The main executive department responsible for health is the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a sub-agency under the HHS, is the most significant health data producer in the United States. Understanding the complex organizational structure of the HHS is essential when starting health research, as it is the number one source of data and statistics in the United States.
In addition, under the HHS are other agencies that also produce health data that may be of interest to social science researchers. According to the HHS’s organizational chart, it directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Indian Health Services (IHS). The following are noteworthy examples of administrative and survey health data and statistics resources within the HHS and further resources for research studies and data.
Administrative data is information collected by government agencies, businesses, and other organizations purely for transactional purposes and is not initially collected for research. This type of data is useful for researchers to understand health related activities and health trends within the United States.
Studies from academic researchers are another source of health data and statistics for business, economics and other social science research. The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is a significant source of health studies for the social sciences
Survey data samples a population through online, telephone, or in-person interviews. Surveys are costly and time-consuming; however, federal agencies have the funding and personnel to conduct large scale surveys and produce data and statistics at the national, state, and local level.