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Health Data & Statistics Research Guide: Starting Your Search

Some General Search Tips

Before you start your search, consider the following questions:

1. What's your focus or unit of analysis? 

Are you interested in studying a particular population (i.e., mothers, Native Americans, children under the age of 8)? Are you interested in a specific disease or geographic area? Do you need data from certain years? Thinking about this will clarify the kind of data you're looking for, and also what organizations might collect it.

2. Are there government agencies, NGOs, or nonprofits that are interested in this area?

Government agencies collect an incredible amount of health data every year, and most of them also publish health statistics to inform the public. To see a list of some of the best places to find data and statistics on health, see the Major Producers of Health Statistics box below. Because these agencies and organizations collect data on many different health topics, you may have to explore their websites a bit to find what you are looking for. 

3. Have other scholars done research on similar topics? Where did they get their data or statistics? 

If you aren't sure what organizations might have the kind of data or statistics you're looking for, you can search the health literature for articles on similar topics. Look in the citations to see where those authors got their data or stats from, and then look up those organizations or sources to see if they have what you need.  

4. Is there a library guide on this topic?

The MSU librarians have created a number of guides on how to find data and statistics, including this one. You can see a complete list of MSU library guides here, or go to the first page of this guide for links to our statistics and data guides. 

 

Major Producers of Health Statistics

Governments and NGOs collect a huge amount of health data yearly. They often also analyze and publish the data in the form of statistics. Below you'll find the major agencies that collect health data for the US government, as well as one (the World Health Organization) that collects data for member states around the world. Each organization collects data on many different topics, so it's worth using their sites as your first stop when looking for datasets or statistics. 

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.

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.

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

DHHS is the umbrella agency under which most national health data and statistics programs operate.

United Nations

The United Nations is the world's primary international political organization. As part of its mission, it collects data on many aspects of life in its member states, including health. 

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization is the world's primary international public health organization. Similar to the United Nations, it is governed by an Assembly where all member states have representatives, and it collects data on health in its member states. 

Statistical Indexes & Databases

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