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Library Resources for the UC-HBCU Summer Research Program in Social Determinants of Health: Information About Your Community

Know Your Community: Statistical Information

What to consider when looking at survey or estimated data:

Adopted from information on the UCSF Family Health Outcomes Project web site

  • Look at sample sizes and survey response rates - representative of your population? Enough responses to be valid?
  • Who was surveyed? - representative of population being compared to? Include group you are interested in?
  • Were the survey respondants from heterogeneous groups? Do the survey questions have a similar meaning to members of different groups?
  • How was survey conducted? Via telephone? - Many people only have cell phones. Random selection or targeted group?
  • What assumptions and methods were used for extrapolating the data?
  • Look at definitions of characteristics - Does this match your own definitions?
  • When was the data collected?
Reliability and validity:

Adopted from Chapter 3, Conducting research literature reviews: from the Internet to paper, by Arlene Fink; Sage, 2010.
  Reliable data collection: relatively free from "measurement error."
  » Is the survey written at a reading level too high for the people completing it?
  » If I measure something today, then measure it again tomorrow using the same scale, will it vary? Why?
  Validity refers to how well a measure assesses what it claims to measure
  » If the survey is supposed to measure "quality of life," how is that concept defined? Is it measurable?
Extensive discussions of reliability and validity are available in several texts, such as Textbook in Psychiatric Epidemiology (3rd Ed.; M. Tsuang et al. Wiley. 2011; See chapters 5 and 7).

Statistics!

  • State and County QuickFacts
    Quickly get recent state, county, and city demographics (including age, race/ethnicity, income, residence) and business information.

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: BRFSS
    BRFSS tracks health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States. BRFSS provides state- and metro area-specific prevalence and trends information about issues such as asthma, diabetes, health care access, alcohol use, hypertension, obesity, cancer screening, nutrition and physical activity, tobacco use, and more.

  • CDC WONDER
    Provides a single point of access to a wide variety of public health reports and data systems, both local and external, categorized by topic, alphabetically, or by utilizing online query systems.
    • deaths
    • aging
    • chronic diseases
    • infectious diseases
    • environmental health/exposure
    • births
    • risk behavior
    • immunization

  • Kids Count Data Center
    Includes data by state, across states, and some county and city level data. Data can be mapped or graphed. Includes hundreds of measures of child well-being.

See also the Public Health Library's Health Statistics & Data Resources web guide

Always Remember . . .

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