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May 19 -- The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) invites comments to OMB by June 26, 2023 regarding the proposed new Rapid Surveys System (RSS). The RSS is a new survey system being designed to complement the current household survey systems at NCHS. The RSS will use survey data from probability-based online panels to produce time-sensitive estimates of new and emerging public health topics, attitudes, and behaviors. [Comments are due 30 days after submission to OMB on May 25, 2023.]

Section 306 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act (42 U.S.C.), as amended, authorizes that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), acting through NCHS, collect data about the health of the population of the United States. The NCHS Rapid Surveys System (RSS) will collect data on emerging public health topics, attitudes, and behaviors using cross-sectional samples from two commercially available, national probability-based online panels. The RSS will then combine these data to form estimates that approximate national representation in ways that many data collection approaches cannot. The RSS is intended to collect data in contexts in which decision makers' need for time-sensitive data of known quality about emerging and priority health concerns is a higher priority than their need for statistically unbiased estimates.

The RSS will complement NCHS's current household survey systems. As quicker turnaround surveys that require less accuracy and precision than CDC's more rigorous population representative surveys, the RSS will incorporate multiple mechanisms to carefully evaluate the resulting survey data for their appropriateness for use in public health surveillance and research (e.g., hypothesis generating) and facilitate continuous quality improvement by supplementing these panels with intensive efforts to understand how well the estimates reflect populations at most risk. The RSS data dissemination strategy will communicate the strengths and limitations of data collected through online probability panels as compared to more robust data collection methods.

The RSS has three major goals: (1) to provide CDC and other partners with time-sensitive data of known quality about emerging and priority health concerns; (2) to use these data collections to continue NCHS's evaluation of the quality of public health estimates generated from commercial online panels; and (3) to improve methods to communicate the appropriateness of public health estimates generated from commercial online panels.

Each round's questionnaire will consist of four main components: (1) basic demographic information on respondents to be used as covariates in analyses; (2) new, emerging, or supplemental content proposed by NCHS, other CDC Centers, Institute, and Offices, and other HHS agencies; (3) questions used for calibrating the survey weights; and (4) additional content selected by NCHS to evaluate against relevant benchmarks. NCHS will use questions from Components 1 and 2 to provide relevant, timely data on new, emerging, and priority health topics to be used for decision making. NCHS will use questions from Components 3 and 4 to weight and evaluate the quality of the estimates coming from questions in Components 1 and 2. Components 1 and 2 will contain different topics in each round of the survey. NCHS will submit a 30-day Federal Register Notice with information on the contents of each round of data collection.

In the first round of RSS, contributed content is included on knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding Long COVID; mammograms and notifications about breast density; medical procedures on fallopian tubes and ovaries; concerns about genetic testing; knowledge about the relationship between alcohol use and cancer; sunscreen use and beliefs about sunscreen; use of chemical hair straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products; use of air cleaners or purifiers in the home; intimate partner violence; and new questions about race and ethnicity to assist in the development of recommendations on how to improve the quality and usefulness of OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15.

NCHS will calibrate data from the RSS to other surveys. Questions used for calibration in the first round of RSS will include marital status and employment, social and work limitations, use of the internet in general and for medical reasons, telephone use, civic engagement, and language used at home and in other settings. All these questions have been on the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in prior years allowing calibration to these data.

Finally, several questions that were previously on NHIS will be used for benchmarking. Panelists in the RSS will be asked if they have been told they have chronic conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and Long COVID. Questions about self-reported health; pregnancy status; height and weight, difficulty paying medical bills; access to and use of medical, dental, eye care and physical therapy; preventive care; mental health; and cigarette use will be used to benchmark the RSS to NCHS surveys.

The RSS is designed to have four rounds of data collection each year with data being collected by two contractors with probability panels. A cross-sectional nationally representative sample will be drawn from the online probability panel maintained by each of the contractors. As part of the base (minimum sample size), each round of data collection will collect 2,000 responses per quarter. The RSS can be expanded by increasing the number of completed responses per round or the number of rounds per year as needed up to a maximum of 28,000 responses per year per contractor or 56,000 total responses per year. Additionally, each data collection may include up to 2,000 additional responses per quarter (8,000 for the year) to improve representativeness. This increases the maximum burden by up to 16,000 responses per year. The RSS may also target individual surveys to collect data only from specific subgroups within existing survey panels and may supplement data collection for such groups with additional respondents from other probability or nonprobability samples. An additional 12,000 responses per year may be used for these developmental activities. Survey questions being asked of the panelists will be cognitively tested. This cognitive testing will help survey users interpret the findings by understanding how respondents answer each question.

NCHS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202305-0920-003 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-10745

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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