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

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Perspectives also shape how frequently health statistics series are reported.

The decisions regarding when to collect and report indicators of health status, care or consequences depend on a number of factors including:
  • Resources available to field the collection
  • Assumptions about how rapidly conditions change and the balance between the care and detail of data collection and frequency of collection
    • If a data collector believes that conditions are stable—for example that the incidence of a condition is genetically determined so that environmental or behavioral factors have a very slight impact, it might be advisable to invest in an elaborate procedure to collect prevalence data and use it for several decades. On the other hand, if the condition is attributed to an infectious agent, frequent data collections are needed to monitor change.

Agencies that collect data must decide which types of data to collect. These choices are constrained by
  • Their budgets
  • The availability of staff to conduct the work and do the analysis
  • Priorities based on perceived urgency of emerging threats and
  • Assessments of the likelihood of meaningful response
  • How fast do conditions change
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