Michigan State University

Health Data & Statistics Research Guide: Comprehensive Sources

Getting Started with Health Statistics

Statistical Indexes & Databases

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Introduction: About this Research Guide

Sources of statistical information are held throughout the Michigan State University Libraries. This guide is not comprehensive; rather, it provides information on a selection of some of the most important general sources. This guide includes both freely available WWW resources as well as library subscription resources and print materials.

Please ask at the Main Library Reference Desk (floor 1 Center) if you need further assistance, or contact the authors of this guide (listed to your right).

Major Producers of Health Statistics

The U.S. Government collects a huge amount of health data.  Agency websites serve as portals to finding health statistics on all kinds of topics, so they make a great starting place in your search for statistical information.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Statistical Compendiums

This is a sample of reference books that provide comprehensive overviews of health statistics.  Be sure to check table source notes and appendixes for pointers to additional and more in-depth information.

Statistical Abstract of the United States - U.S. Census Bureau
Call number: C 3.134: or HA202. Print copies available 1878-present in multiple locations.
An annual publication offering statistics from federal agencies and numerous state, local, and non-governmental statistics.
Pertinent sections include:
      Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorces
      Health & Nutrition




Health, United States - National Center for Health Statistics
Call number: HE 20.7042/6:  Latest edition available at Main Library Reference, 1 Center. 
Annual report charts trends in health statistics.  Includes a "chartbook" section featuring a special topic each year.




Healthy People 2010 - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Print publications available in Government Documents, 3 West.
A statement of national health objectives.  Healthy People 2010 presents 467 objectives to improve the health of Americans by the year 2010.  These health indicators are measured and tracked.



Health statistics: an annotated bibliographic guide to information sources - Medical Library Association and Scarecrow Press
Call Number: Z7553.M43 W444 1997 Main Library Reference, 1 East.
Although outdated, this book is still useful for identifying agencies and producers of information.




Portrait of Health in the United States - Daniel Melnick & Beatrice Rouse
Presents a picture of American health using a variety of measures ranging from self-perceived health status and reported acute and chronic health conditions to more objective measures such as life expectancy, medical diagnosis, hospitalization statistics, and death rates.
This book was published in 2001, the chapter introductions and data explanations are still useful.


Health Sciences Librarian

Abraham Wheeler
MSU Libraries

366 W. Circle Drive WG-1D

East Lansing, MI 48824


skype me@ awheeler.msu
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