National Center for Health Statistics

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The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the United States federal government's principal vital and health statistics agency, is organizationally part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Created in 1960 by the merger of the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey, the agency monitors the nation's health.

NCHS systems develop a wide variety of information (including data) on health status, lifestyle, and exposure to unhealthy influences, the onset and diagnosis of illness and disability, and the use of health care. These data are important to policymakers in government, to medical researchers, and to others in the health community.

The agency's principal data systems include the National Vital Statistics System, the National Health Interview Survey, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the multiple component National Health Care Survey, the National Survey of Family Growth, the Longitudinal Studies of Aging, and the National Immunization Survey, among others. The agency has also developed surveys for collecting health-related data on a state and regional basis.

The Public Health Service Act affords NCHS specific legislative authority to protect the confidentiality of its information. In addition, the act mandates NCHS to undertake and support research, demonstrations, and evaluations regarding its activities, and to provide technical assistance to state and local jurisdictions.

To meet its data needs, NCHS works closely with other federal agencies, state and local governments, researchers in biomedical and public health institutions, as well as researchers in the private sector.

Edward J. Sondik

(see also: National Health Surveys; Vital Statistics )

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National Center for Health Statistics

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National Center for Health Statistics