Mass DPH Health Study Plans

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This section will describe the evolving plans and events of the Logan Health Study. To access this information,  click one of these links:
CAC Meeting of March 13, 2002
Plans As Of December 21, 2001
Plans As Of October 30, 2001
Plans As Of 6/28/00

CAC Meeting of March 13, 2002 
The meeting was held at the MDPH offices at 250 Washington Street in Boston MA. MDPH was represented by Elaine Krueger, Chief, Environmental Toxicology Program, and Greg Merriman, Logan Health Study Project Coordinator. Dr. Ronald D. Deprez represented the Public Health Resource Group (PHRG), who have contracted with MDPH to design the survey instrument, conduct the telephone interviews and crystallize the interview data. Dr. Deprez was the main presenter, and the meeting focused on development of the survey instrument and telephone interview techniques.

Nine CAC members represented the communities of Winthrop, East Boston, Boston, South Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Revere. The attending CAC members included physicians, people with epidemiological experience, members with positions on their communities' Boards of Health and those holding other official health related responsibilities. Representing Winthrop were Dr. Brian Dumser, Barbara Flavin, and Arthur Flavin of the Winthrop AIR Environment-Health Committee.

A great deal of information was presented about PHRG, the design of the survey instrument, and the techniques of telephone interviewing. You can access this information by clicking on the following links:
About the Public Health Resource Group
MDPH Logan Health Study Design 

Plans As Of December 21, 2001
The following information is based on a communication from Elaine Krueger, Chief, Environmental Toxicology Program, BEHA, MDPH, dated December 21, 2001:
The BEHA is pleased to announce that  the Public Health Resource Group (PHRG), the company that will be conducting the Logan Health Study interviews, is officially under contract with MDPH. MDPH and PHRG are in the process of designing the survey instrument for the telephone interviews. PHRG has provided to the BEHA a tentative timeline for finalizing the survey instrument by the end of February or early March, and conducting pilot testing to ensure that the survey can be administered efficiently and accurately. PHRG plans to test the survey instrument in a population of randomly selected individuals around Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine. Interviews for the Logan Health Study population should start several weeks after that.
While the survey instrument is being finished and tested, MDPH will also be evaluating how best to categorize opportunities for exposure to the airport (e.g. distance of residence to the airport, residence in relation to flight patterns, and available monitoring data). Assessing opportunities for exposure will help inform the sampling plan for participants in the interviews. The results of statistical power and sample-size calculations that MDPH has performed suggest a sample size of approximately 2700 people. It is anticipated that a draft of the sampling plan will be completed by the end of February, 2002.
Finalizing the survey instrument and completing a draft of the sampling plan are two major milestones that are planned over the next several weeks. For that reason, BEHA believes that it would be more a more efficient use of the CAC's time for MDPH to provide a written status report later in January or early February and reconvene, as previously scheduled, on March 12, 2002 By the March meeting, the BEHA hopes to discuss with the CAC the BEHA draft of the sampling plan and plans for initiating and conducting the interviews, and if representatives from PHRG are available, for CAC members to both meet them and ask questions.

The Project Timetable has been updated to reflect the above information. To access the Timetable, click here.

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Plans As Of October 30, 2001
These plans were discussed at the First Community Advisory Committee Meeting, and have not been finalized. When firmer plans are available, we'll make them known. To find out about the CAC, click here.

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Plans As Of 6/28/00
The following planning items were presented at the Winthrop Public Meeting 6/28/00.

  • Legislative language has defined the framework of the study. (e.g. All Communities within a five mile radius of Logan Airport.) This significantly impacts both the scope and the approach to the Study
  • Legislative language has allocated $150,000 for the Health Study. This is a very modest sum, and will be stretched to cover just administrative expenses. It is enough to get the study moving, to design the study, and to identify the ultimate cost. The BEHA will request additional money during subsequent budget cycles. Continuation of the Health Study will depend upon future actions of the State Legislature to provide money in the budgets.
  • The Mass State BEHA Study will build upon the Winthrop Health Study in a way that addresses comprehensive Mass DPH methodologies. The results of the BEHA study will not be subject to questions of potential biases.
  • There are two alternatives to the study methodology:
  • Analysis of Pediatric Asthma Data gathered from schools. This data could be a good indicator of asthma incidence because it would minimize the affects of behavioral factors (smoking, occupational) affecting adults. It would not be able to identify every child with asthma, however, because school records do not identify every child with asthma. There are currently 242 middle schools, 48 high schools and thousands of children in the Study area. However, data from private schools would not be available. 

  • A "Symptom Prevalence Telephone Survey". This would be a statistical sampling by household; each telephone interview could take from 45 minutes to an hour. It is difficult to get interviewees to participate for that long, yet, it is very important to get complete information. This is the currently preferred method of the future survey.

  • No matter which survey methodology is chosen, the survey will be very large. It will analyze a statistical sample representing 150,000 people and take over two years.
  • If the "Symptom Prevalence Telephone Survey" is chosen as the methodology, communities closer to Logan will be "over sampled". This will allow analysis within the communities and allow comparisons between neighborhoods (like the Winthrop Health Study). Communities would include Winthrop, South Boston, East Boston and Roxbury, and others.
    Note: The Winthrop AIR EHC believes this to be extremely important. The success of the Winthrop Health Study was because communities very close to Logan (e.g. Court Road) could be analyzed and compared to more remote neighborhoods (e.g. Winthrop Highlands). Not using over-sampling would consolidate all Winthrop data into a single analysis, and prove little about the impact of Logan Airport. Very small distances are important!
  • A "Peer Review Group" of scientists outside the BEHA will be established to ensure assessment techniques are above question, and to provide expert backup to the BEHA.
  • A Community Advisory Group (CAG) will be established to solicit input from communities.
    Note: The Winthrop AIR EHC considers this to be a key to success.

Additional information is available in the  Mass DPH Health Study Time Table. Click here, or  in the button at the top of the page.

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