News Archives 2010

December 2010

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January 2010


Westat Announces Succession Plan

Westat announced today that Joseph A. Hunt, President and CEO of Westat, will be succeeded in that position by James E. Smith, Ph.D., a Westat Senior Vice President, at the company's May, 2011, annual meeting. Dr. Smith has been an officer and director of Westat for many years and currently directs its large project IT staff and corporate IT capabilities. Mr. Hunt will continue with an active role in the company as a corporate officer and Vice Chairman of the Board. Mr. Hunt, who has served as company President for 32 years, expressed his gratitude to the "many officers, managers, and staff of Westat who have made this company successful," and his confidence that Dr. Smith "will be an effective head of our employee-owned research organization going forward." Dr. Smith said that Mr. Hunt is an "extraordinary leader who has led the company through decades of growth and whose continuing contribution is welcomed as we carry on serving our clients in the most effective ways possible."


From Table to Tabulation in 24 Hours, NCI Recognizes a Revolutionary Dietary Research Tool

ASA24 Development Team members on hand to receive award: (left to right) Susie McNutt (Westat), Thea Zimmerman (Westat), Gordon Willis (NCI), Christopher Bingley (Westat), Beth Mittl (Westat), Fran Thompson (NCI), Amy Subar (NCI), Sharon Kirkpatrick (NCI), Nancy Potischman (NCI), and NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus. ASA24 Development Team members on hand to receive award: (left to right) Susie McNutt (Westat), Thea Zimmerman (Westat), Gordon Willis (NCI), Christopher Bingley (Westat), Beth Mittl (Westat), Fran Thompson (NCI), Amy Subar (NCI), Sharon Kirkpatrick (NCI), Nancy Potischman (NCI), and NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus.
The ASA24 Development Team received recognition for its work at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director's Awards Ceremony [*] on November 4, 2010. The team is a partnership of NCI and Westat researchers. On hand to accept the award for the team from Westat were Susie McNutt, Beth Mittl, Christopher Bingley, and Thea Zimmerman. NCI's Director Harold Varmus, MD, acknowledged the team's work for "revolutionizing dietary assessment research through the development of the automated self-administered 24-hour recall."

The ASA24 is an online data collection instrument that allows a respondent to self-report his or her food intake in the past 24 hours. The application automatically assigns a food code to every reported food. This feature offers significant cost savings for processing dietary data. It also makes data collection available to large cohort studies as well as researchers who otherwise could not afford to collect dietary data.

Susie McNutt is the project director for the contract under which ASA24 is being developed. Other Westat team members include two groups:

  • Systems staff led by Beth Mittl: Christopher Bingley, Yiling Chen, Therese Divita, Hanh Hernandez, Jamie Jao, Dalia Kahane, Svetlana Rabinovich, Leon Tiet, Sri Venkatesh, Sean Xie, and Junaid Yusuf.
  • Nutrition content staff led by Thea Zimmerman: Joan Benson, Deirdre Douglass, and Viji Narayanaswamy.

Each year at this awards ceremony the NCI Director recognizes the outstanding contributions of colleagues that aid in the continued advancement of the progress in cancer detection, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and survivorship.

For more information:
Contact Westat


2010 Waksberg Award Winner: Ivan P. Fellegi, Ph.D.

Ivan P. Fellegi, Ph.D., (left) receives the 2010 Waksberg Award from Leyla Mohadjer, Ph.D., as the 2005 Waksberg Award recipient and Chair of the award session J.N.K. Rao, Professor Emeritus, Carleton University, Canada, (right) looks on. Ivan P. Fellegi, Ph.D., (left) receives the 2010 Waksberg Award from Leyla Mohadjer, Ph.D., as the 2005 Waksberg Award recipient and Chair of the award session J.N.K. Rao, Professor Emeritus, Carleton University, Canada, (right) looks on.
The winner of the 2010 Waksberg Award is Ivan P. Fellegi, Ph.D., Canada's Chief Statistician Emeritus. Leyla Mohadjer, Ph.D., a Vice President and an Associate Director of the Statistical Staff of Westat, and the Chair of the 2010 Waksberg Award Committee, presented the award to Dr. Fellegi at the Statistics Canada Symposium, October 26-29, 2010, in Ottawa, Canada.

Dr. Fellegi became Chief Statistician Emeritus following his retirement from Statistics Canada in 2008. In 1985, he was appointed chief statistician of Canada after having held several key positions at Statistics Canada. As its leader, he guided the organization to a position of prominence. Dr. Fellegi has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work. He has been president of a number of statistical bodies, including the International Statistical Institute, the International Association of Survey Statisticians, and the Statistical Society of Canada.

The journal Survey Methodology established this award in honor of Joseph Waksberg, former Westat Senior Vice President and Chairman of the Board, to recognize his contributions to survey methodology.

Each year a prominent survey statistician is chosen by a four-person committee, which is appointed by Survey Methodology and the American Statistical Association. The winner is invited to prepare a paper that reviews the development and current state of an important topic in the field of survey methodology. The paper reflects the mixture of theory and practice that characterized Mr. Waksberg's work.

The 2009 award winner was Graham Kalton, Ph.D., Westat's Senior Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Previous winners of the award are as follows:

  • Mary Thompson, Ph.D. (2008)
  • Carl-Erik Sïärndal, Ph.D. (2007)
  • Alastair Scott, Ph.D. (2006)
  • J.N.K. Rao, Ph.D. (2005)
  • Norman Bradburn, Ph.D. (2004)
  • Tim Holt, Ph.D. (2003)
  • Wayne Fuller, Ph.D. (2002)
  • Gad Nathan, Ph.D. (2001)

For more information:
Contact Westat


Westat Gets the Gold for Government Web Site, Other Efforts Also Honored

A Westat project, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) web site [*], has been honored with a Gold Award, Government Web Site from the 2010 Web Health AwardsSM. The NCCAM web site was the sole Gold Award winner in the Government Division. This site provides timely, evidence-based information on health conditions and complementary and alternative treatments for consumers, health professionals, and scientists.

Westat projects received four additional awards:

  • Silver Award, Government Web Site: National Eye Institute (NEI) web site [*]. The NEI web site offers research-based patient information on eye diseases, eye anatomy, and clinical trials for vision health.
  • Bronze Award, Government Web Site: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) web site [*]. The NIDCD web site provides consumer-friendly scientific information about disorders of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.
  • Merit Award, Government E-newsletter: Eye on NEI [*]. The NEI's monthly online news magazine features stories such as vision research projects and interviews with scientists.
  • Merit Award, Government E-newsletter: Inside NIDCD [*]. NIDCD's quarterly online newsletter includes articles about research projects and public campaigns to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.

Nearly 500 entries were submitted in the 2010 Web Health Awards and winners [*] were announced November 5. Overall, 28 entries received a Gold Award. Entries were evaluated for content, design, creativity, and user experience.

Now in its 12th year, the goal of the Web Health Awards (formerly the World Wide Web Health Awards) is to recognize high-quality electronic health information. The awards program is organized by the Health Information Resource CenterTM, a national clearinghouse for professionals who work in consumer health fields.

For more information:
Contact Westat


AHRQ Health Care Web Site on Top 10 Lists for Customer Satisfaction

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Care Innovations Exchange web site [*] was ranked 10th out of 113 Federal web sites and 5th out of 65 news/information web sites by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Westat operates and maintains the Innovations Exchange web site in conjunction with Silverchair.

The Innovations Exchange is a comprehensive program designed to accelerate the development and adoption of innovations in health care delivery. The site has more than 37,000 subscribers and receives more than 100,000 visits per month. The web site:

  • Provides evidence-based information about innovative strategies and quality-related tools;
  • Educates users on how to improve their organization's ability to adopt new ideas; and
  • Facilitates interaction between users, innovators, and adopters.

The ACSI E-Government Satisfaction Index evaluates both online and offline Federal Government departments and agencies. The Federal Government uses ACSI as a standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction.

For more information:
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Study Finds CT Scans Reduce Cancer Deaths by 20%; Westat Served as Coordinating Center

Initial results [*] of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) large-scale National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) have been released, finding CT scans detecting cancers at relatively early stages, thus reducing deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent.

