2011-09-02 / Top Stories

WTC Health Sets Major Survey

The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Registry launches its third major survey this summer of more than 70,000 people who were exposed to the WTC attacks and the after-math, including nearly 13,000 who currently reside outside the New York/New Jersey area. The Registry, which has surveyed the same cohort twice before, will examine the health status of the survey participants ten years after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. As the nation’s largest cohort of WTC-exposed peo-ple, the Registry includes rescue and recovery workers, Lower Manhattan residents, area workers, students and passersby and is the most comprehensive post-disaster public health registry in the United States. Registry enrollees can obtain more information about completing this third survey by e-mailing the Registry at wtchr@health.nyc.gov or calling the Registry through 311.

“Findings from the Registry’s two prior surveys helped establish the burden of posttraumatic stress disor der and respiratory illness among di-rectly exposed people,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Only now has sufficient time passed to begin investigating potential late emerging and longterm health ef-fects associated with WTC exposure. Responses to the third survey will provide researchers with health up-dates that can help guide clinical ser-vices in the future.”

By asking about mental and physi-cal symptoms ten years after 9/11, the survey will obtain information about the persistence or resolution of the most common health effects asso-ciated with WTC exposure such as posttraumatic stress disorder and asthma. New mental health ques-tions will ask about functional status, depression, anxiety and history of traumatic stress before and after 9/11, which will help inform an understanding of the long-term mental health impacts after 9/11. The new survey will also ask questions related to asthma control, sleep apnea, other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders and other po-tential late-emerging conditions.

Responses to new questions about health care access will be useful for assessing gaps in care and referring enrollees to treatment services now available through the federal WTC Health Program, established in July 2011 by the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

The Registry population includes more than 69,000 adults. Approximately 1,300 children and adolescents under the age of 18 will be surveyed separately later this year. These enrollees, or their parents or guardians, first volunteered to respond to periodic health surveys in 2003-2004 before the Registry was closed to new participants.

“Every survey counts,” said WTC Health Registry Director Mark Farfel, ScD. “We know we can provide a more complete picture of 9/11 health impacts when more Registry enrollees respond to our surveys, so we’ve worked hard to make our third survey as user-friendly as possible, including having Spanish and Chinese language surveys. It only takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete and is available online or in paper format. We also will call those who don’t respond to encourage them to participate.”

Data collection will continue through early March 2012, with outreach support from the Registry’s labor and community advisory groups, who also provided input on survey questions along with the Registry’s scientific advisory group.

Published results of the first and second Registry surveys, particularly those regarding the health of Lower Manhattan residents, area workers and students, helped support passage of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The Act, signed into law by President Obama earlier this year, includes a WTC Health Program for survivors who, for the first time, will be able to ac-cess services anywhere in the coun-try. Rescue and recovery workers and volunteers have had access to similar services since 2008.

The previous two surveys have yielded important information about health effects of the disaster.

Enrollees can contact the Registry by email at wtchr@health.nyc.gov or by phone through 311 or directly at 1-866-692-9827.

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