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New Mexicans Surveyed To Improve Their Health

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Starting at the beginning of January, the New Mexico Department of Health will call New Mexicans to survey them about their health behaviors for the Department’s annual survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The survey is designed to provide information on behaviors and risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases and other health conditions among adults in New Mexico.

The Department’s survey unit in the Epidemiology and Response Division will call about 9,000 individuals during days, nights and weekends over the next year. Staff conduct surveys in English and Spanish. The phone numbers are randomly generated, and staff does not know or collect the person’s name or address that they are calling.

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“We want to assure you that all information you give us is protected and confidential,” said Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil. “We value your privacy and the data you provide us, which helps us design effective prevention programs to improve the health of New Mexicans.”

The national survey asks for demographic information and covers such topics as health care access, exercise, diabetes, oral health, disability, tobacco use, falls, seatbelt use, anxiety and depression, and cancer screening. For example, 26.4 percent of adults in New Mexico reported in 2007 not having health-care coverage compared to 16.6 percent of adults in the United States.

In the past, New Mexico’s survey has asked about gambling, suicide, bankruptcy, children’s health care access, emergency contraceptives and asthma in the work place. New topics this year include Native American health issues, race and ethnicity. Staff will also call 250 cell phone users for the first time.

The survey has been done in New Mexico since 1986 and by the Department of Health since 1997. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the survey, which is conducted in every state.