Finding and Using Health Statistics
Finding Health Statistics Exercises
Search by Organization or Resource
- Identify the type of data you need to answer your research question. Do you need:
- A numerical statistic or fact, such as prevalence rates, mortality rates, or other health indicators?
- A complete data set for independent analysis?
- A chart or figure?
- What is the geographic scope of your data needs?
- Are you looking for county, state, nationwide, or global health data?
- Identify one or more organizations/agencies that are likely to collect or share the information you are interested in. (ex: The National Center for Health Statistics compiles statistics on virtually all aspects of health and health care, from chronic conditions and risk factors, to insurance and utilization. This is often a good place to start for U.S. health statistics.)
- Look for a tab or link that says “Data”, “Statistics”, “Research”, etc. on the organization’s homepage.
- Alternatively, identify a specific resource (such as any of those listed in this section) that answers your particular research need. (ex: You want to compare various measures of health status between several states. Visit Kaiser’s State Health Facts.)
This section provides an introduction to some of the major organizations and government agencies that collect and provide health statistics as well as search strategies for finding the right resources.
- National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
The NCHS has a mission to provide statistical data to improve the health of the American people.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO is a part of the United Nations. They act as leaders in worldwide health situations.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
The AHRQ is an agency in the United States, dedicated to making American health care higher quality, safer, more efficient, and more effective.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC is the primary public health institute of the United States. They provide data on health care and disease.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings is an online application with the health status of almost every county in the United States.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
The CMS is a US government agency that works with individual states to provide Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
- Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit that offers research, journalism, and communications programs with a focus on health care.
- United States Census Bureau
The Census Bureau is the best source of current data and statistics on the US population and economy
HealthData.gov is an online source for health-related data. It is constantly being updated, and includes thousands of data sets that can be downloaded.
- Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
Website with data and resources about health care markets, divided into geographic areas.
Continue on, to explore each of these sources with hands-on exercises.