News Archives 2008

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008


Westat Awarded New GSA IT Schedule

Westat has been awarded an Information Technology (IT) Schedule 70 contract from the General Services Administration (GSA). Agencies can now access our IT expertise and solutions using this new contract vehicle. Offered services include Web and database development and hosting, contact center operations, application development, and Blaise software licenses and training. In addition to the IT Schedule 70 contract, Westat holds two other GSA Schedule contracts: Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS) and Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions (AIMS). Through these three contracts, we can provide our Government clients with a broad range of Westat services using streamlined procurement procedures.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat Wins Multiple Awards for Web Site Development

Two professional communications organizations have granted awards to several Westat projects in recognition of their excellence in communication on the Web. The awards acknowledge our clients' vision and expertise in developing effective communication tools in collaboration with Westat's project teams of writers, graphic artists, web specialists, and support staff.

W3 Awards

Westat has been honored with four Silver Awards from the W3 Awards [*]. The competition spotlights creative excellence on the Web. It also recognizes the creative and marketing professionals behind award-winning sites, videos, and marketing programs. Westat completed the work on behalf of its clients at the National Institutes of Health.

In the category of Health:

In the category of Government:

The W³ is sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts [*], an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a "Who's Who" of acclaimed media, interactive, advertising, and marketing firms.


The Web Marketing Association's (WMA's) WebAward [*] for Government Standard of Excellence has been given to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Westat for outstanding achievement in web site development for the site: FTC — A Great Place to Work [*].

This award recognizes the standard of excellence for which all web sites should strive. The web site enables the FTC to compete with large law firms for choice recruits for its Bureau of Consumer Protection. It emphasizes the exciting work and exceptional benefits the agency offers, and it reaches and resonates with busy law students and practicing attorneys considering a career move.

WMA judged more than 2,400 sites from 45 countries in 96 industry categories during this year's competition. Judging criteria included design, copy writing, innovation, content, interactivity, navigation, and use of technology.

For more information: Contact Westat


Michael Shea Participated at UN World Urban Forum IV, Nanjing, China

Michael Shea, a Westat Senior Study Director, presented a paper and served as a panel moderator at the UN World Urban Forum IV [*] in Nanjing, China. The conference, which was held November 3-7, 2008, was hosted by the UN-Habitat and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction, the People's Republic of China. This year's conference theme was Harmonious Urbanization: The Challenge of Balanced Territorial Development.

Mr. Shea's paper is titled Multilateral and Bilateral Funding of Housing and Slum Upgrading Development in Developing Countries. The paper presents the following:

  • An overview of funding trends for housing and slum upgrading by multilateral and bilateral donor countries, and
  • A description of the decline of bilateral donor country funding for housing and slum upgrading.

The paper raises the question of how to generate more demand for housing and slum upgrading on the part of bilateral country donors and from developing countries.

The panel Mr. Shea moderated was Donor Assistance for Housing and Urban Development. In addition to Mr. Shea, panelists included the following individuals:

  • Stephen Karam, senior economist, World Bank
  • Jessica Tulodo, Urban Programs Director, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Robert Dubinsky, Chief Executive Officer, International Housing Coalition

Panelists described trends on funding housing and urban programs in developing countries over the past 20 years. Mr. Karam focused on the World Bank's urban program funding over that time period and the revised urban strategy the Bank is developing for the spring of 2009. Ms. Tulodo described what USAID is now doing with urban programming.

Mr. Shea described the funding trends from both multilateral and bilateral organizations over the past 20 years and made the case for increased funding from bilateral donor countries for more funding for slum upgrading in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Dubinsky described the International Housing Coalition advocacy role and efforts for increasing funding for slum upgrading and housing in developing countries.

For more information:
World Urban Forum [*]


Westat's Exhibit Booth Wins Award at Health Convention

Picture of Westat Staff at APHA Convention Westat's exhibit booth was awarded second place at the American Public Health Association [*] (APHA) 136th Annual Meeting and Expo in the category of commercial single or double booths. Westat's booth and materials displayed our capabilities in public health-related areas both globally and domestically.

The APHA convention, which was held October 25-29, 2008, in San Diego, California, is the largest gathering of public health professionals in the United States and is an important recruiting and marketing opportunity for Westat.

The theme this year was Public Health Without Borders. IDEAS, our partner in several global health ventures, joined us at the booth this year.

Karen Stewart and Dr. Samuel Korper managed the booth with help from Westat staff attending the meeting.

For more information: Contact Westat


Evaluation Conference Features Westat Staff Presentations

Researchers from Westat will be participating as presenters, discussants, panel chairs, and topical interest group leaders in the 2008 annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). The conference, whose theme is Evaluation Policy and Evaluation Practice, will be held in Denver, Colorado, from November 5-8. About 2,500 evaluators are expected to attend.

Westat will be sponsoring an exhibit booth in the AEA exhibit area in the Hyatt Regency Denver's Centennial Ballroom Foyer, on the 3rd level, near the AEA Conference registration area. Westat staff will be available to discuss our experience and qualifications in designing and conducting evaluations.

A list of papers and presentations to which Westat staff (names in bold) contributed follows. For details on the time and location of each presentation, refer to the online program [*].

Susan Azrin. Assuring Fidelity of the Treatment and the Generalizability of Findings in a Study of Mental Health Treatment.

Susan Berkowitz. Fitting Design to Context: The Story of a High Profile National Evaluation.

Brad Chaney and Joan Michie. Supporting Causal Inferences and Generalization When Evaluating Large-Scale, Multi-State, Multi-Level Implementations of an Integrated Instructional Program.

Scott Crosse. Confronting Threats to Validity in a Study of Alcohol Risk Prevention in a National Fraternity.

Janet Friedman. Student Attrition Over Time in a National Evaluation of Head Start Services.

Jennifer Hamilton. The Pros and Cons of a Cluster Randomized Trial.

