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DEGS: German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has been conducting the "German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults" (DEGS) since 2008. DEGS is part of the RKI's German health-monitoring programme. The aim of the survey is to collect data on the health and health determinants of the adult general population in Germany on a regular basis.

Characteristics of DEGS

The health data collected in DEGS are exceptionally valuable due to three key characteristics which are unique in this combination in Germany:

  • DEGS regularly provides nationally representative data which make it possible to describe the current health status of different subgroups of the adult general population in each wave (cross-sectional analyses) and to identify health trends by comparing age-adjusted prevalences across different time points (trend analyses).
  • DEGS derives its health data from personal interviews, physical examinations and analyses of blood and urine samples. This approach leads to more valid measurements and better estimates of disease prevalences.
  • DEGS furthermore has a panel design, i. e. participants are interviewed and given physical examinations repeatedly at multiple points in time. This provides insights into determinants that affect changes in health status during people's life-times (life-course analyses).

Robert Koch Institute's monitoring programme

The RKI is a Federal Institute within the portfolio of the German Federal Ministry of Health. One important task of the institute is to provide scientific evidence as a basis for political decision-making.

Comprehensive valid knowledge about the public health situation in Germany is fundamental for the evidence-based planning and evaluation of health policies and preventive activities. Such knowledge requires up-to-date and detailed data on the national health situation. Some data on the population's health can be derived from official statistics and health-insurance companies. But many important issues can only be investigated on the basis of personal interviews, physical examinations and analyses of blood and urine samples.  

The RKI therefore conducts regular representative health surveys in a national health-monitoring programme. DEGS, the "German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents" (KiGGS) and the "German Health Update" (GEDA), an annual interview survey.

KiGGS – German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents

GEDA – German Health Update

Information for public health and politics

In combination with other statistics, the health-monitoring data are a detailed and valid source of information for public health and health policy in Germany.

Information from health monitoring is regularly used in the RKI's health reporting and can be found in many publications.

European standardization

The Robert Koch Institute has been involved in European initiatives to standardize national health interview and examination surveys for many years. Methods of sampling and recruiting participants, as well as interviewing and measuring standards, comply exactly with European and international recommendations. The Robert Koch Institute therefore decided to participate in a pilot survey for a European Health Examination Survey (EHES) in 2011.

European Health Examination Survey (EHES)