Analyzing National Datasets

The Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research (CMMHR) at the Cambridge Health Alliance and New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming, hosted a webinar titled, “Analyzing National Datasets to Reduce Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities.”

Many nationally representative health care datasets are available to researchers over the Internet. These datasets are invaluable because they provide estimates of health and healthcare disparities that allow for description and tracking of the progress or lack of progress being made towards equity in the U.S. However, the utilization of these datasets is impeded by the lengthy, often unclear process of converting what is shown on a website into data that is readily analyzed and interpreted using statistical software packages.

In this workshop, Dr. Benjamin Cook and Dr. John Garcia presented the datasets that are available to the disparities researcher and provide a primer on downloading and analyzing publicly available health care data. The objectives of this workshop were to:

  • identify the range of publicly available datasets available to the health disparities researcher
  • provide tools to the participant to convert raw data into formats acceptable for commonly used statistical packages
  • merge data within and between datasets identifying and recoding variables so they are readily useable and interpretable
  • utilize sampling weights and sampling design features to ensure correct national estimates

Dr. Cook has over ten years of experience working with nationally representative datasets, having published numerous health and health care disparities articles using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the National Survey for Drug Use and Health, the National Health Interview Survey, the National Latino and Asian American Survey, and other nationally representative datasets.

Dr. Garcia is Director of the Resource Center for Minority Data and Director of Community Outreach at ICPSR at the University of Michigan. John Garcia’s involvement with ICPSR dates back more than 40 years. Garcia’s primary areas of research and teaching are: minority group politics, especially Latinos; political behavior; political mobilization; urban politics; social survey research; and public policy. His work at ICPSR and its parent organization the Institute for Social Research has been wide-ranging. He taught a research workshop on quantitative research on Latinos in the early 1990s, and since 2005 served as a co-instructor for the current Summer Program workshop on Methodological Issues of Quantitative Research on Race and Ethnicity. In the summer of 2010, Garcia was the principal instructor of that workshop.

Click the following links for copies of the workshop materials:

National Datasets Presentation
Resources on Minority Data Presentation Part 1 A
Resources on Minority Data Presentation Part 1 B
Resources on Minority Data Presentation Part 2