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MSU Program in Public Health: Looking for Data?

General guide for resources useful to the MSU Program in Public Health.

Public Health data and you, a users guide

Public Health is a data rich field, there are many sources for it.Here is a brief users guide to help ease into the exciting world of public health data.

Who collects public health data? Most ph data is collected by goverments of various levels, and NGOs or Non Govermental Organizations.  They use it to track the health of their communities and citizines, and often will be the only places to actually find information about populations. The positive of this is that much of this is freely available on the web.

When do I go to journals? Journal articles tend to focus on small subsets of groups with specific conditions or behaviors.  Journal articles are less about whole populations and large data sets, and more about mechanisms, treatment, programs, etc.  PubMed, CINAHL, and Global Health are the major databases you will want to search,

What is this ICD-10? Its the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision It is a way of creating a thesaurus for health conditions, a code to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to naming conventions for disease and causes of mortality and morbidity.  Use it to locate causes of mortality and morbidity in many data resources.

Its not there. Data is reliant on someone collecting it, and measuring specific factors.  It is common to have a reasonable sounding data question never having been collected by anyone.  Somethings are simply not tracked, or if they have been collected they are rare enough that they may be suppressed to protect individuals identity.

Is this the most recent there is?  There can be quite a lag time bewteen collection of data, and it being made available.  Also, not all potential sources of data are measured annualy, or even frequently.  It is not uncommon to have the most recent data be several years old.

Health Sciences Librarian

Abraham Wheeler's picture
Abraham Wheeler
MSU Libraries

366 W. Circle Drive WG-1D

East Lansing, MI 48824

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