November 14, 2017 | 2

Social epidemiology and open source data

My work has always spanned several disciplines, but at its core, I spent a lot of time thinking about social issues surrounding health. I was astonished about how many rich sources data were available (and completely free!) from the U.S. Here are some of my favourites.

  1. The National Center for Health Statistics via CDC wonder has a wealth of U.S. vital statistics. The CDC Wonder system provides an easy-to-use graphical interface to specify the data you’re interested in. You can select specific states or years, and further stratify or restrict the data you want to best suit your needs. The NCHS compiles loads of data on mortality, births, and health outcomes. Some things definitely worth checking out: the NHANES and the National Health Interview Survey .
  2. The National Longitudinal Surveys are a set of surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Each survey is longitudinal and covers a broad range of topics including: health, employment, education, income, and political participation. In order to access the data, you must create an investigator account. Once logged in, you can search through lists of variables and topics and download the things that interest you.
  3. The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research ICPSR is an absolute gold mine. Housing over 65,000 datasets, the ICPSR archive can provides access to data across a wide range of domains including geography, political science, economics, education, and epidemiology. In addition accessing raw data, you can download study documentation such as the data dictionaries and user guides, and see a list of publications that have used a particular data source. Within ICPSR, the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) hosts several sources of crime data including the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).


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Erika Braithwaite

I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s in psychology and then completed a PhD in Epidemiology at McGill University. My journey …