Federal authorities are coming to Union County this week to give residents a checkup as part of a massive government health study.
For participating, people will get paid as well as receive several thousand dollars worth of free medical tests.
Its all for a study now in its 51st year, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES. Results of the survey by the National Center for Health Statistics in the Centers for Disease Control are used in an array of public and private research.
Researchers want to study about 5,000 people nationwide for the survey, billed as the most comprehensive study of the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population.
They look at different counties to fill various demographic needs, and each person chosen may represent up to 65,000 people with certain similar characteristics.
Study manager Jacque DeMatteis said Union County helps in several areas because it is kind of a melting pot, with a range of demographics to choose from. Researchers will ask people to participate in NHANES; they do not take volunteers.
Census data are used to help decide where researchers will look, and people who could be selected are sent a letter saying that the field staff will come by for a brief interview to take health and related history.
From there, some or all members of the household may be asked to participate in a health exam at the NHANES mobile exam center at The Shops of Nottingham Plaza, 2585 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe.
Although no medical care is provided at the exam, DeMatteis said all participants receive a report on the findings and an explanation from medical staff. Tests and procedures vary by age.
They cover the basics, such as height and weight, and may include an oral health exam, body composition scan, bone density scan and lab tests that could include blood work. All told, the tests can be worth up to an estimated $4,150.
The government gets the benefit of the data while the residents get free tests and some money for participating.
People get paid up to $125 for the exam, plus transportation costs, or transportation will be provided. There also is the opportunity for some additional money if they participate in a follow-up study over the phone.
DeMatteis believes this is the first time Union County residents are being asked to participate, although Mecklenburg and other N.C. counties have been included in previous years.
Field interviews start Saturday and exams will be held between March 16 and April 17. DeMatteis expects her staff will knock on 700 to 750 doors, and ultimately use about 350 people from Union County for the research.
She stressed that confidentiality is strictly maintained throughout the process.