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June 27 -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invites comments to OMB by July 27, 2023 regarding reinstatement of the Standardized National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire.

It is estimated that each year roughly one in six Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. CDC and partners ensure rapid and coordinated surveillance, detection, and response to multistate outbreaks, to limit the number of these illnesses, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.

Conducting interviews during the initial hypothesis-generating phase of multistate foodborne disease outbreaks presents numerous challenges. In the United States there is not a standard, national form or data collection system for illnesses caused by many enteric pathogens. Data elements for hypothesis generation must be developed and agreed upon for each investigation. This process can take several days to weeks and may cause interviews to occur long after a person becomes ill.

CDC requests a Reinstatement of this project, called the Standardized National Hypothesis-Generating Questionnaire, to collect standardized information from individuals who have become ill during a multistate foodborne disease event. Since the questionnaire is designed to be administered by public health officials as part of multistate hypothesis-generating interview activities, this questionnaire is not expected to entail significant burden to respondents.

The Standardized National Hypothesis-Generating Core Elements Project was established with the goal to define a core set of data elements to be used for hypothesis generation during multistate foodborne investigations. These elements represent information that should be available for all outbreak-associated cases identified during hypothesis generation. The core elements would ensure that similar exposures would be ascertained across many jurisdictions, allowing for rapid pooling of data to improve the timeliness of hypothesis-generating analyses and to shorten the time to pinpoint how and where contamination events occur.

The Standardized National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire (SNHGQ) was designed as a data collection tool for the core elements, to be used when a multistate cluster of enteric disease infections is identified. The questionnaire is designed to be administered over the phone by public health officials to collect core elements data from case-patients or their proxies. Both the content of the questionnaire (the core elements) and the format were developed through a series of working groups comprised of local, state, and federal public health partners.

Since the last revision of the SNHGQ in 2019, CDC has investigated over 470 possible multistate foodborne and enteric clusters of infection involving over 26,000 ill people. Of which, an outbreak vehicle has been identified in 199 of these investigations. These outbreaks have led to many recalls and countless regulatory actions that have removed millions of pounds of contaminated vehicles out of commerce. In almost all instances, the SNHGQ or iterations of the SNHGQ have been instrumental in the successful investigation of these outbreaks. The questionnaire has allowed investigators to more efficiently and effectively interview ill persons as they are identified. Because these exposures are captured in a common, standard format, we have been able to share and analyze data rapidly across jurisdictional lines. Faster interview response and analysis times have allowed for more rapid epidemiologic investigation and quicker regulatory action, thus helping to prevent thousands of additional illnesses from occurring and spurring industry to adopt and implement new food safety measures in an effort to prevent future outbreaks.

CDC Foodborne Outbreaks: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/index.html
CDC Submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202306-0920-011 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-13568

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

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