An overall goal of scientific research on groups such as veterans is generalizability — the measure of how well the research findings and conclusions from a sample population can be extended to the larger population.
It is always dependent on studying an ideal number of participants and the "correct" number of individuals representing relevant groups from the larger population such as race, gender or age.
In setting the eligibility criteria for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, VA researchers used generalizability as an important consideration.
Simply put, they want as many veterans and active-duty service members who had deployed to specific locations to join the registry. Participants could have been exposed to burn pits or not. They could be experiencing symptoms or not. Or, they could receive care from VA or not.
Helping to improve the care of your fellow veterans
For researchers, everyone eligible to join the registry has a unique experience critical in establishing empirical evidence. By signing up and answering brief questions about their health, veterans and active-duty service members are helping researchers understand the potential effects of exposure to burn pits and ultimately helping improve the care of their fellow veterans.
It is estimated that 3 million veterans and active-duty service members are eligible to join the registry. However, just over 173,000 have joined as of April 1, 2019, and 10 out of 100 have had the free, medical evaluation, which is important to confirm the self-reported data in the registry.
See what questions are asked
In hopes of encouraging more participation in the registry, VA is sharing a partial list of registry data collected from June 2014 through December 2018. This snapshot will give you a sense of the type of questions on the questionnaire as well as how the data is reported when shared with researchers and VA staff.
As a reminder, the registry is open to active-duty service members and most Veterans who deployed after 1990 to Southwest Asia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and Africa, among other places.
Check your eligibility and sign up.
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.