National Center for Health Statistics

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National Center for Health Statistics
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Hyattsville, MD
Agency executive Edward J. Sondik, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Health Statistics
Parent agency United States Department of Health and Human Services
Website National Center for Health Statistics

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System which provides statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people.

NCHS is housed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is headquartered at University Town Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.

History[edit]

In 1960, the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey merged to form the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NCHS is one of 13 principal statistical agencies in the federal government. The Center has been located in a number of organizations within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and since 1987 has been part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Collaborating with other public and private health partners, NCHS employs a variety of data collection mechanisms to obtain accurate information from multiple sources. This process provides a broad perspective to help us understand the population’s health, influences on its health, and health outcomes. We[who?] collect data from birth and death records, medical records, interview surveys, and through direct physical examinations and laboratory testing.

NCHS Data Collection Programs[edit]

There are four major data collection programs at NCHS:

National Vital Statistics System[edit]

The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) collects official vital statistics data based on the collection and registration of birth and death events at the state and local levels. NCHS works in partnership with the vital registration systems in each jurisdiction to produce critical information on such topics as teenage births and birth rates, prenatal care and birth weight, risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, infant mortality rates, leading causes of death, and life expectancy.

National Health Interview Survey[edit]

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) provides information on the health status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population through confidential interviews conducted in households by Census Bureau interviewers. NHIS is the Nation’s largest in-person household health survey, providing data on health status, access to and use of health services, health insurance coverage, immunizations, risk factors, and health-related behaviors.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey[edit]

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is NCHS' most in-depth and logistically complex survey, operating out of mobile examination centers that travel to randomly selected sites throughout the country to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans. This survey combines personal interviews with standardized physical examinations, diagnostic procedures, and laboratory tests to obtain information about diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions; growth and development, including overweight and obesity; diet and nutrition; risk factors; and environmental exposures.

National Health Care Surveys[edit]

The National Health Care Surveys provide information about the organizations and providers that supply health care, the services they render, and the patients they serve. Provider sites surveyed include physician offices, community health centers, ambulatory surgery centers, hospital outpatient and emergency departments, inpatient hospital units, residential care facilities, nursing homes, home health care agencies, and hospice organizations. The National Health Care Surveys are used to study resource use, including staffing; quality of care, including patient safety; clinical management of specific conditions; disparities in the use and quality of care; and diffusion of health care technologies, including drugs, surgical procedures, and information technologies.

Other Data Collection Programs[edit]

In addition to its major data collection programs, NCHS fulfills its mission by conducting targeted surveys and augmenting survey data where possible. They conduct the National Survey of Family Growth, that obtains information on factors affecting birth and pregnancy rates, adoptions, and maternal and infant health, and supplements the information obtained on birth certificates collected through the National Vital Statistics System. Our State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) allows us to produce state-level data on such topics as the health of children with special needs, to meet the data needs of our colleagues in HHS’ Maternal and Child Health Bureau and elsewhere. We conduct the National Immunization Survey in collaboration with our CDC Atlanta colleagues. NCHS periodically conducts longitudinal components to our major ongoing surveys, and we use our National Death Index to create a “longitudinal” component to our routine data systems. In our Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory, we[who?] develop and test data collection instruments for use in NCHS data collections and for surveys conducted by other federal agencies and research organizations.[citation needed]

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