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NIEHS-Funded Epidemiology Resources Faceted Search Tool

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the NIEHS-Funded Epidemiology Resources Faceted Search Tool and why was it created?

    The Epidemiology Resources website is tool a for individuals who want to find information about the environmental epidemiology studies NIEHS has funded through its extramural grants program.

    The tool aims to help the public learn more about the extramural environmental epidemiology studies NIEHS funds, and to maximize the substantial investment NIEHS has made in these studies by facilitating new collaborations and ancillary studies within the environmental health research community.

  2. What is the difference between a study population and a project?

    The term study population is used to describe a group of people followed over time and evaluated for a specific health outcome or disease in relation to harmful contaminantsand other environmental stressors.  

    A project is an individual grant funded by NIEHS that: supported initial development of the study population; added study participants; collected additional information or samples from study participants; and/or used samples or datasets derived from the study population.

    Together, a study population and all associated projects are an epidemiology resource.

  3. What types of information are included in the tool?

    Information is provided at both the study population and project level. The information provided at the study population level is an overview of all information in the projects associated with the study population. If a data field is not applicable to a study population or project, it will not appear on the webpage.

    At the study population level, data fields include:

    • Principal Investigator
    • Institution
    • Location
    • Number of participants
    • Lifestage of participants
    • Exposure agents
    • Health outcomes

    At the project level, data fields include:

    • Exposure agents
    • Health outcomes
    • Biosamples
    • Other participant data (e.g., Behavioral or cognitive tests performed, surveys or questionnaires used)
    • Lifestage of participants
    • Environmental sample
    • Genes or other DNA products studied
    • Epigenetic mechanisms studied
  4. Where did you get the information included in the Epidemiology Resources search tool?

    NIEHS extramural projects funded since 2012 were reviewed to identify those studying human populations. Study populations were selected by NIEHS staff using the following guidelines:

    • Has an active NIEHS-funded project at time of selection
    • Projects associated with a study population interact with or collect additional samples or information from study participants (i.e., not a record- or data-based study)
    • Has at least 250 study participants
    • Follows study participants over time

    The abstract and specific aims of relevant grant applications were reviewed by NIEHS staff and study population principal investigators to populate information for each data field. 

    The “Most Recent Award Year” indicated for a project is the year of the project’s newest funding cycle. In some cases, the project has been funded for multiple years prior to what is indicated by the Most Recent Award Year. You can view all instances of funding for the project in NIH RePORTER by clicking on the linked grant number in a project detail page or the RePORTER link in the “Related NIEHS-Funded Study Projects” section of a study population detail page.

  5. How do I search the Epidemiology Resources search tool?

    You can search the Epidemiology Resources tool using a keyword or a filter search:

    Keyword Search:

    If you are interested in searching for a specific term, enter your search term into the Keyword search box. Performing a keyword search will return results where the specified text appears in the study population brief description and any of the specific descriptors available for the study populations or projects (e.g., Exposures, Health Outcomes, Lifestage of Participants, etc.) This will search the largest amount of information and may result in a greater number of results returned than a filter search.

    • Keyword search is not case sensitive.
    • Use an asterisk (*) in your search term or phrase to broaden your search by finding words that start with the same letters (e.g., asthma* will return results containing both Asthma or Asthmatic).
    • Use quotation marks to search for a phrase for more focused results (e.g., "breast cancer").
    • The keyword search does not search project abstracts. This is to avoid false positives.

    Filter Search

    If you are interested in narrowing results based on broad categories, use the Filter Search option by selecting checkboxes to filter results for your area of interest. Performing a filter search will return results where the specified filter term has been assigned to a study population or project. It will not search for occurrences of the term in additional text (e.g., Project Description, Abstract, Title, etc.)

    • Checkboxes within a group have an "OR" relationship. For example, you could select both Metals and Pesticides in the Exposures group, to find study populations or projectsrelating to either one or both terms.
    • Checkboxes in separate groups have an "AND" relationship. For example, you could select Metals in the Exposures group and Cancer in the Health Outcomes group to find study populations and projectswith a focus on both metals and cancer.
    • A filter value of “Not Specified” indicates that the more general filter is applicable, but a more detailed descriptor cannot be applied. For example, if a study population or projectis assigned the filter “Air Pollutants, Not Specified”, it studies effects of general air pollution without a focus on the specific pollutant, such as elemental carbon, or VOCs.
  6. How often is the Epidemiology Resources search tool updated?

    The database is planned to be updated on an annual basis starting in 2019. Each year we will invite study population principal investigators to review the information and provide updates. NIEHS will also continue to add newly funded study populations and projects to the tool. 

  7. Can I recommend study populations or projects to be included in the search tool?

    Yes. If you believe a study population or project should be added to the search tool, please send your recommendation to Toccara Chamberlain. NIEHS staff will review the request to determine if it should be included.  

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