Finding data sources and effectively using statistics are of vital importance as national, state, and local public health departments are called upon to respond quickly to ever more pressing emergencies. Technology has markedly improved access to public health statistics. These statistics are derived from data sets which are collections of logically related data arranged in a prescribed manner. Data may represent information collected at the national, state or local levels. Includes counts of individual health related events or services and a second category of data sets describes populations through the use of sampling techniques.
Health statistics are influenced by an organization’s perspective and bias. These biases can affect the collection device and eventual outcomes that are reported. They also can determine what data are collected and how the data are collected. Whenever possible, read the notes describing the reasons for and methods of data collection. Remember that statistics are collected to meet the needs of the collector.