Process for finding Statistics
- What is the subject matter? (larger question: disease type; economic; public health; etc.)
Often times it pays to plan what you are looking for in the form of a question. Finding statistics is part of the overall picture that will assist in supporting your cause. So it pays to think about the subject matter that you are seeking statistics on.
Are you looking for statistics on an illness? Infectious disease? Economic issue?
- What specific data are you seeking? (drill down: incidence rate; population; demographic; geographic; etc.)
Statistics can be challenging. The format of the available data may not be in the form that you are seeking. The answer could very well be right there, but you need to know how to weed out the data. Narrow your focus to specifics, for example: I'm looking for the incidence rate of breast cancer in women living on Long Island; I'm looking for the number of beds in X hospital; I'm looking for the affect of West Nile on X populations in X country.
In some cases, you might even have to resort to figuring out your answers. For example, say you are interested in the incidence rate - units for incidence rate are events/total population where the event takes place. For example:
Number of events / population at risk X 1000 or 100,000 = incidence rate.
The incidence rate is number that represents newly occurring events or diseases within a population.
- Once you've figured out what your specific stats target is, search it. (Think about who gathers this information?: See agencies and organizations below.)
Use the Web sites listed below or visit your library. Statistics are rarely current for the given year. If you have access to the internet you might get more current information - however, in the print world - statistics don't come out until 2 or 3 years after publishing. In order for stats to be correct, statisticians must compile and run the raw data. So, stats gathered in 2006 will/should be available to patrons the following year.
If the data is published on the Internet, chances are, statistics can be located as far off as a month - it just depends on how quickly the organization can gather the raw data, compile and publish the results.
- Reformulate your request if you haven't found anything on your topic, re-evaluate what you are looking for. Perhaps it's to specific? (Find secondary sources, for example, make phone calls, locate compilations of data, etc.)
You will not always arrive at a reasonable answer. You might have to extrapolate from the data you have. You might consider reformulating your request and try again to find information.
You should be thinking about the following sources when looking for stats:
- Other topical Web sites, textbooks, organizations or information
- Topical journal articles
Journal articles and / or books will open with glaring statistical information that might help your cause.
Sample places to locate statistics
- Government Web sites
- Associations or Organizations that would logically gather the statistics you are interested in
- Textbooks on the subject matter
- Journal articles
- Glossary of Statistical Terms, The John Crerar Library, University of Chicago
- Experimental Design and Statistics Terminology, Washington State University
- Hospitals & Health Facilities
- American Hospital Directory - Hospital statistics and information by state
- Health Services Research Evaluation: American Health Care Association
- Hospital Utilization, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC
- Data Council Gateway to Data and Statistics - Department of Health and Human Services
- HCUPnet - Hospital statistics and economic factors
- Medicare Length of Stay Statistics: Hospitals - WrongDiagnosis.com
- General Health, Disease, and Illness
- Morbidity & Mortality or Vital
- Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics
- Monthly Vital Statistics Reports
- MMWR: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
- Annual Summary MMWR (see sidebar MMWR)
- Surveillance Summaries MMWR (see sidebar MMWR)
- Recommendations and Reports: MMWR (see sidebar MMWR)
- Vital Statistics of the United States & Life Tables
- National Vital Statistics System
- Your Nursing Career: A Look at the Facts - American Association of College of Nurses
- Osteopathic Medical Education in the United States: Improving the Future of Medicine AACOM
- Costs & Expenditures
- US Census Bureau
- Demographic and health Surveys (Measure DHS)
- Demographic Yearbook - United Nations Statistics Division
- Weekly Epidemiological Record - WHO
Government Agencies and Organizations
Government organizations at all levels gather demographic, public health and epidemiological data for their given areas. Some of the national government sites provide statistics down to the state or local jurisdictions.
- Pennsylvania State or Local
- US or National
- Kaiser State Health Facts
- Centers for Disease Control
- US Census Bureau
- Department of Health & Human Services
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Earthtrends (World Resources Institute)
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
- International Toxicity Estimates for Risk Database (ITER)
- National Climate Datacenter (NOAA)
- NationMaster: World Statistics, Country Comparisons (includes US)
- Statistical Agencies (International) - US Census Bureau
- United Nations
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- World Health Organization Statistical Information System (WHO)
Private organizations that are specific to your topic can be consulted with via the Web. A sample of some of these organizations is listed below. The kind of data either describes their membership, incidence rates, morbidity or mortality. Searching the Internet can be a practical tool for locating information on organizations other than those listed below. Using Web sites may provide more current statistics than printed resources.
- American Medical Association
- American Hospital Association
- American Dental Association
- National League for Nursing
- American Nurses Association
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- American Cancer Society
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- American Heart Association
- Health Poll Search (Kaiser)
- Johns Hopkins University - a comprehensive list of selected online resources (Licensing restrictions apply for resources not available to Penn State users.)
Other Selected Statistical Information
- Penn State Population and Research Institute (Part of the Social Science Research Institute)
- Penn State Libraries Statistics - Quick Online Reference Resources
- Bureau of Labor Statistics - US Department of Labor
- Internet-based Health & Air Pollution Surveillance Systems (iHAPSS)
- USA.gov - the official Web site of the United States government