The Data You Need May Be Closer Than You Think

The Triangle Census Research Data Center (TCRDC) can provide access to restricted National Center for Health Statistics and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) data to members of the Duke community. Use of restricted data must still undergo the NCHS or AHRQ approval process; however, the data can now be accessed in a secure computing environment on Duke's campus (which is a lot closer and easier than traveling to Bethesda!) Data that may be available includes:

  1. Variables removed from public-use data files: Most surveys collected by NCHS and AHRQ contain sensitive information which is suppressed or masked to protect the confidentiality of respondents. Such information, which can include geographic and demographic detail, study design information, expenditure information, detailed business information, and information on childhood disease and behavior, is only available to users through NCHS, AHRQ, and Census Research Data Centers (RDCs).
  2. Linked files or matching data: Many widely used surveys, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), have been linked to national mortality records, Medicare and Medicaid records, and Social Security Administration Records. Many of these linked files are only available through RDCs.
  3. Restricted data files: Some files, such as the Insurer Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey or the National Employer Health Insurance Survey, have no public use versions. All forms of these files are only available for access through RDCs.

Not all AHRQ and National Center for Health Statistics are available. See the Center listing for the current data inventory at

For further information about the approval process and the data available, visit the NCHS RDC Website, the AHRQ Website, or the TCRDC Website. A brief summary of potentially available restricted data can be found online at the New York Census Research Data Center. More detailed information on what information is restricted can be found on Websites for the individual surveys.

Submitted by Megan von Isenburg