Bilateral Collaborations


Annual Interchange Between Statistics Canada and NCHS

The first annual Interchange between the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Statistics Canada was held in 1999. The NCHS is the U.S. federal government’s official health statistics agency, and as such it is one of 13 agencies “deemed to be principal statistical agencies whose activities are predominately the collection, compilation, processing or analysis of information for statistical purposes.” Statistics Canada is the Federal Government of Canada’s central statistical office, legislated to “collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, financial, social, economic and general activities and conditions of the people of Canada.”

The two agencies have health programs with much in common, including the collection of vital statistics and the conducting of national health population surveys and health care provider surveys. Every year since 1999, the two agencies have held a 2-day “Interchange,” alternating venues between agencies, during which they share information about their common health-related interests, activities, challenges, and achievements. Over the years, the agencies’ respective staff members have become well-acquainted, and have increased their communication outside of the Interchange. As a result, a number of joint projects have been implemented, including conducting the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, coauthoring journal articles, and providing each other with advice and technical assistance (such as that provided by NCHS in the development of Statistics Canada’s Canadian Health Measures Survey, and that provided by Statistics Canada in developing technical capabilities for mobile examination centers like those used by NCHS’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to operate in extremely cold conditions). More information on these agencies can be found in the links below.

Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health

The Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health (JCUSH) was conducted jointly by NCHS and Statistics Canada in 2002-2003. It was a one-time telephone survey, nationally representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized populations of each country separately (not including their Territories). JCUSH questions were taken from the two agencies’ large, ongoing national health surveys. Approximately 3,500 Canadian and 5,200 U.S. adult residents participated in the survey. Interviews were conducted in the respondent’s choice of English or Spanish in the U.S. and English or French in Canada. The two countries’ versions of the survey used essentially the same sample design, questions, and data processing procedures, providing an unprecedented ability to perform bi-national comparative data analyses. See examples of such comparative analyses in the references section below.
Public use microdata files and documentation are available on the NCHS website and the Statistics Canada website.

Selected References

Altman BM, Gulley SP. Convergence and divergence: Differences in disability prevalence estimates in the United States and Canada based on four health survey instruments. Soc Sci Med 69(4):543–552. 2009.

Blackwell DL, Martinez ME, Gentleman JF. Women’s compliance with public health guidelines for mammograms and pap tests in Canada and the United States: An analysis of data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health. Women’s Health Issues 18(2): 85–99. 2008.

Gulley SP, Altman BM. Disability in two health care systems: Access, quality, satisfaction, and physician contacts among working-age Canadians and Americans with disabilities. Disabil Health J 1(4):196–208. 2008.

Huguet N, Kaplan MS, Feeny D. Socioeconomic status and health-related quality of life among elderly people: results from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health. Soc Sci Med 66(4): 803–810. 2008.

Lasser KE, Himmelstein DU, Woolhandler S. Access to care, health status, and health disparities in the United States and Canada: Results of a cross-national population-based survey. Ame J Public Health 96(7): 1300–7. 2006.

Sanmartin C, Berthelot JM, Ng E, Murphy K, Blackwell D, Gentleman JF, Martinez, et al. Comparing health and health care use in Canada And The United States. Health Aff (millwood) 25(4):1133–42. 2006.

Sanmartin C, Ng E, Blackwell D, Gentleman J, Martinez M, Simile C. Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, 2002–03. 2004. Available from:
Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, 2002-03 [PDF – 488KB].