The NLST was a collaborative effort of NCI and the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN). Two component studies compose the NLST: the Lung Screening Study (LSS), a special study of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial; and a trial conducted under an NCI-funded grant to ACRIN. Westat served as the coordinating and data center for the LSS component of the trial. The results have received international media attention.

The NLST is a randomized trial involving more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 at 33 screening sites. The trial has compared the effects of two screening procedures for lung cancer—low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) and standard chest X-ray—on lung cancer mortality. The study found 20 percent fewer lung cancer deaths among trial participants screened with low-dose helical CT.

The NCI's decision to announce the initial findings from the NLST was made after the trial's independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board notified the NCI director that the accumulated data now provide a statistically convincing answer to the study's primary question and that the trial should, therefore, be stopped.

A description of the study design was published in Radiology [*] on November 4, 2010. A fuller analysis, with more detailed results, will be prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal within the next few months.

Brenda Brewer, the Westat project director of NLST, said that she and the other Westat NLST staff are proud to have played a role in this landmark research study.

For more information:
Contact Westat


AEA Conference Features Westat Staff Presentations

Researchers from Westat will be participating as presenters, discussants, panel chairs, and topical interest group leaders in the 2010 annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) [*]. The conference, whose theme is Evaluation Quality, will be held in San Antonio, Texas, from November 10-13.

Westat is a conference sponsor and will be hosting an exhibit booth in the AEA exhibit area at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. 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 [*].

David Bernstein. A Pragmatic Approach to Ensuring Quality in County Government Evaluation.

David Bernstein. How Has Government Evaluation Changed in the Last Twenty Years?

Carol Hagen, Scott Crosse, and Michele Harmon (with Samantha Leaf and Rebekah Hersch). The Methodological Quality of Evaluation Research on School-Based Prevention Programs: Where Are We Now?

Jennifer Hamilton. Striving Readers: Results From Newark.

Kathryn Henderson, Debra Rog, and Jennifer Hamilton. Rigorous Evaluation and City Government: Examples From New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity.

Mustafa Karakus. Economic Analyses in Program Evaluation: First Approximations When Economists Are Late on the Scene.

Ann Landy and Elisabeth Cook. A Process for Assessing Implementation Fidelity for Substance Abuse Prevention Environmental Change Strategies.

Garrett Moran, Debra Rog, and Joshua Noda. Using Blended Methods and Prospective Meta-Analytic Approach to Strengthen a Multisite Evaluation.

Robert Orwin and Ann Landy (with Alan Stein-Seroussi and Jessica Edwards). Effects of the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentives Grant (SPFSIG) on State Prevention Infrastructure in Twenty-Six States.

Debra Rog. Mixed-Methods Evaluation Design for a Complex, Evolving Systems Initiative.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Public Health Meeting Includes Westat Staff in Key Roles

Westat staff will be participating in this year's American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Exposition [*] in a variety of levels. The meeting will be held in Denver, Colorado, from November 6-10, 2010. More than 13,000 national and international physicians, administrators, nurses, educators, researchers, epidemiologists, and related health specialists are expected to attend.

The theme for this year's meeting is Social Justice. APHA's meeting program addresses current and emerging health science, policy, and practice issues in an effort to prevent disease and promote health.

Attendees can stop by Booth #1757 in the exhibit hall to meet Westat project staff and learn about our capabilities as well as our projects and career opportunities in public health research.

Several Westat staff have leadership roles in APHA caucuses, special primary interest groups, and sections:

  • Luceli Cuasay, Dr.P.H.—Program Chair-Elect, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health
  • Patrick High, Dr.P.H.—Chair, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus of Public Health Professionals; LGBT Caucus representative, APHA Governing Council
  • Brenda Leath—Charter Advisory Board Member and Chair, Community Outreach Committee of Health Informatics Information Technology (HIIT) Special Primary Interest Group (SPIG); Councilor and HIIT SPIG Representative, APHA Governing Council
  • Wilhelmina Ross—Councilor, Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health Section, APHA Governing Council

Westat staff will be moderating, organizing, or presenting on the following:

Luceli Cuasay. (Moderator). Asian and Pacific Islander Disparities in Infectious/Communicable Disease.

Luceli Cuasay. (Moderator). Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Among Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Asian and Pacific Islander Health Across the Life Course.

Patrick High. (Moderator). Gay and Bisexual Men's Health.

Sam Korper. (Organizer/Moderator). The NIH Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function.

Ann Landy. (Presenter). Environmental Change Strategies for ATOD Prevention: Bridging Fidelity and Outcomes.

Brenda Leath. (Organizer). Health Informatics and Information Technology: Facilitating Data Sharing Between Public Health and Clinical Care.

Brenda Leath. (Organizer/Moderator/Presenter). Coordinating Care for Traumatic Brain Injury Patients Through EHRs.

Wilhelmina Ross. (Moderator). Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Eagle Books Make a Splash at Pop Culture Convention

Earlier this month, Westat showcased the Eagle Books project and its disease-preventing stories alongside crime-fighting comic books at New York's Comic Con, a popular culture convention held each year at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Comic Con, which drew 80,000 attendees, is host to the East Coast's latest in comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies, and television.

The Westat Graphics Department's display booth featured the original Eagle Books, a four-book series for young American Indian/Alaska Native children about diabetes prevention. The booth also previewed a new Eagle Books novel for middle schoolers, Coyote and the Turtle's Dream.

When Lemyra DeBruyn, Ph.D., field director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Native Diabetes Wellness Center (sponsors of the Eagle Books), arrived at the Javits Center, she was astounded by Westat's booth: "It's just as good as all the comic book industry displays...but it's certainly different. Who expects to find diabetes prevention alongside Batman, the Joker, and Catwoman!"

Teresa Lofton, Ph.D., a Westat Senior Study Director and director of Westat's Atlanta Office, and Patrick Rolo, a member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe Indians and Westat's consultant-illustrator, couldn't wait to see the full-color prototype of the new novel. Dr. Lofton, author of the novel, was very excited about the end product: "After all the months of production and clearance, it is a real book now."

Dr. Lofton and Mr. Rolo are now collaborating on the translation of Coyote and the Turtle's Dream into a four-part graphic novel. Mr. Rolo explained that creating a graphic novel is a lot like making a movie, "Only it's just the two of us that will direct, cast, write the screenplay, design the costumes, and research locations." The graphic novel will come out next summer.

Dr. Lofton and Mr. Rolo were also interviewed by Stephanie Woodard, a reporter for Indian Country Today and contributor to the Huffington Post, for an article about the Eagle Books series. [*]

One of the best parts for the whole CDC/Westat team was the enthusiasm of the booth visitors. Dr. DeBruyn summed it up well: "Teachers, librarians, parents and children, game developers, people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, entertainment industry many people interested in these books about Native children and youth who spread the wise Eagle's messages about healthy food and being active. We came to Comic Con looking for ways to attract interest in the Eagle Books and sustain their messages. I think the contacts we made here are going to show us how to do that."

For more information:
Contact Westat [*]


Blaise Users Conference to Be Hosted by Westat

Westat is hosting the International Blaise Users Conference (IBUC) [*] in Baltimore, Maryland, October 19-21, 2010. The conference is an opportunity for collaboration among users of Blaise software for computer-assisted interviewing (CAI) and web data collection.

Jane Shepherd, a Westat Vice President, and Jim O'Reilly are chairing the Westat planning group. This is the 13th meeting of the group and the second time that Westat has hosted the event. Westat is the licensor and distributor of Blaise software in North and South America. Blaise Services at Westat provides licensing support and product training to licensees.

Westat staff will be making the following presentations at the conference:

Karen Brenner and Sudha Manoj. Integrating Regression Testing Tools with Blaise.

Rick Dulaney and Wendy Hicks. Computer-Audio Recorder Interviewing (CARI): Experience Implementing the New Blaise Capability.

Mary Laidlaw, Mike Rhoads, and Jane Shepherd. Post-Collection Processing with Blaise in a Distributed Environment.

Kathleen O'Reagan, Richard Frey, and Karen Robbins. Impressions of Basil.

Jim O'Reilly. Multi-Center Collaborative Survey Research with Blaise.

Mike Rhoads and Ray Snowden. Security Considerations in Blaise Environments: Options and Solutions.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Westat's Recycling Efforts Recognized by Montgomery County, Maryland

Westat has been selected to receive the Montgomery County, Maryland, 2010 Excellence in Recycling Award.

