Background: The German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults (DEGS) is part of the recently established national health monitoring conducted by the Robert Koch Institute. DEGS combines a nationally representative periodic health survey and a longitudinal study based on follow-up of survey participants. Funding is provided by the German Ministry of Health and supplemented for specific research topics from other sources.
Methods/design: The first DEGS wave of data collection (DEGS1) extended from November 2008 to December 2011. Overall, 8152 men and women participated. Of these, 3959 persons already participated in the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey 1998 (GNHIES98) at which time they were 18-79 years of age. Another 4193 persons 18-79 years of age were recruited for DEGS1 in 2008-2011 based on two-stage stratified random sampling from local population registries. Health data and context variables were collected using standardized computer assisted personal interviews, self-administered questionnaires, and standardized measurements and tests. In order to keep survey results representative for the population aged 18-79 years, results will be weighted by survey-specific weighting factors considering sampling and drop-out probabilities as well as deviations between the design-weighted net sample and German population statistics 2010.
Discussion: DEGS aims to establish a nationally representative data base on health of adults in Germany. This health data platform will be used for continuous health reporting and health care research. The results will help to support health policy planning and evaluation. Repeated cross-sectional surveys will permit analyses of time trends in morbidity, functional capacity levels, disability, and health risks and resources. Follow-up of study participants will provide the opportunity to study trajectories of health and disability. A special focus lies on chronic diseases including asthma, allergies, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes mellitus, and musculoskeletal diseases. Other core topics include vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization status, nutritional deficiencies, health in older age, and the association between health-related behavior and mental health.