David Salkever, Mustafa Karakus, William Frey, and Dave Marcotte. Mental Health Treatment Study: Preliminary Evidence on the Demand for Employment Assistance and Supports by SSDI Beneficiaries with Mental Disorders.

Ann Landy. Reconciling Competing Needs: Options for Assessing Environmental Strategy Implementation Fidelity to Address Needs at Federal, State, and Local Levels.

Lance Potter, Rebekah Rhoades, Andrea Piesse, Laura Beebe, and Jennifer Berktold. Incorporating Cellular Telephones into a Random-Digit-Dialed Survey to Evaluate a Media Campaign.

Debra Rog. Strengthening the Sensitivity of Evaluation Designs to Detect Outcomes: The Use of a Technical Review Group in the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity Evaluation.

Debra Rog and Robert Orwin. Fitting the Design to the Context: Using a Collaborative Design Sensitivity Approach to Produce Actionable Evidence.

Gary Silverstein and John Wells. Feasibility of Obtaining Outcome Data from Informal Science Education Projects.

Joe Sonnefeld, Zhiqun Tang, and Duke Owen. Winning One for the GPRA? Making Case-Mix Adjusted Performance Monitoring Data Available to Grantees in CSAT-Funded Substance Abuse Treatment Programs.

Xiaodong Zhang and Atsushi Miyaoka. Getting Into the Black Box: Using Factor Analysis to Measure Implementation.

For more information: Contact Westat


Smithsonian Exhibits Eagle Books, Developed by Westat

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are presenting original illustrations of the Eagle Books. The exhibition opened October 3, 2008, both at the museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City.

The Eagle Books are a four-book series featuring child characters and animal heroes. The books foster awareness about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity for diabetes prevention. At the opening ceremonies, CDC officials and Tribal leaders heralded the book series as a wonderful example of disease prevention through storytelling.

The books were written by Georgia Perez, a community health representative who lives in Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico. The illustrations were done by Patrick Rolo of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe, Wisconsin, and Lisa A. Fifield of the Black Bear Clan of the Oneida Tribe, Wisconsin.

In 2003, the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation engaged Westat to develop diabetes prevention materials for Native children. Working with American Indian artists, Westat managed the development of the Eagle Books. In 2007, CDC contracted Westat to develop an outreach campaign to promote additional uptake of the successful books.

For more information:
Smithsonian press release [*]


REDS-II RFP: Call for Refinement and Evaluation of HIV-1 Blood Donor Screening Tests

For the Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study-II (REDS-II), Westat is seeking proposals from U.S.-based infectious disease test developers/manufacturers for the HIV test development and evaluation component. The contractor will refine, assemble, validate, and obtain Food and Drug Administration approval for an HIV-SELECTEST enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (EIA) kit and a Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test.

Kits will be distributed to national and international laboratories conducting Phase 1 to 3 HIV-1 vaccine trials. They will be used for distinguishing true HIV-1 infections from vaccine-induced HIV-1 antibody responses.

The full RFP and Amendment is posted on this site. The due date for response is December 15, 2008, 3 p.m. EST. One award will be made to a U.S. infectious disease test developer/manufacturer for a period of 3 years. This acquisition has been designated as full and open competition. The term of this contract shall commence upon the effective date and, unless sooner terminated in accordance with the provisions of this contract, shall end on March 22, 2012.

For more information:


How Do Americans Travel Each Day? Westat Collects Data for the National Household Travel Survey

Westat is now collecting data from 148,000 households for the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) 2008 National Household Travel Survey. The survey measures the types and amounts of travel conducted by people in their everyday lives.

DOT, the Administration, Congress, transportation planners, and researchers use the information to perform the following:

  • Assess and forecast travel trends and user needs;
  • Conduct regional transportation and land use planning;
  • Analyze how well the nation's transportation system accommodates demand; and
  • Understand how seasons, fuel prices, the economy, or special programs such as Safe Rides to Schools or congestion-based
  • tolls affect travel.

The 14-month data collection began in March 2008 and will complete interviews with an average of two to three members in each of approximately 148,000 households. The sample also includes an additional 1,250 cell-phone-only households. This part of the survey will examine differences in sample yield, demographics, response rates, and travel characteristics from this growing segment of U.S. households.

Data from eligible participants are collected on each walking, bike, auto, transit, or other trip they make on a travel date assigned each household. Data on household members, worker status and workplace, vehicles, and other demographic characteristics are also gathered.

This year's survey has solved complicated data collection challenges with a number of innovative improvements in computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

  • Geocoding of home, workplace, and trip destination addresses is done on the fly by CATI during the interview, resulting in fewer errors and an extremely high geocoding hit rate.
  • Brief information on each household member's trips is rostered before the respondent is asked to provide trip details. This system helps prevent the underreporting of trips that would occur if all details were asked up front.
  • When multiple members of a household travel together, details from one respondent's trips are automatically coded into the other household member's trip details to improve accuracy and reduce respondent burden.
  • Special systems manage the add-on subsamples and release just the right amount of new work to maintain uniform data collection at targeted levels across the field period.

For more information: Contact Westat


Users of AHRQ's Patient Experience and Patient Safety Culture Surveys Invited to Free Meeting in December

Current and prospective users of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) surveys—the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) and the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS)—are encouraged to attend a free conference on December 3-5, 2008, in Scottsdale, Arizona, to learn more about the instruments and network with fellow survey users.

The meeting is designed for survey users as well as anyone interested in learning about the instruments, associated reporting tools, and efforts to use these surveys to improve patients' experiences and patient safety. Likely attendees include medical directors, safety directors and staff members, clinic and hospital administrators, quality improvement directors and staff, customer service managers, member/patient education managers, marketing directors, and researchers focusing on health care quality and safety.