The Excellence in Recycling Award is given to recognized businesses in Montgomery County for recycling over 50 percent of their waste on an annual basis.

Westat started recycling long before it was required or recorded. Since 2001, the company has recycled over 4 million pounds of cardboard, paper, electronics, glass, and various other materials at its corporate location in Rockville, Maryland.

"This award is a true honor and testament to our ongoing commitment to be good environmental stewards in Montgomery County, our state, and the nation," noted Bruce Romer, Westat Vice President and Director of Administration. "We plan to continue doing our part by using environmentally sustainable methods and, in particular, maintaining our recycling efforts."

For more information:
Contact Westat


20th Annual Morris Hansen Lecture: October 12, 2010

Carl-Erik Särndal, Ph.D., will give the 20th Annual Morris Hansen Lecture titled Dealing with Survey Nonresponse: In Data Collection, in Estimation on Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at 3:30 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC.

J. Michael Brick, Ph.D. (Westat) and Roger Tourangeau, Ph.D. (University of Michigan) will be the discussants. The event is sponsored by the Washington Statistical Society (WSS), Westat, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The lecture will be held in the Jefferson Auditorium of USDA's South Building, which is located between 12th and 14th Streets at the Smithsonian Metro Stop (Blue/Orange Lines). Enter through Wing 5 or Wing 7 from Independence Ave. (The special assistance entrance is at 12th Street and Independence Ave.) A photo ID is required. Please preregister for this event [*] to help facilitate access to the building.

The Morris Hansen Lecture series was established by WSS in 1990 with a financial grant from Westat. The series seeks to achieve balance between theory, applications, and policy, and to highlight the diversity of disciplines that inform survey practice.

This lecture series was created to honor Morris Hansen, a former Westat Chairman of the Board, whose pioneering contributions to survey sampling and related statistical methods during his long and distinguished career at the U.S. Census Bureau and at Westat established many standards and methods, mostly still in use, for the conduct of surveys. In 1996 and 2006, Westat made additional financial contributions to WSS so that the Hansen Lecture series could continue.

WSS [*] provides additional information on this lecture, as well as topics and speakers of the previous lectures in the series.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Westat Staff to Participate at Cancer Bioinformatics Meeting

Westat cancer bioinformatics professionals and researchers will participate as presenters at the 2010 caBIG Annual Meeting [*] in Washington, DC, September 13-15, 2010. This year's conference theme is Building a Collaborative Biomedical Network.

Westat will also have a booth (#10) in the exhibit hall where Westat project staff members Keith Umbel, Chris Bingley, Barbara O'Brien, and Amy Solis will be presenting demonstrations of two of Westat's software systems:

  • Data Delivery Metadata System (DDMS), and
  • Biological and Environmental Sample Tracking (BEST) Software System

Meeting attendees are encouraged to stop by the booth to learn about these capabilities.

The caBIG World's Fair is an annual event highlighting deployment efforts and innovative applications of caBIG-interoperable technologies through posters, exhibits, and technology demonstrations. Attendees will network with colleagues, learn about caBIG capabilities and support resources, and see examples of how their peers are adapting and using caBIG to solve challenges in basic and clinical research. caBIG is designed to be a virtual network of interconnected data, individuals, and organizations whose goal is to redefine how research is conducted, care is provided, and patients/participants interact with the biomedical research enterprise.

Westat staff (names in bold) will contribute the following poster presentations.

Kerry Levin, Cynthia Helba, David Garner, Marsha Dunn, Kisha Koa, Keith Umbel, and Richard Moser. Using GEM to Foster Sharing and Collaboration on the Grid.

Barbara O'Brien, Arti Varanasi, Danielle Carrick, Charlie Lawrence, Kellar Wilson, and Jerome Wernimont. Tracking Biospecimen and Environmental Samples Collected for Large Population-Based Epidemiology Studies.

Ravi Rajaram, Lucille Patrichuk, Jayan Nair, Kasi Perumal, Sushmita De, and Diana Meyer. Production Implementation of the Oncology Patient Enrollment Network (OPEN)—caBIG Principles at Work.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Another Successful Summer for Westat's Internship Program for Underserved and Underrepresented Minority Students

Westat has just completed another successful summer internship program, part of its overall investment in future researchers. This was the 8th year of the 10-week program.

Westat's Summer Internship Program is designed to:

  • Increase the numbers of underserved and underrepresented minority researchers in the field,
  • Further the development of students in the social sciences,
  • Offer a program to broaden students' exposure to research beyond theory and provide them with an applied research experience, and
  • Provide students an opportunity to be in a mentoring relationship with seasoned researchers within Westat.

Research areas of interest to the interns have included child welfare, education, health, human factors, public health, substance abuse, and transportation. Interns are financially supported by the projects they work on, and each has a senior-level staff mentor who meets regularly with the intern.

As part of the program, interns attend a weekly seminar session to supplement what they learn through their assignments about Westat and contract research work. Seminar topics include an overview of contracts, grants, research ethics, Office of Management and Budget, data confidentiality and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and evaluation. At the end of the summer the interns make a joint presentation to Westat staff on their summer experiences.

Craig Love, Ph.D., and Donna Durant Atkinson, Ph.D., coordinate the initiative. "We're very pleased with the success of this program," noted Dr. Atkinson. "It enables interns to broaden their experiences and apply techniques and methodologies in the real world. Sometimes they see a direct connection, and other times they see a gap between what they learn in the classroom and conducting research in the real world. The program allows them to gain a stronger focus on hands-on research and evaluation, with the application of ideas into real projects."

Since the program began in 2003 with 2 interns, Westat's projects have supported 22 summer interns. Interns have at least a bachelor's degree and an interest in attending graduate school. Most interns are working on a master's or a doctorate when they come to Westat.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Community Service and Volunteerism Encouraged at Westat

Many Westat employees take volunteering just as seriously as their jobs, dedicating weekend hours or after-work hours to helping others in their community. Westat applauds their efforts and has encouraged the formation of the Westat Volunteer Group to facilitate these initiatives and help the community at large.

Joshua Noda and Maurice Johnson, Jr., two of the group's cofounders, organized interested employees after meeting with Westat Senior Vice President and Study Area Director Alex Ratnofsky, PhD. "Alex has always encouraged us to get more involved, to make a difference, in the community," noted Mr. Noda.

While the group started out small, with 10 to 15 participants at each event, the goal is to grow companywide. Each volunteer event is open to everyone at all skill levels. As Mr. Johnson noted, "You don't need to be athletic or have any special training to participate. The events are open to all levels of participation. Volunteers decide what role they want to have in an event."

To date, the company's volunteers have sorted clothes to give to families in need, helped out at soup kitchens, cleaned up a conservation park, held a clothing drive, and even participated in a run to raise money for a local animal shelter. "We've done a variety of events to see what volunteers are drawn to," explained Mr. Noda.

The group also has linked up to other groups, such as Hands on DC, to participate in larger community events. Hands on DC is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that organizes projects to improve the physical condition of DC public schools. For the past 2 years, Westat's volunteer brigade has joined the organization's annual spring Work-a-Thon in which more than 2,000 volunteers work in more than 30 schools.

In October 2010, the Westat Volunteer Group will again participate in Montgomery County Community Service Day. The event is sponsored by the county's Office of Community Partnerships to mobilize people and resources to deliver creative solutions to community problems. In past years, Westat volunteers have helped individuals transitioning from homelessness in choosing housing supplies. In addition, volunteers participated in the Bikes for the World program with cleaning, assembling, and loading donated bicycles and bicycle parts for transit.

"Westat is committed to providing our employees with a variety of resources that help balance work, life, and personal well-being," noted Megan McCarthy, a communications assistant in the Human Resource Services Department. "The Volunteer Group can open up new opportunities for employees to reach these goals."

For more information:
Contact Westat


National Health Communication Conference Features Contributors from Westat

Westat health marketing professionals and health communication researchers will participate as presenters at the Fourth Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media [*] in Atlanta, Georgia, August 17-19, 2010. Westat will also have a booth in the exhibit hall, booth #22.

