A. The Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study is a comprehensive look at the health of Minnesota taconite workers through five separate but related study designs. The broad studies categories are:
A. Funding is provided by the State of Minnesota, Iron Range Resources, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota.
A. For taconite workers, the researchers hope to determine the amount of non-cancerous lung disease associated with breathing dust from taconite operations. For spouses, the researchers hope to find out whether they are at risk for lung diseases from dust carried home on the clothes of the taconite worker.
A. It will take a long time to gather all the data, organize it and analyze it for results. Complete overall study results could take 3-5 years to produce. The University of Minnesota is committed to frequent communication with the taconite community and will hold community meetings to discuss the progress of the study.
A. The results of the study will be the sole property of the University of Minnesota and we are committed to fully publishing the results of the study, whatever they may be, in peer-reviewed journals.
A. For the Respiratory Health Survey of Taconite Workers and Spouses a valid scientific answer will involve testing 1,200 current or former workers and up to 800 spouses of participating workers for a maximum of 2,000 individuals.
A. It is not necessary to test everyone. We can test an appropriate sample of the taconite workers and this representative sample can give accurate results for the entire group. This way take less time and cost less money and the results can be generalized to all taconite workers and spouses.
A. You should speak with your current health care provider or primary care physician. You should discuss with your doctor whether the tests being done for the study (chest x-ray and lung function tests) are important for you to have.
A. You should contact your local County Public Health and Human Services office. A county worker can help you to determine which Minnesota Health Care Program(s) you may be eligible for.
A. Recruiting for and conducting study clinic visits for the Respiratory Health Survey will begin in August of 2009 and continue until the appropriate number of participants completes the testing.
A. Individual study results will be mailed to the participant approximately one month after the study clinic visit. If the tests reveal concerns about the participant's health that are serious, one of the licensed physicians conducting the study will contact the individual sooner to explain the results and offer suggestions about further care.
A. There are 5 main components of the study:
A. We plan to survey 1200 current and former taconite workers and up to 800 spouses. All current or former workers will be eligible for the survey and participants will be randomly selected from that population. The sample will be stratified by age and geography (east range vs. west range). In order to have a scientifically valid sample participants will be randomly selected and cannot volunteer to participate in the survey.
A. The survey will consist of a symptom and exposure questionnaire, standard PA chest x-ray, pulmonary function tests consisting of spirometry and DLCO, a venous blood draw, and a brief physical exam. There is no charge for these tests and exam.
A. Participants who undergo the survey will get a report of their results within a month of their participation. They can also choose to have the results of their tests sent to their primary care physician. The chest x-rays will be read on site and any urgent findings will be communicated to the participant ASAP.
A. Subjects with abnormal findings on their tests will be encouraged to follow-up with their primary care provider. If they do not have a PCP they will be given contact information of providers in their area. If requested by the participant, referral to pulmonary specialists on the Iron Range will be provided. We have no plans to refer any patients outside of the range or to the U of MN unless they specifically request it. Follow-up care will be billed to the patient or their third party payer.