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Finding Health Statistics Online

Health statistics are available for an enormous number of topics and from a variety of sources. It is important to understand these statistics and where to locate them.

Answers to the following questions can help you locate and evaluate health statistics sites.

1. What are health statistics?

Health related statistics include statistics on illnesses, injuries, health facilities and health personnel, as well demographic, crime, and life-style statistics.

2. Where do you find health statistics?

Check web sites of organizations, groups, or non-profit associations that might collect statistics on the topic such as the National Cancer Institute or the American Lung Association. Other places to look include online health statistics gateways such as MedlinePlus or CDC Wonder or other CDC statistical resources which list a variety of sources, or search engines such as Google. Also, consider searching journal article databases such as PubMed or NC LIVE to find articles that include statistics and check the cited sources.

3. Who is behind the information on the site?

Government agencies and health organizations around the world are reputable sources for statistics in the areas they govern or cover. Look for an "About Us" page.

4. Is the information current?

Data collection and analysis is often slow, and expensive, which means different sites cover different years and topics even when they have the same overall focus.

5. How should health statistics be evaluated?

Health statistics are gathered for a variety of reasons. Along with knowing who gathered the data, it is useful to look at why they gathered the statistics, and what collection methods were used.

6. What are data sets?

Data sets contain the raw information collected and are available in a variety of formats. Some are downloadable, and others can be queried online. Be sure to read the Help files.

7. What are statistics?

Once the data sets have been analyzed and formatted in a variety of ways, such as tables, graphs, and charts, they are called statistics.

8. What are statistical research summaries?

These summaries are published results of primary or secondary research.

9. Are all data sets and statistics free on the Internet?

No, for various reasons, including privacy concerns, some statistics must be purchased from the provider.

10. Need more information?

For more details see the Finding Health Statistics Online module from the University of Michigan or the Health Sciences Library at UNC-Chapel Hill's Health Statistics pages.

11. Would you like to print this information?

Use the print feature in your browser to obtain a numbered list of hyperlinks that correspond to the hyperlinked text.

Page authored by Julia Shaw-Kokot, Health Sciences Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.