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Health Statistics

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Health statistics share some characteristics that make identification and retrieval a challenge. These characteristics of data collection and analysis include the following:

  • Decentralized, paralleling the health care system the statistics are intended to measure
  • Expensive in terms of funding and personnel
  • Variable in collection methods, period or place of collection
  • Substantial gap between time of collection and analysis and time of distribution to researchers
  • Difficult to describe using subject headings.

These factors influence who is likely to collect, analyze and publish the data as well as the development of your search strategy.

When you look for appropriate journal articles and books to fill your information needs, you are using familiar secondary sources such as catalogs and indexes. In view of the problems of identifying health statistics with these tools, you will make more effective use of your time by going directly to the source rather than beginning with the secondary tools. Going directly to the source is also a good idea when you use the Web for your research. Your evaluative skills of any Web resource are important here too. For a review of the criteria, see Evaluation of Internet Resources.


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