NEW YORK CITY – June 1, 2006 – New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden and Dr. John Howard – Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and Coordinator for federal World Trade Center health response programs, today urged all 71,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry (WTCHR) to participate in the first of several planned follow-up surveys since the Registry was launched in 2003. Joining Dr. Frieden and Dr. Howard for today’s announcement were members of the WTC Community Advisory Board, Scientific and Labor Advisory Committees, WTCHR staff and enrollees. The announcement was made at Nelson Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, lower Manhattan.
Over the past several months, DOHMH has attempted to contact all 71,000 enrollees to let them know about this follow up survey and is in the process of sending information to enrollees about how they can participate in the survey. Enrollees can expect to receive this information by email, if they provided an email address, or in hard copy within the next several weeks. This will be the first opportunity for enrollees to inform the Registry about their physical and mental health over the past two years.
The Registry provides important information on the symptoms and health conditions reported by many different population groups affected by the attacks. Results will be used to improve the recognition and treatment of conditions potentially associated with exposure to WTC, both for registrants and others. For example, as announced in April of this year, approximately 8,000 survivors of buildings that collapsed or were damaged as a result of the World Trade Center attack had substantial mental health problems and reported high levels of respiratory symptoms when interviewed in 2003 and 2004.
Dr. Frieden said, "The WTC attack was an unprecedented urban environmental event. Hundreds of thousands of residents, pedestrians, workers, and members of rescue, recovery and cleanup teams were exposed to psychological stress and potential environmental contaminants. At the time of the first survey in 2003 - 2004, thousands of people still reported significant mental health and respiratory impacts. Continued follow-up is important to identifying conditions that require further attention, and designing projects and treatments to help those still reporting adverse health effects from 9/11."
Dr. Howard said, "The Registry's follow-up survey is an important step forward in expanding our knowledge of the health effects of the events of 9/11 among diverse groups of individuals nearly five years after the tragic events. We are proud to support DOHMH’s follow-up survey and encourage all enrollees to participate."
Dr. Lorna Thorpe, DOHMH’s Deputy Commissioner for Epidemiology Services, said, "To all of our WTC health registrants, we thank you for participating in the first survey and making this registry a strong resource to learn about the potential health effects of the WTC attacks. We are counting on your help again to help us learn as much as we can from this terrible tragedy."
Marijo Russell O’Grady, Chair of the WTC Community Advisory Board (CAB) and a lower Manhattan resident said, "The Registry will give us valuable information about the potential long-term effects of 9/11. As a resident of lower Manhattan, I can say that none of us will soon forget this tragedy, and information the Registry will provide is crucial to our recovery."
Peter Gorman, an FDNY Captain, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and a member of the WTC Labor Advisory Committee, said, "The more people that participate in this and all planned follow up surveys for the WTCHR will help get information not just to our uniformed workers, but our residents, children and families."
How Enrollees can Participate in the Follow up Survey
All 71,000 enrollees who completed a 30-minute telephone interview during 2003 and 2004 are urged to participate in the follow up survey. The more enrollees who continue to participate in follow-up surveys, the better the Registry will be at assessing the health impacts of the 9/11 disaster and determining how to help enrollees and others who were directly affected by 9/11. Starting this week, all enrollees who provided an email address will receive an email with a link to the on-line version of the survey. Those who did not provide an email address will be mailed a paper copy of the survey, which should be completed and returned in the pre-paid return envelope. A specialized pediatric survey will be sent to parents and guardians of enrollees under 18 years of age.
- Enrollees are urged to update their contact information so they can receive the survey quickly.
- The survey takes about 15-30 minutes to complete and is available in English, Spanish and Chinese with other languages available via a translation hotline.
- The follow up survey includes many of the same health questions from the initial interviews done in 2003-2004. It will also include follow-up questions to clarify information from the first survey, and new questions for specific groups in the Registry.
- The answers in this follow-up survey will be linked to the responses to the 2003/2004 survey.
- Enrollee responses are protected by a Federal Certificate of Confidentiality. Responses to the follow-up survey will provide an update on the current physical and mental health of 71,000 enrollees five years after the events of 9/11.
About the World Trade Center Health Registry
The WTCHR was launched on September 5, 2003, to track the health of residents, school children, workers and others who were directly exposed to the collapse of the World Trade. It is the only resource designed to track and maintain contact with a wide array of diverse groups of persons most highly affected by the event, including lower Manhattan residents, school children and staff, building occupants, persons in transit and visitors, as well as rescue, recovery and cleanup workers and volunteers. The survey aims to track the physical and mental health of people exposed to the events related to September 11, 2001 for up to twenty years.
Findings drawn from the World Trade Center Health Registry will enable researchers to determine whether any disease patterns exist among registrants. All information given will be kept strictly private and confidential, and no medical examinations or tests were required for initial enrollment.
The Registry maintains a comprehensive directory of available resources and treatment options to benefit participants and others affected by the disaster at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wtc/wtc-resource.pdf. The Registry is also a unique resource open to health experts around the world to help them conduct more in-depth health investigations (see Guidelines for External Researchers http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/wtc/wtc-research-guidelines.pdf).
The WTCHR is the largest effort ever in the U.S. to systemically monitor the health of persons exposed to a large-scale disaster and a model for future or currently needed disaster surveillance efforts. The World Trade Center Health Registry is a collaborative effort between DOHMH and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Visit http://www.wtcregistry.org for more information on the Registry.