The conference is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office of the Associate Director for Communication. The following organizations are co-sponsors:

  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Public Health Information Coalition
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

This year's conference theme is Convergence: Purpose, Programs, & Partners. As the fields of health communication, marketing, and media converge, this conference is designed to further promote the merging of purpose, programs, and partners. The conference will bring together individual researchers and practitioners from academia, government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, and provides a forum for collegial dialogue within and across the disciplines of health communication, marketing, and media research.

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

Glynis Jones, Chandria Jones, and Mary Anne Myers. (Poster.) Partnerships, Promotion, and Practice: Effectively Using Marketing and Dissemination to Encourage the Adoption of Evidence—Based Practices in Mental Health.

Saloni Sapru, Jana Telfer, George Luber, Simani Price, and Colleen Ryan. (Poster.) Framing Climate Change in Terms of Human Health Effects: Qualitative Research Study with Emerging "Green" Opinion Leaders.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Researchers from Westat Participate at National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference

Researchers from Westat chaired panels and made presentations at the 13th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference held July 19 to 21 in Bethesda, Maryland. [*]

The conference, sponsored by the Children's Bureau [*] of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, brings together researchers, educators, consultants, and the staff of state, county, and tribal child welfare agencies and family courts.

The names of Westat presenters appear in bold.

Jane Mettenburg, Larry Brown, and Janet Ciarico. Enhancing Analytic Capacity: What Do You Need to Help Drive Performance?

Sid Schneider and Jane Mettenburg. Recent Developments in Health Information Technology: Relevance to the Child Welfare Field.

Caren Ginsberg. Clinical Decision Support in Healthcare: Relevance to Child Welfare.

Scott Finley. Model Electronic Health Record Format for Children.

Brenda Leath. Reducing Health Disparities Among Children in Foster Care: A Role for Health Information Technology.

Daksha Arora. Technology and Emergency Preparedness.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Westat Health Services Researchers Attend AcademyHealth Meeting

Westat health services researchers in health information technology, health economics, and patient safety attended and presented posters at the AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting (ARM) [*] in June.

AcademyHealth's ARM has been the premier forum for health services research. More than 2,300 attendees gathered to discuss health policy implications, sharpen research methods, and network with colleagues from around the world.

The posters contributed by Westat staff (names in bold) follow.

Colene Byrne, Eric Pan, Adam Vincent, Lauren Mercincavage, Douglas Johnston, and Blackford Middleton. Assessing the Value of the Veterans' Health Administration Investments in Health Information Technology.

Jonathan Ratner and Andrew Giffin. State-level Growth of Medicare Spending on Physician Services, 1992-2004.

Elaine Swift, Martha Franklin, Laura Milcetich, and Joann Sorra. Development of a Community Pharmacy Services Survey on Patient Safety Culture.

The ARM program is designed for health services researchers, providers, key decisionmakers, clinicians, graduate students, and research analysts who want to:
  • Examine emerging research issues critical to the organization, financing, and management of health services;
  • Get updates on the latest research studies and current health policy issues;
  • Hear the research funding priorities of foundations and Federal agencies; and
  • Explore the impact of health services research on improving access and quality of care.

For more information:
Contact Westat [*]


Joint Statistical Meeting Draws Westat Researchers as Participants

Researchers from Westat will be participating as authors, panelists, discussants, session chairs, and organizers in this year's Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 31-August 5, 2010. The conference is expected to attract more than 6,000 statisticians from around the world.

JSM is jointly sponsored by the following organizations:
  • American Statistical Association
  • International Biometric Society (Eastern and Western North American Regions)
  • Institute of Mathematical Statistics
  • Statistical Society of Canada
  • International Chinese Statistical Association
  • International Indian Statistical Association

Westat staff presentations and discussions will cover a wide range of topics, including measurement of elusive populations and phenomena, balancing individual privacy with access to data for policy making, implementation issues for statistical standards, methodological issues such as causal modeling, address-based sampling, two-phase data collection designs, coverage bias in random digit dial surveys, small-area estimation, and a variety of other topics.

Two senior Westat statisticians will be participating as officers of the American Statistical Association (ASA):
  • David Judkins will be serving as overall program chair for the 2011 JSM to be held in Miami Beach, Florida.
  • David Marker, Ph.D., serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the ASA, Chair of the Status Committee of the ASA Council of Chapters Governing Board, and Chair of the ASA Scientific and Public Affairs Committee.

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 JSM Preliminary Program [*].

Johnny Blair and Pat Dean Brick. Methods for the Analysis of Cognitive Interviews.

J. Michael Brick (Discussant). Conducting Effective Nonresponse Bias Analysis Studies in Household and Establishment Surveys. Invited—Papers.

J. Michael Brick (Organizer and Chair). Two-Phase Data Collection Designs. Topic—Contributed Papers.

David Cantor, Richard Sigman, Daifeng Han, and Maribel Aponte. A Two-Phase Sample for the National Survey of Veterans.

Ralph DiGaetano, Jim Green, Jay Clark, and Marshall Fritz. Multiple Frame Sample Design and Estimation for the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses: Theory, Implementation, and Assessment.

Brad Edwards (Chair). Variance Estimation in Complex Sample Designs. Contributed—Papers.

W. Sherman Edwards, J. Michael Brick, Royce Park, and David Grant. Implementing Two-Stage Interviewing in an RDD Survey.

Jiaquan Fan. Testing the Robustness of BUGS and MPLUS.

Robert E. Fay (Discussant). Current Applications of Small-Area Estimation Using Data from Complex Surveys. Invited—Papers.

Robert E. Fay and Jianzhu Li. Effects of Unbounded Interviews, Time-in-Sample, and Recency on Reported Crimes in the National Crime Victimization Survey.

David Grant, Sunghee Lee, Royce Park, J. Michael Brick, and W. Sherman Edwards. Sampling Children and Teens in a Cell Phone Health Survey.

Daifeng Han, Jill Montaquila, Douglas Williams, and J. Michael Brick. An Examination of the Bias Effects with a Two-Phase Address-Based Sample.

Valerie Hsu, Jill Montaquila, and J. Michael Brick. Predicting Areas Where USPS-Based Address Lists May Be Used in Place of Traditional Listing.

David Judkins (Chair). JSM 2011 Program Committee Meeting.

Jennifer Kali, Tom Krenzke, Keith Rust, and John Burke. Weight Calibration across Subject-Specific Samples in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Graham Kalton. Challenges in Sampling Elusive Populations.

Tom Krenzke (Panelist). Balancing Individual Privacy with Access to Data for Policymaking.

Hyunshik Lee. Variance Estimation for a Small Number of PSUs.

Shin-Jung Lee, James Lepkowski, Kristen Olson, and Dandan Zhang. Incorporating Nonresponse Follow-Up into a Main Survey Data Set.

Jianzhu Li and Robert E. Fay. Assessing the Association between the Crime Rates from the National Crime Victimization Survey and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

David A. Marker. Are 911 Listings Good Enough to Use as a Sampling Frame for Area Surveys?

David A. Marker (Chair). Council of Chapters Governing Board Status Committee Meeting.

David A. Marker (Chair). Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee Meeting.

Nancy Mathiowetz, Rob Andrews, J. Michael Brick, and Lynne Stokes. A Pilot Test of a Dual Frame Mail Survey of Recreational Marine Anglers.

Jill Montaquila (Roundtable Discussant). Planning for Nonresponse Bias Analyses.

Jill Montaquila, J. Michael Brick, and Douglas Williams. Maximizing Response for Households with Children in a Two-Phase Address-Based Sample.

David Morganstein (Discussant). Implementation Issues for Statistical Standards. Topic Contributed—Papers.

Andrea Piesse, David Judkins, Laura Alvarez-Rojas, and William R. Shadish. Causal Inference Using Semiparametric Imputation.

Keith Rust and Pam Broene. Design Effects for Totals in Multistage Samples.

Sarah Shore, Jill Montaquila, and Valerie Hsu. The Presence and Characteristics of Households at Addresses Obtained by Field Listing and from USPS Lists.

Richard Sigman (Chair). Novel Survey Design and Estimation Methods. Contributed—Papers.

