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Factors to Consider for a Responder Health Research Study

 

Exposure-related factors
  • Presence of exposures to hazardous substances, conditions, trauma, etc.
  • Existence of unique, novel, or unusual exposures
  • Presence of complex environments or combined exposures
  • Potential implications of exposures on worker health
  • Types of science/research methodologies necessary to address/answer exposure questions
 Adverse health event-related factors
  • Observance or anticipation of unique, novel, particularly serious, or unusual adverse health events
  • Occurrence of unexpected or unforeseen occupational health issues during or following an event
  • Presence of higher than expected number or rates of a specific adverse health event or of overall events
  • Occurrence of adverse health problems associated with exposures below applicable occupational limits
Public health significance and scientific importance
  • Ability to provide new knowledge or information about an exposure-outcome relationship
  • Ability to evaluate specific exposures or outcomes that have not been adequately studied
  • Ability to generalize to other situations or populations
  • Ability to confirm or refute a preliminary or pre-existing hypothesis or theory
  • Ability to answer questions that need to be answered and cannot be answered any other way
  • Ability to contribute to or directly improve the public health response to disasters
  • Magnitude of event, for example, a large number of workers exposed or considered at risk
Societal factors
  • High-profile or traumatic event
  • Beliefs about harm or resource disparities, particularly among high-risk groups
  • Unique vulnerability of the worker population
  • Socioeconomic, legal, political, and psychological implications of the event
Feasibility factors
  • Access to the work site(s)
  • Ability to quickly collect reliable data, particularly if data could be lost if not collected immediately
  • Ability to document or validate human health consequences
  • Ability to assign workers into exposure categories to permit exposure-related assessment
  • Adequate study size and statistical power
  • Ability to identify and locate subjects and records
  • Availability of an appropriate control or comparison population
  • Ability to address potential confounding factors
  • Ability to measure and disentangle the relevant environmental, behavioral, or other factors
  • Ability to reasonably estimate or document individual exposure
  • Adequacy of resources to support, conduct, and complete the study
  • Adequacy of support from employers and unions or other relevant stakeholders (e.g. federal agencies, state or local agencies or components of trade groups, etc.)
  • Ability to provide participants with necessary confidentiality
  • Ability to address potential ethical issues and obtain expeditious Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for time-sensitive research
  • For federal agencies, ability to obtain timely emergency clearance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for survey instruments that fall under the jurisdiction of the Paperwork Reduction Act
  • Adequacy of preliminary or baseline data to support the study (this is implied in some of the above bullets)
Level of research interest
  • Research arising from academic/research areas of interest
  • Contribution to established institution program goals, such as emergency response research priority areas

Taken from Decker JA, et al. 2013. Am J Disaster Med 2013 Jan/Mar; 8(1):25-33.

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