This guide provides a starting point for researchers using health-related numeric data. It includes information on Harvard electronic and print resources and other web-based resources.

Web Based Data Resources

National Center for Health Statistics
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the nation’s principal health statistics agency. Data are collected from birth and death records, medical records, interviews, direct physical exams and laboratory testing. The site contains a link to “FASTATS A-Z” which allows the user to search for health statistics by topic. The site provides both summary-level and micro-level data. Data from the following studies and surveys is available on the NCHS website:

  • Health, United States
  • National Health Interview Survey
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
  • National Health Care Survey
  • National Vital Statistics System
  • National Immunization Survey
  • National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey
  • National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey
  • National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery
  • National Hospital Discharge Survey
  • National Nursing Home Survey
  • National Home and Hospice Care Survey
  • National Employer Health Insurance Survey
  • National Health Provider Inventory

Centers for Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the federal agency that is responsible for developing and applying disease prevention and control, and preparing health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States. Links to data and information on the following surveys and studies available on the CDC website include:

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System
  • Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System
  • Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance
  • WISQARS- (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System)

CDC Wonder
This site provides links to a wide variety of reports and numeric public health data. Topics include chronic diseases, communicable diseases, environmental health, health practice and prevention, injury prevention, and occupational health.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) publishes evidence-based information on health care outcomes; quality; and cost, use, and access. Data available on this site include:

  • Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
  • Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)
  • HIV and AIDS Costs and Use (HIVnet)

Area Resource File
Contains data relating to county descriptor codes, health professions data, health facility and health training data, population and economic data, and limited data on vital statistics, industry, housing, expenditure and environmental factors for all counties within the United States (except Alaska).

Beneficiary/Non-Beneficiary Files
The CMS also publishes Beneficiary and Non-Beneficiary files and Cost Reports that are available for purchase. Some of these files are restricted and a Data User Agreement will have to be completed before the data is released. These files contain data relating to county and zip code enrollment, provider and hospital services, physician/supplier procedure and healthcare cost reports.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the federal agency that collects and disseminates data related mainly to labor economics, they do publish studies and surveys on their website that ask health, occupational illness, workplace injuries and health insurance related questions:

  • National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
  • National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Mature Women
  • National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men and Older Men
  • Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities

Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC)
The mission of this independent research organization is to “inform health care decision makers about changes in the health care system at both the local and national levels and the effects of such changes on people.” The center designs studies and collects and disseminates the data in the form of summary-level data (data bulletins) on their site. Recent Data Bulletin subjects have included physician income, tracking health care costs, and individuals most likely to change health care plans. The center also publishes the data in a micro-level format available through the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

Health Data Tools and Statistics
Comprehensive list of links to local, state, national and international health statistics and data sets. Provided by Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce, a collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations and health sciences librarians.

Incidence and Prevalence Database (Harvard E-resource)
Provides epidemiological and market research data related to healthcare products and services. Covers over 4,500 diagnoses and procedures, providing data on epidemiology (incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality), census results, cost analysis, and concomitant diseases.

Integrated Health Interview Series
The Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS) from the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota is a harmonized set of data and documentation based on material originally included in the public use files of the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and distributed for free over the internet. NHIS is the principal source of information on the health of the U.S. population, covering such topics as general health status, the distribution of acute and chronic illness, functional limitation, access to and use of medical services, and insurance coverage.  The IHIS facilitates cross-time comparisons of these invaluable survey data by coding variables identically across time. 

Internet Crossroads in Social Science Data
The University of Wisconsin Data and Program Library Service publishes the Internet Crossroads in Social Science Data (Crossroads) webpage that contains over 1,000 links to worldwide data resources. Users may enter keywords in the search function or browse through the topic related links. The Health link provides over 50 health related data resources, both national and international in scope.

Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is an independent organization that collects and publishes health care data. Three of its main research focuses are Health Policy, Media and Public Education, and Health and Development in South Africa. There is also a link for State Health Facts. The site provides both a “search” and a “browse by topic” option.

Medicare/Medicaid Data Compendium
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes this annual compendium that contains data relating to Medicare enrollment and Medicaid recipients, expenditures, utilization, budget, and administrative and operating costs.

Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program
SEER is a program of the National Cancer Institute. Statistics available from this site include tables, graphs and maps of cancer incidence, mortality, prevalence, and the probability of developing or dying from cancer.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The US Department of Health and Human Services collects and publishes data related to health, disability, human services, and science.