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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Health statistics and where to find them

Conducting empirical research in the area of health law? Check out the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The NCHS is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and considered the Nation's principal health statistics agency. The Center is a public resource for health information with the main purpose to compile statistical information to guide actions and public health policies.

The website allows access to the NCHS factsheets through the so-called “FastStats” site, covering the wide range of information and data made available by the NCHS; “data briefs”, statistical publications that provide information about current public health topics, and the Center’s extensive library of online and print publications. 

In addition two links are worth mentioning – one that leads to the data systems and surveys where it is possible to retrieve data that is being collected on an ongoing basis, and another one named “librarians”. The so-called “resources for librarians” is a sub site that conveniently lists numerous resources, for example tutorials, which guide you through preparing an analytic dataset, and explaining the nuances of the survey design, medical coding classifications, listservs and the Research Data Center (RDC).            

The RDC website was developed by the NCHS with the goal to allow researchers access to data that does not appear in the public use files of data collected by the Center. Restricted variables are those that could compromise the confidentiality of survey respondents like geography, genetic data, and detailed race/ethnicity, and access to this data requires the researcher to submit a proposal to the RDC and comply with the process.  

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