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

Identifing the reference population of a health statistics
  1. Select an indicator from among the ones discussed earlier in the course
  2. Identify the major study that generates the most important information for this indicator and one or two other studies that also have data on it.
  1. For each study, identify the reference population represented in reporting the indicator. Consider
    • When the data were collected
    • Who was included and who was not included
      • Householders
      • Institutionalized people
      • Those in certain age groups [for example, children, adults, the elderly]
      • What geographic area was covered
      • Was the study limited to those receiving treatment or care or was it a general population study?
  2. Contrast the different sources and identify the impact of differences in the reference population on the results reported.
  3. Extend your review to the amount of detailed descriptive information available about the population covered.
    • Can it be divided into groups or are estimates only available for the entire population
  4. What is the impact of these differences on the results and inferences you can make about health conditions, correlates, care and consequences?