For more information:
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Cancer Registries Association Recognizes Westat's Work, Contributions

Westat's work and member contributions were recognized at the June 2010 North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) Annual Conference held in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Cancer data collected and processed by Westat for the Maryland Cancer Registry were submitted to the NAACCR for evaluation on quality, completeness, and timeliness measures. The NAACCR certified that Maryland data achieved the Gold Standard for all certification measures. This is a tremendous achievement due to the dedication and professional expertise of Westat staff working on the Maryland Cancer Registry Quality Assurance and Data Management contract.

Serban Negoita, M.D., Dr.P.H., a Westat epidemiologist and Senior Study Director, received the Member Recognition Achievement Award. The award is given to acknowledge the continuous voluntary contributions made by NAACCR members.

NAACCR is a professional organization that performs the following:

  • Develops and promotes uniform data standards for cancer registration;
  • Provides education and training;
  • Certifies population-based registries;
  • Aggregates and publishes data from central cancer registries; and
  • Promotes the use of cancer surveillance data and systems for cancer control and epidemiologic research, public health programs, and patient care to reduce the burden of cancer in North America.

For more information:
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International AIDS Conference Includes Westat Presenters

Westat researchers will be making a variety of presentations at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) [*] in Vienna, Austria, July 18-23, 2010. The theme of this year's conference is Rights Here, Right Now.

Westat staff (names in bold) will be contributing as follows:

Jennifer S. Read, Geraldo Duarte, Laura Freimanis Hance, Jorge Pinto, Beatrice Santos, Elizabeth Telles, Regina Succi, Jorge Alarcon, and Sonia K. Stoszek. Trends in the Management and Outcomes of HIV-infected Women and Their Infants at Sites in Latin America and the Caribbean: 2002-2009.

George K. Siberry, Ricardo H. Oliveira, Margot Krauss, Suzanne Essama-bibi, Cristina Hofer, D. Robert Harris, Adriana Tiraboschi, Ricardo de Souza, Heloisa Marques, Regina Succi, Thalita Abreu, Marinella Della Negra, Rohan Hazra, and Lynne M. Mofenson. Viral Load Predicts WHO Stage 3 and 4 Events in HIV-infected Children on HAART, Independent of CD4 T-lymphocyte Value.

Raphael Taty-Taty, Obengui Obengui, Abel Abengui, Chancel Guimbi, Moussa Sarr, and Hugues Loemba. Lipid Profiles of HIV-infected Congolese Patients Treated with Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTI) Combined with AZT and 3TC.

Pablo Tebas, Florin Tuluc, Wayne Wagner, Deborah Kim, Huaqing Zhao, René Gonin, Jeffrey Barrett, Renae Catalano, James Korelitz, Donna Butler, and Steven Douglas. A Phase IB Study Evaluating the Safety and Antiviral Activity of Aprepitant, a Neurokinin 1 Receptor Antagonist in HIV-1 Infected Adults.

Ibrahima Traorïé, Moussa Sarr, Birahim P. Ndiaye, Pape G. Sow, Mamadou C. Dia, Marie Cissïé, and Souleymane Mboup. Loss of Follow-up Among HIV-infected Female Sex Workers Receiving ARV in Dakar, Senegal.

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:
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Westat Expands Health Information Technology Staff

The mission of Westat's Center for Health Information Technology is to support the transformation of health care through the appropriate use of health information technology (HIT). To further that goal, our staff has expanded to include the following specialists in this field:

  • Colene Byrne, Ph.D. in Information Sciences (concentration in Health Information Policy and Management), Rockefeller Institute, State University of New York.
    Dr. Byrne led HIT evaluation projects, including a nursing home informatics project and the first Nationwide Health Information Network health information exchange pilot; assessed the value of the Veterans Health Administration's investment in HIT through benchmarking and cost benefit analyses; and developed HIT tools and "lessons learned" for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  • Elizabeth Freedman, M.P.H., Emory University; M.S.W., University of Pennsylvania.
    Ms. Freedman served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has more than 10 years of experience as a health technical writer.
  • Douglas Johnston, M.T.S. in Ethics (with a concentration in Health Policy), Harvard Divinity School.
    Mr. Johnston evaluated health information exchanges, assessed the value of the Veterans Health Administration's investment in HIT, developed a cost-benefit model for the value of health information exchange and interoperability, and identified IT trends.
  • Lauren Mercincavage, M.H.S. (with a concentration in Health Policy), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
    Ms. Mercincavage has evaluated the value of the Veterans Health Administration's investments in HIT, health information exchanges, and the sustainability of Nationwide Health Information Network pilot sites.
  • Eric Pan, M.Sc. in Medical Informatics, Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); M.D. (with distinction), Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
    Dr. Pan has led analytic and modeling efforts relating to HIT and its cost-effectiveness, evaluated health information exchanges, and overseen scientific methodology for HIT activities.
  • Cynthia Russell, M.S. in Nursing, University of Alabama, Birmingham.
    Ms. Russell is a master's-prepared nurse with a graduate certificate in nursing informatics from the University of Maryland and has more than 30 years of professional experience, including more than 17 years in nursing leadership positions at Frederick Memorial Hospital.
  • Adam Vincent, M.P.P. (Health Policy), Georgetown University.
    Mr. Vincent assessed the value of electronic prescribing related to Meaningful Use, personal health records, and telemedicine adoption. He also assessed the performance and value of the Veterans Health Administration's HIT investments.

Westat welcomes these skilled professionals to the staff and looks forward to their contributions in accelerating innovation and adoption of new technologies in HIT.

For more information:
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Westat Staff Assume Key Roles at Washington Statistical Society

The Washington Statistical Society (WSS) Board elected its members in June. Several key roles on the board will be held by Westat statistical staff:

  • J. Michael Brick, Ph.D.: President (July 2010-June 2011)
  • Jane Li, Ph.D.: Treasurer (July 2010-June 2012)
  • David Judkins: Methodology Section Chair (July 2009-June 2011)

Other non-elected Westat employees on the board include the following committee chairs:

  • Jill Montaquila, Ph.D.: Quantitative Literacy Committee
  • Daifeng Han, Sylvia Dohrmann (outgoing): Short Course Committee
  • Tom Krenzke: Curtis Jacobs Memorial

Also, Keith Rust, Ph.D., is a member of the Hansen Lecture Committee, Bob Clickner, Ph.D., is the Science Fair Coordinator, and Bob Fay, Ph.D., serves on the Herriot Award Committee as the representative from the American Statistical Association's (ASA's) Social Statistics Section.

The WSS is the largest, most active chapter of the ASA with about 900 members. Members work in the government, academic, and private sectors, spanning many disciplines. Members' interests and expertise cover an extensive range of areas in applied and theoretical statistics, data collection, survey methods, and allied subjects.

For more information:
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Cancer Registries Conference Includes Westat Staff

Westat staff will be participating in this year's North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) Annual Conference [*]. The meeting will be held in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, from June 19-25, 2010.

The theme for this year's meeting is Renewed Collaboration: A Modern Paradigm for Cancer Surveillance. Presentations will explore how existing and future cancer surveillance activities can collaborate across disciplines, jurisdictions, and organizations to enhance relationships, joint initiatives, and mutual learning.

Westat staff (names in bold) will be participating in the following:

Mary Mesnard. (Poster presentation.) Crossing Boundaries for Central Cancer Registry Professionals.

Serban Negoita. (Paper.) Association of Demographic Characteristics with Anatomic Stage/Prognostics Groups in Prostate Cancer.

Serban Negoita. (Paper.) Determinants of Collaborative Staging Input Items Availability: Maryland Experience 2004-2008.

Westat staff also provided support for the following presentations:

Assessing the Reliability and Validity of Primary Payer Information in Central Cancer Registry Data. C. Verrill, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ICD-9-CM Updates and U.S. Adoption of ICD-10-CM Coding Standard: Major Changes in Health Information Coding Practice and Implications for Cancer Surveillance. J. Ruhl, National Cancer Institute (NCI)/SEER.

The 2010 Hematopoietic and Lymphoid Neoplasm Project: What It Means for Central Registries. NCI/SEER.

Westat will be exhibiting at Booth 200 in the exhibit hall. Westat project staff members Marsha Dunn, Serban Negoita, Amy Solis, Mary Mesnard, and Sarah Sherman-VanDeventer will be available to provide meeting attendees an opportunity to learn about our projects and capabilities.

For more information:
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Westat will provide a key role in supporting clinicians around the nation as they implement electronic health records (EHRs).

