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Health Statistics : Setting the context for the statistics

Setting the context

The health statistics you've worked so hard to find are difficult to interpret without information on the nation's population. Go directly to the Census Bureau and select American Factfinder from the Data tab at the top of the page.  Factfinder provides access to place specific data from both the 2010 decennial census and the American Community Survey.  The American Community Survey (ACS) takes the place of the Population and Housing Census which was also conducted every ten years.  To provide more accurate estimates, the American Community Survey is undertaken every year with estimates given in 1-, 3- and 5-year increments depending on the size of the place.  You may enter the name of a city or county or zip code in the Community Facts box.  The resulting page will provide links to more detailed tables.

Advanced Search in American Factfinder offers access to data for geographic areas smaller than zip codes which might be an important consideration for your community assessment.  One option is the census tract, an area encompassing several blocks.  

After adding the census tract to “Your Selections,” you’re ready to click on Topics to select the data you want.

The University Libraries offers access to two databases, Social Explorer and PolicyMap, which provide data as well as an interactive mapping feature to visualize the data.  Social Explorer connects to demographic data from the US Decennial Census of Population and Housing and the American Community Survey as well as religion data.  The database’s coverage begins in 1790 and continues to the present.  The information is updated annually.

The PolicyMap gives users access to over 10,000 indicators related to demographics, housing, income, crime, mortgages, health and jobs.  Data is based on geographic entities such as block group, census tract, zip code, county, city, state, and metro area.  Results may be displayed in four formats:  interactive map, table, chart, or report.  PolicyMap draws from 45 public sources and 20 proprietary sources.  While database coverage for the indicators varies, it is continuous from 2004 to the present for many data sources.  Frequency of updating depends on the source. 

You can also make your own comparisons among the states or between state health statistics and national data, by using Kaiser Family Foundation's State Health Facts Online.

 

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