Highlights of this conference will include:

  • A preconference "CAHPS College" to introduce new users to the CAHPS program, its principles, its products, and the survey development process (afternoon of December 3)
  • Updates on CAHPS surveys, including the CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey, CAHPS Nursing Home Surveys, and the CAHPS Home Health Care Survey
  • A report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the CAHPS Hospital Survey (H-CAHPS)
  • An overview of a new CAHPS database interactive reporting system
  • Results from the Hospital SOPS 2008 Comparative Database
  • Information about the new AHRQ Medical Office and Nursing Home SOPS
  • An update on international SOPS activities
  • Insights into uses of CAHPS and SOPS survey results, including reporting, action planning, and quality and patient safety improvement

This conference is an excellent opportunity to learn from and network with AHRQ staff, members of the CAHPS and SOPS research teams, and fellow survey users.

For more information on this free event and to register: [*]


Public Relations Professionals Honor Two Projects for Excellence in Communication

Two Westat projects have won prestigious national communications awards from the League of American Communication Professionals (LACP) [*] for outstanding annual report writing and/or design work.

Each year LACP recognizes the top annual reports in the world in its Vision Awards competition [*]. This year, LACP received more than 3,000 entries from 21 countries. The awards acknowledge our clients' vision and expertise in developing effective communication tools in collaboration with Westat's project teams of writers, graphic artists, and support staff.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat's New Philadelphia Office Focuses on Pediatric Research

Westat's Health Sector has entered into an agreement with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to operate the CHOP-Westat Biostatistics and Data Management Core (BDMC). The BDMC supports investigators from virtually all subspecialties of pediatric medicine and is currently involved with more than 70 studies, ranging from narrowly defined basic science projects to very large, multisite clinical trials.

Westat is excited about the opportunity to join forces with this premier research institution, and we are confident that our strong reputation in health research, coupled with the abilities of the BDMC staff, will advance these research efforts.

Twenty-three professionals already working at the BDMC have become Westat employees, as part of Vice President Steve Durako's study area. The BDMC staff includes biostatisticians, clinical data analysts, data managers, and others. The Philadelphia-based staff will be augmented by management, technical, and support staff from our Rockville, Houston, and North Carolina offices.

Westat welcomes these new staff members located on the CHOP campus in Philadelphia.

For more information: Contact Westat


Health Marketing Conference Draws Westat Researchers as Presenters

Westat health marketing professionals and health communication researchers will participate as presenters at the Second Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media [*] in Atlanta, Georgia, from August 12-14, 2008.

The conference is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the National Public Health Information Coalition. It will explore how public health professionals can engage with the public and partners to develop and more effectively disseminate health information and interventions to improve the health of individuals and their communities.

A list of materials to which Westat staff (names in bold) will contribute follows.

Stephen Babb (Office on Smoking and Health [OSH], CDC). (Presentation.)
Results of a health communications study that analyzed media coverage of tobacco topics and messaging managed by Lance Potter and Terry Savage for OSH.

Terry Lofton and Shayna Heller. (Poster session.)
Highlighting the success of the Eagle Books series in Native communities; describing plans to debut new books and broaden the reach of diabetes prevention messages through multiple community-level channels (stage plays, museum exhibits, "Talking Circles," powwows, classroom activities, and art workshops).

Lisa Patton and Dianne McElroy. (Poster session.)
Gaps in health marketing campaigns and successful prevention strategies regarding the development and delivery of effective HIV/AIDS prevention messages targeting older adults.

Lance Potter and Jasmin Tiro (NCI). (Presentation.)
Methods used to investigate the influence of a pharmaceutical marketing campaign on local news coverage of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Terry Savage and Maureen Gardner (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). (Poster session.)
Evidence-based strategies for communicating with at-risk drinkers.

Mekkla Thompson. (Presentation.)
Social marketing approach for zinc promotion strategies for childhood diarrhea in diverse populations and communities, highlighting an experience from the Philippines.

For more information: Contact Westat


Medical Expenditure Survey's Household Component Re-Awarded to Westat

Westat was awarded the contract to continue operation of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Household Component for a base year (2009) and 3 option years for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

MEPS is a major national survey that has produced annual estimates of health insurance coverage, health care use and expenditures, and related topics since 1996. Westat has managed the survey since its first collection of data in 1996.

Under the survey's overlapping panel design, Westat will enroll a new panel of 8,000 to 10,000 households each year and administer computer-assisted interviews to the household members 5 times over a 2½-year period. The interviews will collect information on the household members' use of health care services, payments for those services, and a variety of factors that affect the use of health care services.

After data from the household interviews have been matched with information obtained from medical providers (under a separate contract), Westat will process the data and prepare public use files, continuing the sequence of annual data releases.

The data are made available by AHRQ through its MEPS web site [*] and are widely used by public and private researchers. The data are used to study how people in the United States use and pay for health care and how they are affected as the health care system changes over time.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat Researchers Contribute to 2008 Joint Statistical Meetings; Montaquila Named ASA Fellow

Westat researchers will be participating as authors, panelists, discussants, session chairs, and organizers in this year's Joint Statistical Meetings, sponsored by the American Statistical Association (ASA), the International Biometric Society (Eastern and Western North American Regions), the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the Statistical Society of Canada. More than 5,000 statisticians are expected to attend.

Presentations will cover a wide range of topics, including longitudinal surveys, small-area estimation, the role of statisticians in understanding climate change, accuracy of election polls, and methodological issues such as variance estimation, imputation for nonresponse, reducing disclosure risks, improved sample designs, and a variety of other topics. The meeting will be held in Denver, Colorado, from August 3-7, 2008.

In addition to the presentations, Westat Senior Statistician Dr. Jill Montaquila will be named a Fellow of ASA. The honor of Fellow is awarded to one-third of 1 percent of the membership of the ASA each year, based on the individual's contributions and service to the profession.

A list of papers, presentations, and sessions to which Westat staff (names in bold) contributed follows. For details on the time and location of each session, refer to the Joint Statistical Meetings Preliminary Program [*].