For the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Westat will be assisting in planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating a collaborative Knowledge Sharing Network (KSN). This effort will be conducted for 60 regional extension centers (RECs).

The KSN will allow RECs to share practical experiences and knowledge, leverage external expertise, and develop and share best practices for the successful support of implementing and using EHRs in clinical practice.

Two important aspects of Westat's work will be:

  • Developing communities of practice, and
  • Designing standard procedures and formats for developing or identifying and disseminating best practice materials.

For more information:
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Westat to Participate in Global Health Council Conference Exhibit Hall

Westat will be exhibiting at this year's Global Health Council's (GHC's) Annual Conference [*] in Washington, DC, from June 14-18, 2010. The GHC is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world.

The theme of this year's meeting is Dateline 2010: Global Health Goals and Metrics. This theme is of particular relevance to Westat's domestic and international work. Westat is one of the foremost health and social science research organizations in the United States, collecting and analyzing information to improve the health, education, environment, and overall well-being of people worldwide.

Attendees are encouraged to visit Booth 304 in the exhibit hall to speak to Westat project staff members. Brenda Brewer, Karen Stewart, Jack Cahill, Tom Scialfa, and others will be available to discuss our projects and capabilities.

For more information:
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Laurie May, Ph.D., Joins Westat Staff

Laurie May, Ph.D., joined Westat in April as a Vice President. Dr. May brings an extensive research background in economic analysis, health policy research, and program evaluation for Federal agencies.

Over the course of her career, Dr. May has assessed access to care, quality of care, the effectiveness of new and alternative benefit options, the utilization of services, and the cost-effectiveness of alternative ways of organizing and financing service delivery. She has extensive experience working with Federal health data sets and claims data and in bringing together disparate data to support research.

Before joining Westat, Dr. May was Senior Vice President for Health Care Policy at ICF International where she developed and oversaw ICF's health care policy projects. Her research centered on program evaluation and assessment, with a focus on the development of improvements.

Prior to this position, Dr. May was Director of Health Care Programs and Market Leader for Health Care for CNA Corporation. In these roles, she designed and oversaw the company's health work. This research focused on health economics issues and other health policy challenges.

We look forward to working with Dr. May and welcome her to our organization.

For more information:
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Evaluation of Student Support Services Released

Does a Federal program to provide supplemental services to disadvantaged students help them to succeed in college? Westat conducted the National Evaluation of Student Support Services to uncover the answer. The findings [*] were released in late April by the U.S. Department of Education.

Student Support Services (SSS) provides supplemental services to participating students at selected colleges receiving SSS grants. Two-thirds of these students must be low-income and first-generation college students or students with disabilities. The other third must be low-income or first-generation college students. One-third of the disabled students also must be low income. The services these students receive can include counseling, tutoring, study labs, and instructional courses, to name a few.

The study looked at five student academic outcomes:

  • Retention in college,
  • Transfers from 2-year to 4-year institutions,
  • Degree completion,
  • Cumulative GPA, and
  • Cumulative total credits earned.

In this longitudinal study, Westat tracked the progress over 6 years of 2,900 student participants in SSS and 2,900 comparable students who did not participate in SSS. The study had a quasi-experimental design: Regression models and propensity scores were used to select a group of comparison students who were matched as closely as possible to the SSS students.

Some of the major findings of the study were as follows:

  • The receipt of supplemental services was correlated with improved student academic outcomes. This finding was consistent across all measures of academic outcomes and all types of statistical models.
  • Supplemental services continued to be important after the freshman year. In fact, the later-year services appear to show a stronger relationship to long-term outcomes than first-year services.
  • A few SSS services appeared to stand out by being related to improved student outcomes. However, some additional types of services also were related to improved student outcomes, though they were not necessarily SSS services. Also, there is some evidence that what may be most important is that students receive an appropriate "package" of services.

For more information:
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TRICARE Management Activity Awards Demonstration Project to Westat

Westat has been awarded a contract by TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) to carry out a demonstration project on the use of specific preventive health services offered to military members and their families. TMA manages the TRICARE health care program for active duty personnel, retired service personnel, National Guard/Reserve personnel, family members, survivors, and others entitled to U.S. Department of Defense medical care.

The goals of this demonstration project are to evaluate the efficacy of providing the following:

  • Incentives to encourage healthful behaviors among a non-Medicare eligible, retired population enrolled in TRICARE Prime; and
  • An annual preventive health services allowance to active-duty military service members.

Westat will enroll a total of 6,000 beneficiaries (including family members) from each of the two groups and then receive extracted information about completion of the required health services from existing military databases. In some cases, if health data are not available from the military databases, Westat will contact study participants to obtain permission to contact their civilian health care providers and confirm the completion of the activities. This information will be collated and analyzed on an annual basis. The specific required activities to receive the incentive or allowance differ between the two groups but will cover a wide range of lifestyle behaviors and health concerns, including physiologic and biometric measures. For active duty military members, preventive services such as the following will be required, as age appropriate:

  • Colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer screenings;
  • Annual physical and dental examinations;
  • Weight and body mass screening; and
  • Immunizations.

For more information:
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Westat Staff to Participate in 65th Annual Public Opinion Research Conference

A contingent of Westat staff will be attending and exhibiting at the 2010 conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) [*] in Chicago, Illinois, on May 13-16. The theme of this year's conference is Opportunity through Diversity. Westat staff will be presenting papers, briefs, and poster presentations, as well as serving as session discussants.

Presentations submitted by Westat staff cover a variety of topics: multilingual survey design, effects of offering alternate survey modes, bilingual questionnaires, issues in survey design, use of incentives, address-based sampling, multiphase and multistage survey methods, issues in noncoverage and nonresponse, and other methodological issues.

In addition to the presentations, Brad Edwards, a Westat Vice President and Associate Director, and Janet Harkness will be co-teaching a short course titled Multilingual, Multicultural, and Multinational (3M) Survey Design Methods: Applied.

Mr. Edwards will also be participating in a Meet the Author session with his co-authors Janet Harkness, Michael Braun, Tim Johnson, Lars Lyberg, Peter Mohler, Beth-Ellen Pennell, and Tom Smith to discuss their new book, Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural Contexts.

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

Pat D. Brick, David Cantor, Daifeng Han, and Maribel Aponte. Incorporating a Web Option in a Two-Phase Mail Survey.

Brad Edwards and Ryan A. Hubbard. The Burden of Proof: Panel Attrition and Record Usage on the MCBS.

W. Sherman Edwards, J. Michael Brick, Royce Park, and David Grant. A Two-Stage Interviewing Experiment in an RDD Survey.

Daifeng Han, David Cantor, Pat D. Brick, and Maribel Aponte. Findings From a Two-Phase Mail Survey for a Study of Veterans.

Graham Kalton. Developing Linkage Rules to Reduce Noncoverage.

Kerry Levin, Jocelyn Newsome, Martha Stapleton, Salma Shariff-Marco, Nancy Breen, and Gordon Willis. Assessing Asian-Language Translated Questions About Self-Reported Racial/Ethnic Discrimination in a Health Survey.

Karen Masken, George Contos, Roy Nord, and J. Michael Brick. Response Mode and Bias Analysis in the IRS' Individual Taxpayer Burden Survey.

Brett McBride and David Cantor. Factors in Skip Errors and Omissions on a Self-Administered Paper Questionnaire.

Jill M. Montaquila, J. Michael Brick, Mary C. Hagedorn, and Douglas Williams. Maximizing Response in a Two-Phase Survey With Mail as the Primary Mode.

Jennifer E. O'Brien, Tom Krenzke, David Ferraro, Howard King, Michele Harmon, Jocelyn Newsome, Kerry Levin, and Martin Rater. Favorable Results From a Low Effort Follow-Up: An Investigation of Nonresponse Bias in a Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Sid J. Schneider, Barbara Gustavson, Tiandong Li, Huseyin Goksel, Ralph DiGaetano, and W. Sherman Edwards. Respondents' Methods for Recalling Data in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Charlotte Tubman and Douglas Williams. The Effectiveness of Incentives Used in the Second Phase of a Two-Phase Survey.

Douglas Williams, Jill M. Montaquila, J. Michael Brick, and Mary C. Hagedorn. Screening for Specific Population Groups in Mail Surveys.

