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Library Research Guides

Public Health - Undergraduate Program

Resources for students in the undergraduate public health program.

Health Statistics

For more health statistics, see 1) the Health Statistics research guide, which is divided into sections such as Health Indicators (obesity, physical activity, mental health), Environmental (location, disease-specific), Economics (Medicare, Medicaid), specific populations, & more & 2) the Data & Statistics page of the Global Health research guide.

You might think that data and statistics have the same meaning, but they don't.  There is an important distinction between the terms. Data is the raw information; statistics is the interpretation of data.

Here are some questions to think about when you're looking for statistics.

  • Do you know/can you guess who might collect the data necessary to produce the statistics?  All kinds of organizations--government agency, non-governmental organization, a professional association--collect & share statistics.  In this case, going directly to the relevant organization is a good tactic.
  • Do you know who might publish the statistics?  As above, thinking about who might need these statistics can lead you to the source.
  • Do you think that the statistics will be readily available?  Sometimes statistics are collected, but not published.  Leads to statistics can be found in journal articles, their references, & image captions.
  • Do you need statistics for a particular time and place?  Remember that data takes time to analyze, so if you need current statistics, you won't find them.  A 2-3-year lag in publication is standard.  And not all data is gathered for all locations, even for governmental agencies, as they depend on the states to provide the data.