Dwight Brock. (Organizer and Chair.) In Remembrance of Paul Minton: Statistician, Educator, and Advocate for Statistics -— Invited — Papers.

Siobhan Carey, Carolyn Shettle, Daniel Mont, and Susan Stobert. (Panelists.) Are Disability Statistics Relevant and Useful for National Policies and Programs?

Lester R. Curtin and Sylvia Dohrmann. When Good Weights Seem Bad: Nuances of Sample Weights in the NHANES.

Sylvia Dohrmann. (Organizer.) Beyond Design: Reaching Out with NHANES Data — Topic Contributed — Papers.

Sylvia Dohrmann. (Chair.) Data-Driven Methods on Survey Data — Topic Contributed — Papers.

Robert E. Fay. The False Discovery Rate in ACS: Helping Users Understand Estimates for Small Domains.

David Ferraro, Tom Krenzke, and Jill Montaquila. Considerations for the Implementation of an RDD Telephone Survey.

Ismael Flores Cervantes. (Chair.) Variance Estimation — Contributed — Papers.

Ismael Flores Cervantes and J. Michael Brick. Empirical Evaluation of Raking Ratio Adjustments for Nonresponse.

Daifeng Han and David Cantor. Cell Phone-Only Households in a National Mail Survey: Who Are They?

Lee Harding, Sylvia Dohrmann, Lin Li, and Lester R. Curtin. Using Digital Imagery to Update the Measures of Size of Area Segments.

Frank Jenkins. Multilevel Modeling in Large-Scale Assessments with Informative Sampling Weights.

Bryce Johnson and Jill Montaquila. Challenges and Methods in Creating Secondary Sampling Units for Area Probability Samples.

Clifford L. Johnson, Leyla Mohadjer, and Lester R. Curtin. National Nutrition Data: Methodological and Analytic Experiences of NHANES.

David R. Judkins. (Organizer and Chair.) Innovative Methods for Imputation — Invited — Papers.

David R. Judkins, Andrea R. Piesse, and Tom Krenzke. Multiple Parametric Imputation.

Graham Kalton. (Discussant.) Robust Methods in Small-Area Estimation — Invited — Papers.

Jeffrey Kerwin and David Cantor. Examining Mode Differences in the Health Information National Trends Survey.

Tom Krenzke. (Organizer.) Reducing Disclosure Risks While Reaching Out to the Data Needs of the Public — Invited — Papers.

Tom Krenzke, Leyla Mohadjer, and Lin Li. Evaluating the Within-Household Selection Procedures for In-Person U.S. Adult Literacy Surveys.

Hyunshik Lee. (Chair.) Which Way to Weight? Bias vs. Variance — Contributed — Papers.

Hyunshik Lee and Tom Munk. Power Analysis for the Regression Discontinuity Design.

Sunghee Lee, Tom Belin, Christopher Pankonin, J. Michael Brick, and Jennifer Edgar. Responsive Design for Random Digit Dial Surveys Using Auxiliary Survey Process Data and Contextual Data.

Lin Li, Annie Lo, Greg Norman, and Hyunshik Lee. Imputation of Missing Data for the Pre-Elementary Education Longitudinal Survey.

Tiandong Li and Robert Mislevy. Multiple Imputation for Latent Variables in Classical Test Theory for Cluster Samples: A Simulation Study.

David A. Marker. (Organizer.) Accurate Elections: The Role of Statisticians — Invited — Papers.

David A. Marker. The ASA-Sponsored Workshop on Climate Change.

David A. Marker. (Organizer and Chair.) Late-Breaking Session I: The Accuracy of Election Polls.

Leyla Mohadjer, Robert E. Fay, and Lester R. Curtin. Producing Local Area Estimates for NHANES.

Jill Montaquila. (Chair.) Imputation for Item Nonresponse — Contributed — Papers.

David Morganstein. (Chair.) Improving Survey Quality Reinterviews, Paradata, and Comprehension — Contributed — Papers.

Andrea R. Piesse, Randy Sitter, and X. C. Feng. Using the SIMEX Method to Estimate Temporal Change for a High-Scoring Group.

B. Rey de Castro. (Chair.) Models for Longitudinal Data — Contributed — Papers.

John W. Rogers. Imputation of Nondetects in Environmental Concentration Measurements.

Gary Shapiro. (Chair.) Statistics Can Help Reduce Child Mortality — Invited — Papers.

Wendy VanDeKerckhove, Jill Montaquila, and J. Michael Brick. Using a Large-Scale Field Study to Estimate Nonresponse and Noncoverage Biases in an RDD Survey.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat Staff to Participate in AIDS 2008 Conference

Westat researchers will be making a variety of presentations at the XVII International AIDS Conference [*] (AIDS 2008) in Mexico City, August 3-8, 2008. The theme of this year's conference is Universal Action Now. Westat staff (names in bold) will be contributing as follows:

Karen M. Megazzini, Namwinga Chintu, Sten H. Vermund, David T. Redden, Daniel W. Krebs, Maureen Simwenda, Bushimbwa Tambatamba, Moses Sinkala, and Jeffrey S.A. Stringer. (Poster.) Predictors of Rapid HIV Testing Acceptance and Successful Nevirapine Administration in Zambian Labor Wards. (Completed by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia.)

Karen M. Megazzini, Moses Sinkala, Sten H. Vermund, David T. Redden, Daniel W. Krebs, Edward P. Acosta, Joyse Mwanza, Robert L. Goldenberg, Namwinga Chintu, and Jeffrey S.A. Stringer. (Presentation.) A Cluster-Randomized Trial of Enhanced Labor Ward-Based PMTCT Services to Increase Population Nevirapine Coverage in Lusaka, Zambia. (Completed by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia.)

