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NURS 417: Family and Community Health

Research guide for the Community Health Teaching Project

Reading Statistical Tables

statistical table

Read all the notes above and below the table to be sure you are correctly interpreting the data within the table. Numbers in the table are often expressed in units of 100, 1000, or more, multiplying the number in the table by that unit for the total number. Footnotes provide further explanation or note exceptions.

The source of the data is also indicated at the bottom of the table and may be consulted for further information.

Statistical Terms Defined

rate: A rate refers to the occurrence of events over a specific interval in time. Similarly, a rate refers to the measure of the frequency of some phenomenon of interest.

Often seen as mortality rate (number of deaths per unit (often per 1000) in a given year) or as incidence rate (number of new cases of a disease per unit in a given time frame).

ratio: A ratio is a number that expresses the relative size of two other numbers. The result of dividing a number X by another number Y is the ratio of X to Y.

The closer to 1, the more similar X and Y are.

Need to look up other statistical terms? Try the glossaries at the OECD or US Census Bureau.

General Statistics

Health (Epidemiological) Statistics: Try These First

It may be easiest to find statistics on the most common diseases in a population, leading causes of death, or communicable diseases required to be reported to health agencies. However, common behavioral risk factors may be indicators of a wide range of diseases and conditions and are an additional source of statistics. Statistics on cause of death may also be easier to locate that incidence or prevalence among the general population.

Try These First

Dept. of Health & Human Services sites and library databases of statistical tables. These statistical tables often lead to detailed reports for further information.

National Organizations and Agencies

National data, likely to extend to state, county, and possibly municipal data.

National Center for Health Statistics:   Various tools can be found under the "Data Access" heading on the home page, but the following tools will likely be most helpful for this assignment:

Centers for Disease Control:  try the home page or these specific sites:


State data, likely to extend to county and municipal data

International Agencies

Country, regional, and global data; global initiatives

More Sources

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