Publication Abstract

Authors: Graubard BI, Korn EL

Title: Analyzing health surveys for cancer-related objectives.

Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst 91(12):1005-16

Date: 1999 Jun 16

Abstract: Large-scale health surveys conducted by government agencies record information on a large number of health-related variables. We review the use of these data for performing analyses that address cancer-related objectives. After describing the conduct of a large-scale health survey (the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES III]), we discuss some of the issues involved in analyzing data collected in such a survey. In particular, the use of sample weights in the analysis and the importance of accounting for the complex survey design when estimating standard errors are discussed. Six applications are then presented that involve the following: 1) estimating demographic factors associated with snuff use, 2) estimating the association of type of health insurance with the probability of receiving a digital rectal examination, 3) estimating the association of body iron stores with the probability of later developing cancer, 4) estimating the changing rates of mammography screening in the United States between 1987 and 1992, 5) evaluating smoking and alcohol consumption as risk factors for digestive cancer by use of a population-based, case-control study, and 6) evaluating a randomized community-intervention experiment to encourage smoking cessation. These applications use data from the National Health Interview Survey, the NHANES I Epidemiologic Followup Study, the 1986 National Mortality Followback Survey, and the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation. The availability of public-use data files is discussed for surveys sponsored by the U.S. government that collect health-related information. We demonstrate that statistical methods and computer software are available for analyzing public-use data files of surveys to address different types of cancer-related objectives.