Moussa Sarr, Birahim P. Ndiaye, Hugues Loemba, and Mwenda Yasa. Overall and Diarrhea- or Lower Respiratory Infections-Related Mortality Among Formula-Fed and Breast-Fed Children of HIV1-Infected Women in Africa: A Meta-Analysis.

Be sure to check the full program of events [*] for more specific information on the various presentations and sessions that will be held during this conference.

For more information: Contact Westat


Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Honored with 2008 Policy Impact Award

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has given its 2008 Policy Impact Award to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The presentation was made at the AAPOR Annual Conference in New Orleans, May 15-18.

The award recognizes AHRQ's extraordinary, long-term group effort in contributing timely data and research that has informed U.S. health care policy decisions. Key collaborators to the MEPS program include the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of the Census, and Westat.

MEPS has collected detailed information about the use and payment for health care services from a nationally representative sample of Americans for 2 decades. The research program includes health care data collection, development, and research, and the translation of research into practice with the goal of identifying strategies to improve access, foster appropriate use, and reduce unnecessary expenditures. Few other surveys provide the foundation for estimating the effect health care changes have on different economic groups and special populations, such as the poor, elderly, veterans, uninsured, and racial and ethnic groups.

In the past several years, MEPS data and associated research findings have quickly become a linchpin for the Nation's economic models and their projections of health care expenditures and utilization. MEPS data have been used in hundreds of scientific publications and many more unpublished reports. MEPS findings have been used by many Federal agencies to inform congressional policy decisions, and in the public and private sectors to help develop economic projections.

For example, MEPS research findings have been used extensively by the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Department of Treasury, Joint Taxation Committee, and U.S. Department of Labor to inform congressional inquires related to health care expenditures, insurance coverage, and sources of payment, and to analyze potential tax and other implications of Federal health insurance policies. MEPS is also used to develop estimates provided in the Consumers' CHECKBOOK Guide to Health Plans of expected out-of-pocket costs (premiums, deductibles, and copays) for Federal employees and retirees for their health care.

For more information: Contact Westat [*]


Westat Staff Participate in 63rd Annual Public Opinion Research Conference

Researchers from Westat recently participated as authors, session chairs, and discussants at the 2008 conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in New Orleans, Louisiana, held May 15-18, 2008. This year's theme was Polls for the Public Good with a special plenary session co-sponsored with Tulane University focusing on the role survey research can play in facilitating policy decisions that work best for the public good.

Presentations covered a wide range of topics, including surveying cell phones, health surveys, questionnaire design, issues in nonresponse, mode effects, and many more methodological issues. Over the summer Westat staff who attended this year's AAPOR conference will be presenting papers of interest at upcoming brown-bag seminars.

A list of papers and presentations to which Westat staff (names in bold) contributed follows.

David Kashihara and Diana Wobus. Household Medical Expenditure Data: A Comprehensive Report of the Completeness and Accuracy of Survey Responses.

David M. Grant, Sunghee Lee, J. Michael Brick, Royce J. Park, and W. Sherman Edwards. Design and Implementation of an Area Probability Sample to Explore Nonresponse Bias in an RDD Survey.

Wendy Hicks, Brad Edwards, Karen Tourangeau, Lauren Harris-Kojetin, Abigail Moss, and Brett McBride. CARI: A Tool for Improving Data Quality Now and the Next Time.

Ryan A. Hubbard. Putting a Profile of Asset Value Nonresponse to Work.

Sunghee Lee, David M. Grant, Royce J. Park, and J. Michael Brick. Use of an Area Probability Sample Survey to Explore Nonresponse and Noncoverage Bias in an RDD Survey.

David Cantor and Daifeng Han. Comparing a National Mail Survey to a Random Digit Dial Survey for the Health Information National Trends Survey.

Mary Hagedorn, Wendy Van De Kerckhove, Priscilla Carver, J. Michael Brick, and Jill M. Montaquila. Design and Implementation of an In-field Follow-up Study to Evaluate Bias in an RDD Survey.

Wendy Van de Kerckhove, Jill M. Montaquila, and J. Michael Brick. Bias Estimation and Findings from an In-Field Follow-up Study Designed to Evaluate Bias in an RDD study.

W. Sherman Edwards, J. Michael Brick, and David Grant. Relative Costs of a Multi-frame, Multi-mode Enhancement to an RDD Survey.

Dale W. Kulp, J. Michael Brick, and Mansour Fahimi. Biases in RDD Sampling: A 21st Century Digital World Reassessment.

J. Michael Brick, W. Sherman Edwards, and Sunghee Lee. Sampling & Weighting Cell Phone Samples to Supplement RDD Surveys.

Martha S. Kudela, Kerry Levin, Debra Stark, Gordon Willis, Salma Shariff-Marco, and Nancy Breen. Does Behavior Coding Help Determine Which Questionnaire Version is Best?

W. Sherman Edwards, Sid Schneider, Suzie Burke-Bebee, Ritu Agarwal, Corey M. Angst, and Daniel Sangria. Measuring the Adoption of Health Information Technology in the United States: Bringing Consistency to Survey Approaches.

For more information: Contact Westat


ECLS-K Re-Awarded to Westat to Continue Work on Landmark Study

The National Center for Education Statistics has awarded the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten Cohort of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:11) to Westat.

The ECLS-K:11 involves contacting 900 public and private schools in order to follow 21,000 children, selected when they were in kindergarten, through the fifth grade. In the base year alone, 2010-11, two data collections will be conducted, each with the children, parents, and teachers/administrators, in the fall and the spring. Westat and its team will design the study, collect and process the data, as well as provide analyses.

ECLS-K:11 is the third in a series of longitudinal studies sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. It shares many of the goals of its predecessors, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K:98), and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort of 2001 (ECLS-B), but also advances research possibilities.

The ECLS-K:11 will provide important information on children's early learning and development, transitions into kindergarten and beyond, and progress through school. It will provide data relevant to emerging policy-related domains not measured fully in previous studies.

