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Public Health Resources

Countway Library is dedicated to supporting the research interests of our students and investigators in the varied fields of Public Health.

What is Epidemiology?

Intro to Epidemiology:

"The word epidemiology comes from the Greek words epi, meaning on or upon, demos, meaning people, and logos, meaning the study of. In other words, the word epidemiology has its roots in the study of what befalls a population. Many definitions have been proposed, but the following definition captures the underlying principles and public health spirit of epidemiology: Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to the control of health problems." / Last JM, editor. Dictionary of epidemiology. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2001. p. 61

CDC What is epidemiology?

What is Epidemiology? Changing definitions of epidemiology 1978-2017

Introduction to Epidemiology

National Resources:

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Several projects are underway including the Heathcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) & interactive tool for hospital statistics, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the Healthcare Informatics Standards, and the HIV & AIDS Cost & Use with an interactive tool for statistics on use of HIV/AIDS resources.
    Some of the reports available under Research Findings will also provide some statistical data. Information on specific nursing research and clinical data is also available.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
    1. Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (IIF) program
    2. Employee-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
  3. navigation to two existing sites, and is the home of the Federal Data Strategy, with information about the strategy, the Action Plan, and progress toward the Action Plan items, as determined by the Office of Management and Budget. is an online repository of tools, best practices, and schema standards to facilitate adoption of open data practices. The site is a joint effort of OMB, the Office of Government Information Services of the National Archives, and GSA, as required by the OPEN Government Data Act. Outdated content is archived. Datasets are not affected, as the catalog is continually updated automatically by harvesting metadata maintained by the contributing agencies. Under the OPEN Government Data Act, federal agencies maintain comprehensive inventories of their data assets that are harvested into the federal data catalog, Progress on agency data inventories can be tracked on this dashboard. Overall progress on the Federal Data Strategy is reported on
  4. Healthy People 2020 Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. 
  5. Department of Health and Human Services - Guide to Surveys and Data Resources The Guide to HHS Surveys and Data Resources is a compilation of information about all major data collection systems sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
    1. Guide to HHS Surveys and Data Resources
    3. Directory of Health and Human Services Data Resources
    4. HRSA - Health Resources and Services Administration the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable.
  6. Center for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics
    1. Atlas of United States Mortality
    2. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
    3. National Center for Health Statistics The Data Warehouse for all government related health and medical statistics and surveys - as well as links to other agencies outside the US government that have more information.
    4. Healthy People Program data is available on Statics & Surveillance and an interactive database system (DATA2010) which contains the most recent monitoring data for tracking Healthy People 2010.
    5. CDC Data & Statistics
    6. CDC Wonder
    7. Epi Info Epi Info™ and a personal computer, epidemiologists and other public health and medical professionals can rapidly develop a questionnaire or form, customize the data entry process, and enter and analyze data. Epidemiologic statistics, tables, graphs, and maps are produced with simple commands such as READ, FREQ, LIST, TABLES, GRAPH, and MAP. Epi Map displays geographic maps with data from Epi Info™.
    8. FastSTATS A-Z
    9. Health, United States
    10. Monthly Vital Statistics Report
    11. National Mortality Fallback Survey
    12. National Survey of Family Growth
    13. National Vital Statistics Reports
    14. Chronic Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Includes statistics.
    15. Health Data Interactive
    16. Health-Related Quality of Life
    17. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey - NHANES
    18. National Health Interview Survey - NHIS
    19. WISQARS™ ["whiskers"] "Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System is an interactive system that provides customized injury-related mortality data useful for research and for making informed public health decisions"; from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  7. Data.Census.Gov
    1. State and County Quickfacts Quick, easy access to facts about people, business, and geography. Includes data for all cities of at least 25,000 people.
    2. American Community Survey A new nationwide survey designed to provide estimates of demographic, housing, social, and economic characteristics every year for all states, as well as for all cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and population groups of 65,000 people or more.
  8. Kaiser Family Foundation's State Health Facts Online Includes information on health insurance coverage, HIV/AIDS, minorities, health providers, and women's health.
  9. Institute of Education Science
  10. National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology NICHSR NLM meta-site for: Associations, Data Sets & Sources, Federal Agencies, Epidemiology & Health Stats, Evidence Based Medicine & Health Technology Assessment, Funding, Health Economics & Policy, Informatics, Rural Health, and State Health
  11. NIH National Institutes of Health Institute List
    1. NCI Cancer Atlas
    2. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Cancer Statistics, NCI
    3. Women of Color Health Information Collection NIH from the Office of Research on Women's Health.



  1. Massachusetts Cities & Towns
  2. Environmental Epidemiology Program |
  3. Mass Facts
  4. Analyze Boston
  5. CrimeSOLV Sites
  6. Massachusetts Department of Correction
  7. Boston: Census 2010 Publications
  8. Massachusetts Census
  9. Office of Data Management and Outcomes Assessment
  10. MA Dept of Public Health
  11. Boston Planning & Development Agency: Boston's Neighborhoods


Historic resources:

  1. The National Historic Geographic Information System The most comprehensive source of both Census data and GIS files for all census in the US (that's right - all the way back to 1790!)
  2. Selected Historical Census
  3. Statistical Abstract of the United States*Discontinued Resource by the GPO* Contains a collection of statistics (at the county, state, & country level) on social and economic conditions in the United States. Selected international data are also included. It also highlights sources of other data from the Census Bureau, other Federal agencies, and private organizations.


Other Resources

  1. Countway Library Center for the History of Medicine
  2. Harvard Chan Epidemiology funding and seminars
  3. Finding and Using Health Statistics: A Self-Study Course By Dan Melnick, PhD; from the National Library of Medicine.
  4. What is Epidemiology? Changing definitions of epidemiology 1978-2017
  5. Healthy Heart Score developed by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) gives individuals an easy method to estimate their 20-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) based on simple lifestyle habits. The free web-based survey, which will be found at, also gives users practical tips for improving their scores by incorporating heart-healthy habits into their daily lives.
  6. ICPSR An international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community.
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