Andrew Zukerberg and Daifeng Han. ¿Habla Español? Impact of Offering a Bilingual Option in a Mail Survey of Linguistically Isolated Areas.

For more information:
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Wounded Military Personnel to Be Surveyed by Westat

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) has contracted Westat to conduct a web survey of its alumni. The goal of the survey is to assess current health status, functioning, and well-being of veterans and current service members who have sustained service-connected injuries and illnesses since September 11, 2001.

To date, more than 39,000 military personnel have been wounded or killed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, other studies estimate that over 300,000 suffer from invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression.

"Our work in this area is a natural extension of the many years of supporting the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs," noted Westat Senior Study Director Wayne Hintze, project director of the study. "We look forward to supporting the research of wounded warriors for years to come so we might help improve their care and recovery."

Westat will collect the web survey data, analyze results, and present findings to WWP in a final report. The long-range plan is to conduct the survey annually, which would enable tracking of these outcomes over time.

WWP, a nonprofit organization, endeavors to improve the lives of severely injured service members through the following efforts:

  • Increase public awareness about this population's needs;
  • Bring about legislative and policy changes to address those needs; and
  • Augment the services available to them through the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies.

For more information:
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Educational Research Meeting Attracts Broad Range of Westat Researchers as Participants

Westat researchers will be serving as presenters at this year's American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting [*]. The theme for this year's meeting is Understanding Complex Ecologies in a Changing World. The meeting will be held in Denver, Colorado, April 30-May 4, 2010.

AERA is the most prominent international professional organization advancing the dual goals of educational research and its practical application. The annual meeting convenes more than 14,000 educational researchers from the United States and abroad.

Reflecting our organization's broad range of research activity, Westat attendees will be presenting the results of studies on a variety of topics, including high school dropout rates, school vouchers, reading curricula, special education, educational technology, teacher pay-for-performance, student course enrollment patterns, and others. The following is a list of Westat staff presenting this year's conference.

Joseph Gasper. Timing and Turbulence: A New Look at Mobility and Dropout.

Babette Gutmann. The District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts after 3 Years.

Jennifer A. Hamilton. Striving Readers: Results from Newark, New Jersey.

Frank F. Jenkins, Brad Keller, and Elaine Carlson. Patterns of Reading and Math Growth among Young Children with Disabilities.

Frank F. Jenkins. Measuring Problem Solving with Technology: A Demonstration Study for NAEP.

Keith MacAllum, John Wells, and Xiaodong Zhang. Evaluation of Ohio's Teacher Incentive Fund.

Robert Colby Perkins and Stephen E. Roey. Algebra I: The Moving Target in Course-Taking Trends.

Robert Colby Perkins and Stephen E. Roey. Utilizing Electronic Files and Transcripts to Enhance the NAEP High School Transcript Study.

Stephen E. Roey. The Breadth and Depth of High School Algebra I Courses: Examining Differences in Course Content.

For more information:
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Dr. Simani Price, Jennifer Berktold to Contribute to Seminar on Health Communication in the New Millennium

The work of Westat Senior Study Directors Dr. Simani Price and Jennifer Berktold will be presented at the final seminar of the 2010 Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series. The series is sponsored by the Rockville Institute and the Universities at Shady Grove.

This month's seminar is titled Health Communication in the New Millennium: Getting Health Information to a Population Through New Media. It will be held on Thursday, April 29, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Each seminar, which is free and open to the public, is held in the Camille Kendall Academic Center [*], Building III, Room 3241, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, Maryland, 20850.

The presentation will provide an overview of the changing media landscape and its implications for health messaging. The application of new media to improve patient provider communications, reach at risk youth, disseminate risk communication messages, and encourage lifestyle changes will be discussed. Recent examples include:

  • Smoking cessation and weight loss interventions administered via cell phones,
  • HIV and youth dating violence prevention social media campaigns aimed at high risk populations,
  • Computer games designed to improve adolescent health,
  • A FDA/CDC peanut recall blog.

Perspectives from disseminators and consumers of health information will be provided through a series of short video clips from interviews conducted with social media experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an American University communication professor, and members of the general public.


Clinical Research Professionals Meeting Includes Westat Staff

Westat staff will be participating in this year's Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) Global Conference and Exhibition [*]. The meeting will be held in Tampa, Florida, April 23-27, 2010. More than 2,500 clinical research professionals from pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, hospital, academic medical center, and physician practice settings are expected to attend.

Westat will be exhibiting at Booth 434 in the exhibit hall. Westat project staff Karen Stewart and Marsha Johnson will be available to provide meeting attendees an opportunity to learn about our projects and capabilities.

Ms. Johnson will be presenting a poster at the conference: Regulatory and GCP Compliance in an International Setting. The poster represents the challenges and solutions to conducting clinical trials in an international setting.

For more information:
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Seminar on Health Care Innovations and the AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange Set for April 22, 2010

Health Care Innovations is the topic of the third in a series of seminars of the 2010 Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series, which is sponsored by the Rockville Institute and the Universities at Shady Grove.

This seminar will be held Thursday, April 22, 2010,* at 4:00 p.m. in the Camille Kendall Academic Center [*], Building III, Room 3241, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, Maryland, 20850. Each seminar is free and open to the public.

After Dr. Veronica Nieva, a Westat Vice President and Associate Director, introduces the topic of service delivery innovations in health care, Judi Consalvo of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will provide the agency's perspective on the goals for the Innovations Exchange. Dr. Nieva will then also demonstrate the Innovations Exchange web site ( [*] and discuss how the term "innovations" is defined, how each innovation is presented, and how the public can use the site. Dr. Judith Rogers, Chief Nurse Executive and Vice President of Patient Care Services at Holy Cross Hospital, will share information about a special emergency unit especially designed for elderly patients.

The final seminar topic that will be covered this spring is as follows:

*This seminar was originally scheduled for Thursday, February 11, 2010. Due to inclement weather, the seminar was rescheduled to this date.


Westat Staff to Participate at SAS Global Forum 2010

On April 11-14, Westat staff will participate in the SAS Global Forum 2010 [*] at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington.

Westat staff member Michael Raithel will be presenting two invited papers at the conference. Jennifer Fulton will present a contributed paper as well.

Mr. Raithel is also featured as a lunchtime keynote speaker on Tuesday, April 13, with his light-hearted look at how It's Not Easy Being a SAS Programmer. Duke Owen, Conference Executive Board member, and Rick Mitchell, Conference Section Chair, will serve organizational roles at the conference.

The list of papers to be presented by Westat staff and coauthors follows (Westat staff names in bold):

Jennifer K. Fulton. Dealing with Lab Data — Stacking the Deck in Your Favor.

Michael Raithel. PROC DATASETS: The Swiss Army Knife of SAS® Procedures.

Michael Raithel. Supporting SAS® Software in a Research Organization.

Arthur Tabachneck, Randy Herbison, Andrew Clapson, John King, Roger DeAngelis, and Tom Abernathy. Automagically Copying and Pasting Variable Names.

For more information:
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Dr. Andrea Sedlak Publishes Article on Youth in Custody Survey

Dr. Andrea Sedlak, Westat Vice President and an Associate Director, published an article in the December 2009 issue of Corrections Today on the findings for the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) [*]. The survey, for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Department of Justice, offers a unique perspective on youth in custody. It is the first national survey to gather data directly from youth in juvenile justice placement.

More than 7,000 offenders between the ages of 10 and 20 in more than 200 facilities answered questions on a broad range of subjects. The survey was administered by an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI). This method ensured anonymity and avoided any difficulties due to poor literacy. Here are a few statistics concerning incarcerated youth:

  • With prior convictions: 85%
  • Have used alcohol or drugs: 88%
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the offense that led to their current custody: 44%
  • Below the grade level typical for their age: 48%
  • Diagnosed with learning disabilities: more than 7 times the general population rate
  • Had recent suicidal thoughts or feelings: 30%
  • Report prior sexual abuse: 12% (20 times higher than the general population)
  • Under age 18 in units with young adults who are 18 years or older: 43%
  • Likelihood of young adults housed with older individual whose most serious career offense is murder: 42%

Dr. Sedlak summarized the findings with the following recommendations:

  • Improve coverage of mental health services.
  • Target substance abuse counseling and treatment; provide more comprehensive interventions; and use more qualified substance abuse service providers.
  • Obtain systematic information on youths' educational needs and services in placement.
  • Avoid housing juveniles with substantially older youth.
  • Develop programs that address youths' specific circumstances and capitalize on their aspirations to motivate positive changes.