Coming more than a decade after the ECLS-K:98, it will allow cross-cohort comparisons of two nationally representative kindergarten classes that faced different policy, educational, and demographic environments.

For more information: Contact Westat


New Web Site on Health Care Innovation from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has launched the Health Care Innovations Exchange [*], a new Web resource developed by Westat. The Innovations Exchange enables users to share and discover innovations in the delivery of health services. It is also designed to facilitate networking and learning about the process of innovating and adopting the innovations of others. According to Mary Nix, project officer for the initiative, the Agency aims to make this site an important tool for health care leaders, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who seek to reduce health care disparities and improve health care overall.

The AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange is also the new home of the Agency's QualityTools initiative, which pulls together hundreds of publicly available tools useful for understanding, evaluating, and improving the quality of care.

"We're very proud and excited to be a part of this critical Government-sponsored initiative to support the spread of innovations in the health care field," commented Dr. Veronica Nieva, Westat's project director for the Innovations Exchange. "The public and private sector have always invested a great deal of money and time in spreading clinical innovations, such as new pharmaceuticals and technologies. This project represents a much-needed effort to put the same kind of energy and attention into innovations in the delivery of health care, which traditionally does not get the same kind of attention but affects all of us."

The web site was launched with searchable descriptions of 100 innovations—mostly successful ones but also some that were not found to be effective. All readers are invited to share comments on their experiences with these and similar innovations. Westat is also working with experts in the health care field to develop critiques and commentary on specific innovation. By making this kind of information widely available, AHRQ and its contractors seek to support health care organizations in learning from one another and building on each other's successes. The site will be updated every 2 weeks with new innovations and QualityTools.

The AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange also offers various opportunities for learning from experts in innovation and networking with fellow innovators and innovation adopters. In addition to articles on various topics, users of the Innovations Exchange will have access to topic-specific discussion groups, webcasts, and learning networks facilitated by Westat staff.

Westat continues to seek submissions of potential health care innovations from the health care community. AHRQ is particularly interested in innovations that help reduce health disparities in populations of interest to the Agency, including low-income groups, minority groups, women, children, the elderly, and individuals with special health care needs.

Westat produced the Innovations Exchange under contract with AHRQ and in partnership with Silverchair, Business Intelligence, the Severyn Group, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

For more information: Contact Westat


Dr. Robert E. Fay Joins Westat's Statistical Group

Dr. Robert E. Fay has joined Westat's Statistical Group. He joined Westat after a 34-year career with the U.S. Census Bureau. After working in the Statistical Research and Statistical Methods Divisions, Dr. Fay completed his career at the Census Bureau as the Senior Mathematical Statistician.

As a senior statistician here at Westat, Dr. Fay will spend his time on a variety of projects in a number of capacities, including providing technical expertise, serving as a team member on major projects, and writing proposals. He will also help design surveys and work on statistical modeling and application. Dr. Fay has a strong interest in health and education issues and looks forward to pursuing statistical work in those fields of research.

Dr. Fay is particularly interested in working with the next generation of statisticians. "I am motivated to help mentor younger statisticians. The whole field depends on the next generation," he explained. "I look forward to working closely with them."

Dr. Fay will also continue pursuing a number of other statistical interests outside of Westat. Since 1978, Dr. Fay has regularly acted as consultant to major television networks for election night coverage, providing predictions and other analyses. He is currently a CNN consultant during this busy election season.

Dr. Fay has worked with a number of notable statisticians on election night results: "I worked with Joe Waksberg at CBS News on election night coverage years ago. He was as his reputation," noting that it was an honor to work with Mr. Waksberg, former Westat Chairman of the Board and Senior Vice President.

Dr. Fay will also continue to serve as a frequent peer reviewer for Science and has served in that role for a number of other journals, including the Journal of the American Statistical Association, the American Statistician, International Statistical Review, and others. He has also served as proposal reviewer to the National Science Foundation and UNICEF.

While at the Census Bureau, Dr. Fay earned a number of awards, including the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medal Awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and three times the Secretary's Exceptional Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2005 he earned the Roger Herriot Award for Innovation in Federal Statistics from the American Statistical Association (ASA).

Dr. Fay is Fellow of ASA and a member of several other professional societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, Washington Academy of Sciences, and the Washington Statistical Society.

We are honored to have Dr. Fay as a member of our team and welcome him to Westat.

For more information: Contact Westat


Health Web Sites Developed by Westat Win Awards

The Health Information Resource Center (HIRC), a national clearinghouse for consumer health information programs and materials, organizes the semi-annual World Wide Web (WWW) Health Awards. This Web-based health awards program is an extension of the HIRC's 14-year old National Health Information Awards (NHIA), the largest program of its kind in the United States. Westat projects received four awards in the Fall/Winter 2007 competition.

  • See All You Can See Web Site

  • This National Eye Institute (NEI) web site was designed to help teach children about the importance of taking care of their eyes.

Award: Gold
Class: Advertising/Marketing Information
Division: Government
Audience: Children 0-12 years and/or parents

  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Web Site

  • NCCAM is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine. Its mission is to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, train complementary and alternative medicine researchers, and disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals.

Award: Merit
Class: Patient Education Information
Division: Government
Audience: Other Allied Professionals

Award: Merit
Class: Patient Education Information
Division: Government
Audience: MDs/PhDs/RNs

Award: Merit
Class: Patient Education Information
Division: Government
Audience: All Adults 21+ years

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat Staff Participate in Educational Research Annual Meeting

Westat researchers participated in this year's American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, discussing a wide range of topics, including special education, science instruction, teacher training, mentoring, and analysis of large-scale assessments, among others. The meeting was held in New York City from March 24-28, 2008, with more than 14,000 in attendance. A list of papers and presentations to which Westat staff (names in bold) contributed follows.

Janis Brown, Robert C. Perkins Jr., and Stephen Roey. Defining Special Education Students: Masking the Achievements of Students with Disabilities in the NAEP High School Transcript Study.

