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Michigan State University

Health Data & Statistics Research Guide: U.S. Goverment Data

Mapping and Uses of Census Data

U.S. Government Data

Department of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is a cabinet-level executive agency of the United States Government.  It is tasked to protect the health and provide human services for all Americans.  This is the federal organization under which almost all health related data and statistics are produced. 

DHHS is divided into 11 different agencies:

  1. Administration for Children & Families
  2. Administration on Aging
  3. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
  4. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease
  5. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  6. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  7. Food & Drug Administration
  8. Health Resources & Services Administration
  9. Indian Health Service
  10. National Institutes of Health
  11. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The DHHS Data Council coordinates all data collection activities within the department.  They have provided an excellent resource that lists all data collection and analysis programs for each sub agency of the department: the Directory of Health and Human Services Data Resources lists every major survey/study/data collection initiative.

Some of the most prominent studies include:

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
    "The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly since 1984."
  • Medical Expenditure Panel Survey  
    "The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) is a set of large-scale surveys of families and individuals, their medical providers, and employers across the United States. MEPS is the most complete source of data on the cost and use of health care and health insurance coverage."
  • National Health Interview Survey
    "The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has monitored the health of the nation since 1957. NHIS data on a broad range of health topics are collected through personal household interviews.  Survey results have been instrumental in providing data to track health status, health care access, and progress towards achieving national health care objectives."
  • National Vital Statistics System
    "The National Vital Statistics System is the oldest and most successful example of inter-governmental data sharing in Public Health and the shared relationships, standards, and procedures form the mechanism by which NCHS collects and disseminates the Nation's official vital statistics. These data are provided through contracts between NCHS and vital registration systems operated in the various jurisdictions legally responsible for the registration of vital events – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the largest producer of data out of all the other DHHS agencies.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is an agency of the CDC.  NCHS is the U.S. government’s principal vital and health statistics agency.  Major NCHS data systems and surveys include:

Other Government Agencies

Although the DHHS is the main producer of government health data, there are other government agencies that report on health-related data.  For example:

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