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

Finding Data on Access to Care
In this exercise, you are asked to apply what you have learned to support research you are doing on access to care.

Assume that you are working on a report or conducting research on access to care in your local community.

In this research you are trying to find out:
  1. How many people lack health insurance?
  2. How many people have visited a health care provider in the past year?
  3. What is the principal source of primary care that they use?
  4. How does this differ by age, gender, income and ethnicity?
  5. What effect does it have on the health status of the people who you observe?
  1. To support your observations and research you need to establish a baseline—the standard against which you can compare the people who you observed.
  2. The task is to locate statistical information that will help you to do this.
  3. Begin by identifying the agencies and data collections that report on access to care and insurance status.
    • Try the Current Population Survey at the Census Bureau and the National Health Interview Survey at NCHS
  4. Next search the literature for related reports [try Pub Med, MMWR and Health United States]
  5. Compare the results that you find from various sources
  6. Use them to define a baseline for your own observations
  1. Which of these sources of baseline data was most useful?
  2. Which one provided the most relevant detail?
  3. How did the results reported in government publications differ from those reported in the literature?
  4. What approximations and assumptions will you need to make to overcome the limits of the available statistical data as you analyze your own observations?