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NCHS Data Access and Resources

NCHS Fact Sheet, July 2016

PDF Version ( 242 KB)


About NCHS

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the nation’s principal health statistics agency, providing data to identify and address health issues. NCHS compiles statistical information to help guide health and health policy decisions. 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 health, and health outcomes.


Accessing NCHS Data

NCHS releases data from its surveys and systems in a variety of ways to accommodate users with varying needs and interests, including policymakers, researchers, medical and public health professionals, teachers, students, business leaders, and the general public.


Reports and Publications

Each year, NCHS produces hundreds of reports and other publications in a variety of formats.

  • Data Briefs summarize the latest data on current public health topics in eight pages of easily understandable text and graphics. For further information, visit
  • National Health Statistics Reports provide annual data summaries, analyses of health topics, or new information on methods or measurement issues. For further information, visit
  • National Vital Statistics Reports provide data on vital events–such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces–using tables and charts, along with a discussion of the analyses. Examples include preliminary and final annual birth and death data, leading causes of death, and pregnancy rates. For further information, visit
  • Health E-Stats are brief reports published several times each year on current and timely health topics, such as trends in fertility rates and prevalence of obesity. For further information, visit
  • QuickStats highlight survey findings in a chart and brief caption each week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For further information, visit
  • Life Tables are annual reports that track life expectancy in the United States by age, race, Hispanic origin, and sex. Every 10 years, NCHS also releases a decennial volume of life expectancy data, with one volume for each state. For further information, visit
  • Early Releases of Selected Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) provide expedited estimates of key health and health-related indicators based on data from NHIS.
    • Selected Estimates Based on Data from the National Health Interview Survey is published quarterly and provides estimates of 16 health measures, ranging from vaccinations to obesity.
    • Health Insurance Coverage: Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey is published quarterly and provides estimates of health insurance coverage by selected demographic characteristics.
    • Wireless Substitution: Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey is published in May and November of each year and provides estimates on exclusive wireless telephone usage in households.
  • Vital and Health Statistics Series provide details on survey design and operation, methods of statistical analysis, and statistics derived from data collection systems or a family of related systems. For further information, visit
  • Fact Sheets provide brief summaries of the NCHS surveys and data systems and topics of interest to policymakers and the general public. For further information, visit
  • Health, United States is the annual report on the health status of the nation, submitted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the President and Congress. Detailed tables and charts display health statistics trends over time on topics including health status and its determinants, health care resources, and health care use. Each year the chartbook contains a special feature on a topic of importance to current discussions in public health, such as emergency care or socioeconomic status. For further information, visit
  • Healthy People Reviews measure the nation’s progress toward Healthy People 2010 and 2020 benchmarks for health promotion and disease prevention using data from NCHS data systems, other federal government data systems, and other data sources. For further information, visit
  • Vital Statistics Rapid Release provides access to the timeliest vital statistics for public health surveillance through pilot releases of Quarterly Provisional Estimates and Special Reports based on the current flow of vital statistics data from state vital record offices. For further information, visit

Micro-data Files

NCHS provides access to its rich data sets so researchers can conduct their own analyses and add to NCHS’ knowledge of public health issues. 

  • Public-Use Documentation and Data Files are available through the FTP file server and provide users with free access to data sets, documentation, and questionnaires from NCHS surveys and data collection systems. For more information, visit
  • Non-Public-Use Data Files are available through a network of Research Data Centers that provide secure access to detailed data that cannot be released online due to confidentiality concerns. For more information, visit
  • Data Linkage Program allows researchers to study factors that influence disability, chronic disease, health care use, morbidity, and mortality through the linkage of NCHS survey data with data from administrative records and other surveys.For more information, visit
  • National Death Index is a database of all deaths in the United States (beginning with 1979) derived from state death certificates and a resource to aid epidemiologists and other health and medical investigators with their mortality ascertainment activities. For further information, visit

Online Resources and Tools

The NCHS website provides quick access to key health data as well as tools that allow users to customize and display data in a way that fits their needs. For a complete list of data access tools, visit

  • FastStats A to Z provides quick access to statistics and associated web links and pre-tabulated tables on topics of public health importance, including diseases, health-related behaviors, injuries, health care, and health insurance. For further information, visit
  • VitalStats allows users to access and examine vital statistics and population data interactively. Users can take advantage of prebuilt tables and reports or use the data files to create custom tables. For further information, visit
  • Health Indicators Warehouse serves as the federal data hub for access to national, state, and community health indicators and data. Users can map, chart, tabulate, and download indicator data and metadata. For further information, visit
  • Health Data Interactive presents interactive national data tables that can be customized to explore different trends and patterns for Americans by age, gender, race and ethnicity, and geographic location. For further information, visit
  • Data Online Query System (DOQS) allows users to generate and store analyses and provides dynamically generated tables, charts, and graphs using NCHS public-use data. DOQS launched in 2014 with emergency department data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. CDC will add more datasets in the future. For further information, visit

For further information about NCHS and its programs, visit