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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

SOCIAL PROCESSES OF DATA COLLECTION
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Context
Each source of health statistics is set in its own social context. This context creates expectations and these in turn form the institutional setting for the collection, compilation and reporting of statistical results.

Although each data collection addresses these institutional and social constraints in different ways, it is possible to summarize the kinds of factors that shape resulting information.

Effect on Measures
It is important to understand that rather than measuring health directly, each method creates a construct—an intellectual artifact of the social interaction—that can be used to create indicators related to health.

Each indicator is constrained by the uncertainty inherent in the specification of the part of the population covered, the method of selecting elements from which to infer generalities, the design of measures, the assignment of weights and the particular analyses reported.
 
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