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989 receive letters to participate in national health survey
Jennifer Rodrigues

The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) has begun conducting a national health survey on behalf of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), including 989 addresses in Rhode Island.

People selected to participate in the survey received letters over the weekend explaining that an RTI field interviewer would be coming to their house to conduct an interview soon.

Elvia Rosales, a data analyst with RTI, was able to provide more information on the survey and the interview process.

“It is a national survey on drug use and health issues,” Rosales said Monday. She said questions could relate to drug use, alcohol, tobacco, other substances and mental health.

She said this survey is conducted annually and has been conducted since 1971.

Addresses were selected completely at random from all 50 states. According to the letter from the USPHS Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, more than 200,000 addresses received letters.

Rosales pointed out that since addresses were chosen at random, residents might not be selected to complete a full interview. According to Rosales, the field interviewer will first conduct a five-minute interview of screening questions to determine if the resident matches criteria of the survey.

“It is possible one or two residents will be chosen, but it is also possible no one will be selected,” explained Rosales. She also said only residents 12 years of age or older would be eligible for the survey.

When asked when the field interviewer could be expected in the area, Rosales explained that is was a quarter-long survey beginning on July 1, so the interviewer could show up between now and the end of October.

“However, they try to show up in the first few weeks of the survey,” said Rosales.

If a resident is not at home when the interviewer shows up, he or she will return at another date. To make things easier on residents who do wish to participate in the survey, they may call the 800 number featured on their letter, and Rosales or another representative can schedule an interview time.

Rosales and her fellow employees can also answer any questions or concerns about the survey residents may have.

The letter also explains that it is addressed to “Resident” because the address was selected, not the individual. RTI does not know the resident’s name and for the most part, Rosales says it will stay that way.

“The only time [the interviewer] will ask for the name is for a follow-up call on interviewer performance. They will ask for a first name,” said Rosales.

However that will only occur for individuals not selected to participate in the full survey after the screening questions. Those residents selected to participate in the survey will be asked to provide an age but no names.

The most important portion of the letter is instructions on how to identify if the interviewer who arrives at the resident’s home is indeed from RTI.

It reads, “When the interviewer arrives, please ask to see his or her personal identification card.” In addition, the letter features a mock-up of a proper RTI identification card and the name of the field interviewer assigned to the resident’s address.

In addition, individuals chosen that complete the interview will receive $30 in cash.

If you received a letter from the USPHS about this survey and have any questions or would like to schedule your interview to participate, call the number on the bottom of the letter and a representative will assist.


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