It appears that “elderly white men” are not doing their fair share of work to contribute to a national database of body fluids.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program of the National Center for Health Statistics, revealed the problem in a recent online statement regarding plans to transfer the nation’s database to a private contractor.
“Older white men” are particularly under-represented in the compilation of statistics and details of the collection, which has been in development since the 1960s, officials said.
In fact, it explicitly explains that the federal government lacks sufficient data on white males over 80.
“One of the rarest groups sampled are elderly white men,” the organization explained on its website.
“Sometimes the interviewer goes to a house with the sampling direction: ‘Look for white men, 80 and older.’ If there’s not a white male 80 and older living there, no one is selected from that household,” NHANES said.
The government’s aim in collecting these voluntarily contributed biologic samples is to assess “the prevalence of chronic conditions in the population.”
It gathers information through a combination of phone interviews and community visits by CDC’s Mobile Exam Center.
The issue arose because of planning documents that WND found during routine database research. They reveal the government collection of the body fluids of Americans soon will transfer into the hands of a private contractor, which will take over management of this 300,000-specimen biologic repository from the Centers for Disease Control.
CDC describes this store of blood, urine, oral-rinse and vaginal-swab samples as the “only nationally representative collection of stored specimens on the U.S. population.”
CDC is urging citizen cooperation as it continues to amass data through NHANES.
CDC anticipates “future use” of these surplus specimens, partly because additional or repeat experiments may be deemed necessary.
It is, therefore, reaching out to the private sector to find a long-term home for the biologic samples, which the selected contractor will inventory and monitor, while sometimes delivering to government-authorized researchers.
CDC will provide that company with 16 or more storage freezers of unknown dimensions to store the specimens, the project’s Statement of Work, or SOW says.
The work, however, will be performed at a nongovernmental facility, where the contractor also will provide retrieval and shipment services on an as-needed basis, the SOW says.
The company will fetch an unspecified rate for various shipment ranges, whether in batches from one to 999 specimens or as many as 10,000-plus.
“As part of the NHANES physical exams, blood, and urine are collected from participating sample persons,” the SOW says. “More specimen volume is collected than is usually required for the biochemical tests due to the possibility that blood and urine tests may need to be repeated.”
Despite the possibility that such tests might have to be repeated, CDC acknowledges that most tests will not require repeating, thereby leaving a large surplus of biologic specimens. Using currently stored specimens, researchers have conducted over 100 projects, according to the SOW.
The document, however, did not identify or cite those research projects.
CDC says on the survey website that NHANES has helped improve the health of “all Americans” over the past 40 years.
Among improvements that CDC directly attributes to the annual survey is the development of child growth charts, the elimination of leaded gasoline and the government promotion of child vaccination.
Federal law constrains CDC from giving out information that identifies survey participants and their families without consent.
“This means that we cannot give out any fact about you, even if a court of law asks for it,” CDC says. “We will keep all survey data safe and secure.
“When we allow researchers to use survey data, we protect your privacy. We assign code numbers in place of names or other facts that could identify you.”
CDC did not disclose the estimated cost of the repository transfer.