Health data are about as personal as data can get. People who respond to health surveys are doing public health a big favor when they open up and tell survey interviewers about their and their families’ personal health status and history, use of health care services, health care insurance coverage, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
Administrative data files contain similarly important and personal health and health-related data. Government agencies and other public bodies that collect, process, organize, analyze, and disseminate health data must maintain confidentiality of the data while maximizing usefulness and facilitating appropriate usage of the data. Constant advances in technology and methodology make carrying out those responsibilities both easier and harder. For example, advances in computing have made it is easier for agencies to capture, process, link, and disseminate data, but the restrictions needed to protect confidentiality have had to be correspondingly tightened.
How government agencies and other public bodies are dealing with these opportunities and challenges is the subject of the Special Issue (Volume 28, 1-2, 2012) of the Statistical Journal of the IAOS entitled “Reshaping Health Statistics” and Guest Edited by Jane F. Gentleman of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. The Special Issue contains eight papers whose authors list affiliations with 14 countries. The papers describe changes recently made and changes coming to a wide array of systems and methods for producing and using health statistics, with the common goal of improving public health by enhancing the usefulness and usability of health data and health statistics.
About the Special Issue ‘Reshaping Health Statistics’ is volume 28, issue 1-2 of the Statistical Journal of the IAOS (ISSN 1874-7655), guest-edited by Dr. Jane F. Gentleman.
Reshaping health statistics: A new framework / J. Madans, C. Abou-Zahr, A. Bercovich, T. Boerma, D. Carlton, L. Castro, M. Desmedt, E. Domingo, J. Kahimbaara, M. Marquardt, H. Nviiri, E. Norgaard, E. Vassenden and M. Wolfson
Measuring health in population surveys / G. Kalton
Protecting confidentiality in a data enclave / P.S. Meyer, E.S. Robinson and J. Madans
The French public health information system / M. Goldberg, E. Jougla, M. Fassa, R. Padieu and C. Quantin
Measuring health care costs of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance in the U.S.: A comparison of survey and claims data / A. Aizcorbe, E. Liebman, S. Pack, D.M. Cutler, M.E. Chernew and A.B. Rosen
Combining health register data and biobank data / M. Gissler and H.-M. Surcel
Health statistics in the Netherlands, review 1995–2009, preview 2010–2015 / J. Kardaun, A. de Bruin, V. van Polanen Petel, S. van der Aart, J. van den Berg and O. van Hilten
Evaluation of the interest of using discharge abstract databases to estimate breast cancer incidence in two French departments / C. Quantin, E. Benzenine, M. Fassa, M. Hägi, E. Fournier, J. Gentil, D. Compain, E. Monnet, P. Arveux and A. Danzon
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