Vancouver Island’s chief medical health officer sits inside a soundproof hearing booth with oversized headphones over his ears and a smile on his face.
On Wednesday Dr. Richard Stanwick took a moment to test out the booth as he delightedly toured Statistics Canada’s mobile clinic, on site at the University of Victoria from now until mid-December while hundreds of Victoria and Saanich residents are given extensive medical testing as a part of the country’s most in-depth health study to date.
“It’s really important, not only for giving us a picture of how healthy the population is, but also where we will need to focus our prevention programs,” Stanwick said.
Inside the hearing booth, participants undergo hearing tests – an audiometric evaluation and a distortion product otoacoustic emission test, though not all the work conducted at the mobile clinic is so exotic.
Down the hall, a medical technician draws blood, while one more room over, two lab techs in white coats test the samples. Saanich is the eighth of 16 sites across the country where each day about 10 to 20 residents will visit the mobile clinic for about three hours of testing of blood pressure, skin pigmentation and lung function. Accurate height and weight measurements are also taken on site.
Stats Canada contacted 500 randomly selected respondents aged three to 79 from within Saanich and Victoria. If a person chooses to participate, or allows their child to participate – about 75 to 80 per cent of those contacted generally do – they then have homework to complete.
Participants wear a pedometer during all waking hours for a week and a Stats Can interviewer also sets up an indoor air quality sampling in the participants’ home, as well as a test on their tap water prior to the visit to the mobile clinic.
“A lot of data in the past has been self-reported, but a pedometer doesn’t really lie,” said Albert Guite site manager for the Stats Canada survey.
All results are shared with participants, but remain confidential and used to capture a broad portrait of health in Canada. This, the third cycle of the survey, began in January 2012, and is intended to create baseline data on a number of health concerns, from cardiovascular health and nutritional status, to exposure to environmental contaminants.
“Some of these tests would never be paid for, for a healthy individual,” Stanwick said. “Here, we’re doing a completely holistic approach in picking up undetected disease.”