Cellular Engineering

Mice with Sickle Cell Genes

Online Health Survey

Smog NOx Detector

Cleaning Up Dirty Silicon

Priority Service for the Internet

Climate Modeling Tools for Weather Forecasting

Imaging Liquids

Magic Sizes and Microscopic Crucibles

Online Health Survey Seeks to Sign Up Millions

A researcher in Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division has launched what he hopes will be the first epidemiological mega-survey on the Internet. The National Health Survey can be found on the World Wide Web at The study was initiated by scientist Paul Williams in order to identify foods, dietary supplements, exercises, and medical practices (traditional and alternative) that could increase life expectancy and reduce chronic diseases. Williams hopes it will provide both a national health status report and possibly an early warning system for drugs or dietary supplements that have serious side effects.

The Internet could prove to be a boon to epidemiological science, Williams says. "Whereas these prior 'pencil and paper' questionnaires are expensive to produce, distribute, and analyze, the new broader National Health Study on the Internet will cost only pennies per person and will allow two-way interaction. It is a statistical fact that the larger the study, the greater the precision for identifying links between lifestyles and health. The goal of the study is to recruit 20 million Americans into the first epidemiological mega-survey."

The survey provides immediate benefits to those who sign up. Participants who enter their data through the Internet will receive an automatic on-the-spot analysis of their diet, physical activity, and weight. They will be re-contacted every three months for the opportunity to update their personal information and to report on their health status. At no charge, participants can choose to have their dietary analysis sent to their physicians, health counselors, or whomever they choose.

Williams says his goal is to give each person who enrolls in the study more information than they provide. For example, individuals will learn how much exercise they are doing relative to others of their same age and sex, and also receive an evaluation about their weight and diet. These analyses will be provided without cost or without any obligation to join the study. Data from those participants who do choose to join will be used to test how exercise, diet, and dietary supplements affect disease risk. All information provided will be strictly confidential.

Next: New Smog Detector

Research Review Fall '98 Index | Berkeley Lab