in their own health. This gives you a baseline – this is where you’re at right now – a really comprehensive baseline as to what your current health conditions is.”

Households that have already been contacted to participate in the survey have roughly two weeks to do the in-home interview, and a month left for the mobile health exam, according to Cornish.

“In about four or five months after they’ve finished, then they get a full write up of their medical status,” she said.

Statistics Canada currently only publishes the results of the Canadian Health Measures Survey for the public at large on a provincial and national basis, so those looking for results specific to the North Shore will be out of luck, said Cornish.

“We don’t produce it for the community level, partly because of confidentiality,” she said.

“Because we’ve been doing it for such a long time, and because we’re very careful to pick rural and urban centres as well as representatives from all 10 provinces, I think you’re getting a pretty good look at what the country is like nationally.”

The Canadian Health Measures Survey is conducted on an ongoing basis by Statistics Canada, with information collected by the survey used for a host of statistical and research purposes around the country.

“Because it’s a continual collection there’s public releases, information releases, data releases on a fairly regular basis,” said Cornish, adding that Health Canada can use the information to help with overall health outcomes for all Canadians.

“A lot of money goes into health and health care and health programs to help Canadians be healthier or get healthier, and so this helps them to be able to plan programs.”

Visit statcan.gc.ca/eng/survey/household/5071 for more information about the Canadian Health Measures Survey.

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