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Growing Our 12-Plus Year Collaboration with NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


  • How can NYC conduct successful health surveys in an era of declining participation rates?
  • Abt identified—and solved— problems and enhanced survey results.
  • Since 2008, Abt has leveraged our accumulating knowledge to our ongoing work for NYC.
The Challenge

Among large cities, New York City (NYC) is unique due to the diversity of its more than 8 million residents. Residents come from a variety of countries,  speak multiple languages, have varying degrees of mobility and literacy, and live in a variety of dwelling types (such as single-family homes, multiple-family units, and gated high-rise units). In an era of declining public participation in surveys and continued interest in methodological rigor, NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) needed a vendor to provide innovative solutions to help reach the City’s unique population.

The Approach

Since 2008, Abt has conducted numerous studies for DOHMH—including the Community Health Survey (CHS) and the New York City KIDS Survey—and we have completed nearly 140,000 interviews with adult NYC residents. We have applied valuable insights to the CHS, working closely with DOHMH to monitor study performance, anticipate and identify issues, and develop and implement modifications to improve study design and administration. Throughout the evolution of the KIDS Survey, Abt has worked with DOHMH to develop and continuously improve a health surveillance study that provides critical prevalence estimates on health, emotional development, and behavior of children, as well as measures of household and socio-environmental conditions that directly impact children in the City.

The Results

During the last 12 years, we have developed a comprehensive understanding of NYC's population and survey-related challenges—both overall and for the neighborhoods that make up NYC. We have applied these valuable lessons and brought our insights to each project to help DOHMH identify, problem-solve, and enhance study results, using our intimate knowledge of the City and the public health survey research environment to implement numerous adjustments to survey design and practice to optimize each project. These improvements cover a wide range of areas, from sampling and weight evaluations to overhauling the geographical designs.

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