For more information:
Contact Westat [*]


NIAID Selects Westat to Support the Development of a Research Network in Mexico

Westat has been chosen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to provide administrative, technical, and management support for the development of an infectious disease network in Mexico. The H1N1 influenza virus (Swine Flu) will be the first disease of interest.

The network will be a joint collaboration between the Mexican and U.S. governments and will conduct time-sensitive infectious disease research. This collaboration will also work to develop a robust independent research capacity in Mexico.

Westat staff will provide a variety of support services:

  • Provide administrative, technical, and managerial support to network investigators; and
  • Identify and manage subcontractor(s) to assist with:
    • Hiring study coordinators, data managers, and information technology staff in Mexico City; and
    • Supplying essential equipment to the network sites.

Westat will work with this Mexican-U.S. research collaboration to:

  • Develop and implement an influenza/influenza-like respiratory syndrome natural history study;
  • Assess and continuously identify opportunities to improve the existing clinical research infrastructure of the network clinical research sites in Mexico; and
  • Explore ways to enhance research expertise through training and capacity building.

For more information:
Contact Westat Clinical Trials


Dr. Donna Durant Atkinson, Brenda Leath to Participate in Seminar on Health Disparities

Dr. Donna Durant Atkinson, a Westat Senior Study Director; Brenda Leath, a Westat Senior Study Director; and Dr. Marilyn Lynk of the Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare will speak at the second in a series of seminars for the 2010 Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series. The series is sponsored by the Rockville Institute and the Universities at Shady Grove.

This seminar is titled The Health Disparities Solution—Is it Merely Putting Theory into Practice? It will be held on Thursday, April 1, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Each seminar, which is free and open to the public, is held in the Camille Kendall Academic Center [*], Building III, Room 3241, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, Maryland, 20850.

The presentation will lay the groundwork by describing what health disparities are and how they are measured. Focus will be on the vulnerable populations who face these disparities and the particular health conditions for which they are most at risk.

Information about what is being done to address the disparities will be shared, and the agencies and organizations that are involved in reducing these disparities will be discussed. This session will also provide information on what key issues are associated with health disparities and how they can be addressed by the health care and broader communities.

The next seminars in the series are as follows:

Innovations in Health Care Delivery
Thursday, April 22, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

Health Communication in the New Millennium: Getting Health Information to a Population Through New Media
Thursday, April 29, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.


Head Start Impact Study Final Report Released

The Head Start Impact Study (HSIS) Final Report [*] was released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study's goals were to determine:

  • The impact of Head Start on children's school readiness and parental practices that support children's development, and
  • Under what circumstances Head Start achieves its greatest impact and for which children.

Westat and its subcontractors studied the progress of nearly 5,000 3- and 4-year-old children. The children were randomly assigned to either a group with access to Head Start program services, or a control group that did not have access to Head Start but could enroll in other early childhood programs or non-Head Start services selected by their parents.

The general findings are as follows:

  • Head Start had an impact on children's language and literacy development while enrolled in Head Start.
  • By the end of 1st grade, the Head Start children and the control group children were on the same level on many of the cognitive measures.
  • Head Start children were more likely than control group children to receive dental checkups or care during their Head Start years.
  • Positive findings in the social-emotional and parenting practices domains were focused on the 3-year-olds and concentrated during the Head Start years with some evidence of impact during the school years.

Westat was awarded a contract to collect data during the children's 3rd grade year. We are currently in the process of analyzing these data.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Vasudha Narayanan Presented Findings from the Skills Gap Survey in Mumbai

Vasudha Narayanan, a Westat Senior Study Director, presented a report at the 1st Annual Convention of the Higher Education Forum (HEF) on March 6, 2010, in Mumbai, India. More than 200 attendees participated. They represented stakeholders from both the academic and corporate worlds who are associated with higher education in India.

Ms. Narayanan provided an overview of the findings from the Skills Gap Survey. The survey was designed to address the question of whether new MBA graduates of India's institutes and universities meet the expectations of their first employers. HEF initiated the survey; Westat and 1SOS, a Mumbai-based market research firm, cosponsored the study.

The project used a combination of a web-based survey and individual, semi-structured interviews to examine this and related questions among Human Resources and senior executives from 74 organizations in the Indian banking, financial services, and insurance sector.

The survey found that industry has the highest expectations for newly hired MBAs in the area of attitudes, followed by skills, and finally by knowledge. The consensus view, as shared by one respondent, was clear: "We hire people for attitude and train them for the skills."

The Skills Gap Survey found the following areas were most important to industry:

  • Industry expects new MBAs to come to the corporate world with the proper attitude.
  • MBAs must be committed, dedicated, self-disciplined, self-motivated, and show an aptitude and willingness to learn.
  • MBAs must possess strong analytic, listening, and communication skills, and they must be able to work in a team and collaborate.
  • Finally, MBAs must come in with at least a basic knowledge of the organization and processes within the organization, and an understanding of products, solutions, and services - including those of competitors - as well as consumer behavior.

For more information:
Contact Westat


Dr. Roline Milfort to Participate in Seminar on Employment Barriers for People with Mental Illness

Dr. Roline Milfort, a Westat Senior Study Director and Director of Operations for the Mental Health Treatment Study (MHTS), and Shree Paralkar of St. Luke's House, one of the 22 MHTS demonstration sites, will speak at the first in a series of seminars for the 2010 Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series. The series is sponsored by the Rockville Institute and the Universities at Shady Grove.

This seminar is titled Barriers to Employment for People with Mental Illness. It will be held on Thursday, March 4, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. Each seminar, which is free and open to the public, is held in the Camille Kendall Academic Center [*], Building III, Room 3241, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, Maryland, 20850.

The presentation will:

  • Provide a brief overview of the Mental Health Treatment Study (MHTS) and the study participants.
  • Provide a brief summary of the community resources available in Montgomery County, Maryland, for persons with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Discuss barriers at the recruitment level and reasons for refusal to participate.
  • Discuss barriers to employment success among participants receiving the MHTS intervention.
  • Discuss success stories that exemplify how some of the barriers can be overcome and the lessons learned throughout the process.
  • Discuss implications for mental health providers, employers, researchers, and family members.

Other seminar topics that will be covered this spring include the following:

The Health Disparities Solution— Is It Merely Putting Theory into Practice?
Thursday, April 1, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

Innovations in Health Care Delivery
Thursday, April 22, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

Health Communication in the New Millennium: Getting Health Information to a Population Through New Media
Thursday, April 29, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.


Babette Gutmann to Participate in Education Reform Lecture Series

On February 26, 2010, Westat Vice President Babette Gutmann will be giving a lecture as part of the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform Lecture Series [*]. The spring semester series will include other leading education researchers from across the Nation, including Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and Swarthmore. Speakers will discuss practical issues of importance to improving education.

Ms. Gutmann's lecture is titled Design and Results from an Intervention Study of Preschool and Parenting Curricula Using an RCT (Randomized Control Trial). It will provide a description of the impacts of the Even Start Classroom Literacy Intervention and Outcomes (CLIO) study on eligible preschoolers and their parents. CLIO introduced research-based, literacy-focused curricula in participating Even Start projects. The lecture will also describe challenges in the design and implementation of the CLIO study.

Other lectures in the series will be covering a variety of topics. Attendees will learn about how to improve student attendance, how to design merit pay systems, when it is best to hold school elections, and the appropriate role for courts in determining school spending levels, among other topics.


Health Care Knowledge Transfer and Implementation Activities Conducted by Westat

Westat will conduct knowledge transfer and implementation activities for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer. This project will enable target audiences to put AHRQ's products, tools, and research into practice.

As the first task under this multiyear contract, AHRQ has asked Westat to promote state implementation of MONAHRQ. MONAHRQ is a free software application for analyzing hospital administrative data and creating web sites for reporting hospital performance measures and other information for public use.

Westat will conduct state outreach activities and a learning network as part of its knowledge transfer/implementation efforts.

For more information:
Contact Westat

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