Tamara Cohen Daley and Elaine Carlson. Predicting Change in Eligibility Status Among Preschoolers in Special Education.

Gavin Fulmer. Successes and Setbacks in Collaboration for Conceptual Science Instruction: Relating Changing Teacher Practices to Contextual Pressures and Student Learning Outcomes.

Jennifer Hamilton and Cathy Lease. Impact of Training on Teacher Attitude. Roundtable discussion.

Frank Jenkins. Multilevel Modeling of Large-Scale Assessments with Deleted Levels and Informative Weights.

Craig Love, Elmima Johnson, and Tamara Bertrand. Mentoring in Evaluation: Establishing the Foundation.

Kimberley Raue, Gary Silverstein, Glenn Nyre, and Keith MacAllum. Involving Informal Science Institutions in K-12 STEM Reform: Case Study Findings.

Kathryn Schiller, Janis Brown, Stephen Roey William Schmidt, and Chandra Miller. Course Inflation: Measuring Mathematics Curriculum Exposure.

Denise St. Clair, Harriotte Heinzen, Frank Jenkins, and Elaine Carlson. Defining Risk for Preschoolers with Disabilities and Predicting Educational Performance.

Barbara Williams. Career Opportunities to Conduct Educational Research Influencing National Policy Decisions and Constructing Research Agendas. Roundtable discussion.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat to Exhibit at Several 2008 Health-Related Conferences/Job Fairs

Westat will be exhibiting at several health-related conferences and job fairs this year. Representatives will be on hand to speak with prospective clients and staff. See the following list for conferences, dates, and sites.

Partnerships with CROs
When: April 14-16, 2008
Where: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
Booth number: 405 [*]

BioCapital Career Fair
When: April 17, 2008
Where: Bethesda Marriott, Bethesda, Maryland
Booth number: Westat [*]

Society for International Development (SID) Washington 2008 Annual Career Fair
When: May 7, 2008
Where: Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Booth number: Westat [*]

Society for Clinical Trials 29th Annual Meeting
When: May 18-21, 2008
Where: Hyatt Regency St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Booth number: 100 [*]

Global Health Council International Conference
When: May 27- 31, 2008
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC
Booth number: 304 [*]

American Public Health Association (APHA) 2008 Annual Meeting and Expo
When: October 25-29, 2008
Where: San Diego, California
Booth number: 1530 [*]

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat Staff Share Expertise at SAS Global Forum 2008

Westat's programming staff provided their expertise at the SAS Global Forum 2008, from March 16-19, in San Antonio, Texas. The SAS Global Forum conference, known as the premier source of news and ideas for SAS software users, drew about 3,800 attendees for 3 days of technical presentations on SAS software programming techniques and use.

Westat staff members Stuart Long and Michael A. Raithel were invited to present SAS technical papers. In addition, Rachel Brown, Jennifer Fulton, Edward Heaton, Sigurd Hermansen, Stanley Legum, Stuart Long, and Michael A. Raithel all presented contributed papers. Altogether, Westat staff presented 9 SAS technical papers at the conference. Over the last 12 years, Westat staff have presented more than 170 technical papers at SAS conferences.

Duke Owen, Conference Executive Board member, and Rick Mitchell, Conference Section Chair, served organizational roles in the conference.

The list of papers presented by Westat staff and co-authors follows (Westat staff names in bold).

Rachel Brown and Jennifer Fulton. CSI: San Antonio - Common SAS Issues in Our Programs and Tips for Better Investigation of Your SAS Code.

Edward Heaton. Many-to-Many Merges in the Data Step.

Sigurd Hermansen. Evaluating Predictive Models: Computing and Interpreting the c Statistic.

Sigurd Hermansen (co-authors Himanshi Singh and Laura Hrycyk). SAS Scripting of a Production Database into an Open Test Environment.

Stanley Legum (co-author Sigurd Hermansen). Existential Moments in SAS Programming: SAS PROC SQL EXISTS and NOT EXISTS Quantifiers, and More.

Stuart Long (co-authors Jeffrey Abolafia and Lawrence Park). Adventures in ODS: Producing Customized Reports Using Output from Multiple SAS Procedures.

Stuart Long and Edward Heaton. Using the SAS DATA Step and PROC SQL to Create Macro Arrays.

Michael A. Raithel. Powering Your Organization's Web Applications with SAS Software.

Michael A. Raithel. Supporting SAS in a Research Environment.

For more information: Contact Westat


Dr. Edward C. Bryant's Career Commemorated

The career of Dr. Edward C. Bryant, a Westat founder and statistician, was commemorated on March 13, 2008. Dr. Bryant was the former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, and trustee of Westat's Employee Stock Ownership Plan. He died in January at the age of 92.

The audience included several of Dr. Bryant's family members, including his wife Virginia (Ginny) Bryant, and two granddaughters, Nina Bryant Freeman and Katie Kirkpatrick. Many Westat alumni attended the tribute, including James M. Daley and Donald W. King (co-founders of Westat), Doris Northup, Matt Lee, Stephen K. Dietz, and Carla E. Maffeo, plus nearly 200 current senior and junior staff.

The invited speakers included many from his career. All of their comments shared a common thread: an appreciation for Dr. Bryant's sense of humor, integrity, honesty, dedication, and generosity of spirit.

David R. Morganstein, Westat Vice President, spoke of Dr. Bryant's ease and ability in mentoring younger staff through their careers and how he left them feeling inspired, encouraged, and appreciated. Senior Statisticians Dr. Keith F. Rust and Dr. Richard L. Valliant talked about how Dr. Bryant was not only a mentor and colleague but also a neighbor and family friend. "He was a true gentleman; we will always value him," said Dr. Rust. Dr. Valliant added that Dr. Bryant and his wife "taught us what the lives of genuinely good people could be like," and that he was everlasting grateful to him for that experience.

