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Health Data

Overall Page on Health Data

Getting Started

This guide is provides links to sources of data and statistics collected and provided by numerous organizations and agencies.  You can find potential sources of data and statistics by topic area.  Health data and statistics can be difficult to find. Some of the things that make this so challenging are:

  • Health data collection is decentralized, and carried out by many different government, non-governmental and private agencies and organizations.  This will include organizations working at the national, state and local levels.  Data quality, collection methodology and accessibility will vary considerably.
  • Data collection and dissemination takes time and resources.  There is often a lag time between collection and availability, and thus real-time data can be difficult to come by.
  • Collection of health data in the United States is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Thus, finding reliable data prior to 1956, when the National Health Survey was established, will take time and may involve consulting primary resources.  You can also search the scholarly literature to find any studies that may have already done this ground work for you. 

Reference: Health Statistics, The University of Chicago Library,

Getting Started with Health Statistics

Getting Started with Health Statistics



Finding and Using Health Statistics

Data vs. Statistics

"Data" and "Statistics" are two words that we tend to use interchangeably and yet they refer to 2 very different things.  Data is the raw information from which statistics are created.  Statistics, in turn, provide a summary of data. For more about data vs. statistics, check out this guide.

Important Sources for Data and Statistics

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

DHHS is the umbrella agency under which most national health data and statistics programs operate.  These include the CDC, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), among others.

DataFinder: Topical access to health and human services related data from NHHS, other federal agencies, states and local governments.

Centers for Diseases Control (CDC)

The CDC is a part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and is the primary federal agency for public health.

Data and Statistics: This is the starting point for health statistics from the CDC.  Browse by topic, view publications, and links to interactive tools, surveys and more.

Health Data Interactive: Customizable tables for national health statistics covering topics in health status, health care, conditions, insurance, mortality, life expectancy, birth, pregnancy, risk factors and disease prevention.

CDC Wonder: A portal to several CDC databases concerning health-related topics for public health information and numerical data sets such as AIDS/STDs, risk behaviors (the Behavioral Risk Surveillance System), mortality and natality statistics.

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

The NCHS is the nation's principal health statistics agency.  It is a unit of the CDC.  The NCHS homepage is also a central point for health statistics browseable by topic, links to surveys, publications, and other online tools.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization is an agency of the United Nations and is an international coordinating agency for public health.

Data and Statistics: Major WHO databases include the Global Health Observatory (national statistics for health indicators), WHO Global Infobase Online (chronic diseases and risk factors), and the Global Health Atlas.  Data is also accessible by topical categories.

Household Surveys of Health

National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

The NHIS has been conducted since 1957 by the National Center for health statistics [NCHS] and its predecessor agency. The survey collects data from a large representative sample of households in the United States. NHIS is “the principal source of information on the health of the civilian non-institutionalized population of the United States.” It includes data on health status, care, demography and behaviors.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The BRFSS consists of a series of state based household surveys conducted by state health departments with technical assistance and support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

The NSDUH is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. The survey tracks substance abuse and mental health of the non-institutionalized population of the United States.

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