Nancy W. Caldwell and Debra S. Vivari, Westat Vice Presidents, spoke from a project staff perspective about how Dr. Bryant treated colleagues like family and how he valued and appreciated the opinions of all staff.

Donald King, one of Dr. Bryant's partners in starting Westat, discussed Dr. Bryant's role as an educator and reminisced on his love for writing and instructing others in the field of statistics. Doris Northrup remarked on how Dr. Bryant reminded us that big things can come from humble beginnings. Thomas W. McKenna, Westat's Executive Vice President, discussed the many professional accomplishments of Dr. Bryant and noted that his unique business sense and aggressive decisions were critical contributions to earning key contracts early in our history.

Joseph A. Hunt, President of Westat, concluded the tribute, remarking on Dr. Bryant's valued leadership. "His ability to assemble and retain a talented and effective staff enabled our company to grow and prosper," noted Mr. Hunt. "His commitment and resolve made possible our return to employee ownership with its broad-based benefits shared throughout our company. Most important, his integrity and emphasis on quality remain the foundation of our corporate culture."

We at Westat feel a deep sense of loss with Dr. Bryant's passing. He was a valued colleague, mentor, and friend.

For more information: Contact Westat


Technical Communication Awards Go to Five Westat Products

The Society for Technical Communicators (STC) recognized five Westat products in its Distinguished Technical Communications 2007-08 Competition, [*] one for Best of Show and four others for Awards of Merit. The products were commended for applying the principles of technical communication in outstanding ways, particularly in how they anticipate and fulfill the needs of their audience.

Westat's video, Gaining Cooperation: Contact, Connect, Convince, was selected as Best of Show in the Online Communications Category. The video is part of the new package of basic interviewer training materials for Westat data collectors. Westat's Field Training Committee and Graphics Department collaborated to create this interactive video training program.

Four other Westat projects received Awards of Merit:

S. Cool Deyda in YRBS Selecting Classes Online Category

This short training program uses a combination of character and form animations to create a refresher training program for school staff who must select samples for the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Poster Series: National Cancer Institute (NCI) Technical Art Category

Nearly 30 posters were created for various NCI-related meetings throughout North America. Graphic artists worked with individual clients to create a unique identity for each meeting that could be used in supplemental materials, such as handouts, CDs, and name tags.

2007 Westat Calendar Technical Art Category

The 2007 Westat Calendar is a company-wide collaboration, produced under the direction of the Westat Human Resources Department for use by field staff. Each year all staff are invited to submit photographs around a theme. "Motion," the 2007 theme, had compelling images, which were combined with bright colors and calendar features to create an attractive, functional product.

Basic and Biobehavioral Research Branch Report: National Cancer Institute's Board of Scientific Advisors Technical Publications Category

This 97-page report summarizes the findings of leading cancer biology scientists and researchers. Westat's content and design experts combined the information with supporting images and graphs.

For more information: Contact Westat


National Eye Institute Continues Westat's Support of Communication and Response Activities

Westat will continue to support the public communication and inquiry response activities of the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute (NEI). Westat provides health information in response to thousands of inquiries from the public each month; administers a cost recovery program; ships millions of NEI publications from a distribution center in Frederick, Maryland; and develops, maintains, and hosts NEI's public web site [*].

NEI conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. This research leads to sight-saving treatments, reduces visual impairment and blindness, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages.

For more information: Contact Westat


Dr. Edward C. Bryant, Statistician and a Westat Founder: 1915-2008

Dr. Edward C. Bryant, statistician and a founder of Westat, died January 17, 2008, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He was 92.

Dr. Bryant established Westat in 1963 while on the faculty of the University of Wyoming. In 1966, he moved the employee-owned company to Montgomery County, Maryland, where it is headquartered in Rockville.

Westat has grown into one of the leading survey and statistical research organizations in the United States and one of the largest employers in Montgomery County.

Dr. Bryant served as President and Chairman of Westat's Board of Directors. He was serving as trustee of Westat's Employee Stock Ownership Plan at the time of his death.

Dr. Bryant earned a master's degree from the University of Wyoming and a doctorate in mathematical statistics from Iowa State University. He published numerous professional papers and a widely used textbook, Statistical Analysis. Dr. Bryant was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of many other professional societies.

In 1995, a scholarship [*] was established in his name by Westat and is awarded annually to a talented graduate student in statistics under an agreement with ASA.

Dr. Bryant is survived by his wife of 66 years, Virginia (Ginny) DeGering Bryant, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. His son, Eddie Bryant, his daughter, Bonnie Kirkpatrick, and a granddaughter preceded him in death.

Dr. Bryant was a man with incredible talent and generosity throughout his life, giving to his family, to Westat, and to the statistical profession in general. He will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know him and work with him.

A commemoration of Dr. Bryant's contributions to Westat is planned. Details will be announced at a later date.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat will provide user-centered design, development, and maintenance services for two high-profile National Institutes of Health (NIH) web sites: the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) web site [*] and the NIH Stem Cell Information web site [*].

Project staff have plans to design and develop two web sites, one to promote awareness of Usher syndrome and the other aimed at preventing noise-induced hearing loss. Westat will also enhance and maintain NIDCD's intranet and advisory council web sites. For all sites, Westat will be responsible for HTML maintenance, graphic design, usability testing and implementing recommendations, compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and search engine optimization.

For more information: Contact Westat


Westat to Evaluate Initiatives of New York City's Anti-Poverty Programs

Westat is partnering with Metis Associates to evaluate initiatives of the Center for Economic Opportunity, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's effort to move economically disadvantaged New Yorkers out of poverty. The initiatives are focused on young adults, poor working adults, and families with young children.

The Westat team will examine approximately 35 programs to determine which can best be evaluated, develop an evaluation design, and work with the selected programs to systematically collect information for evaluating impact, program implementation, and cost-benefit.

For more information: Contact Westat

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