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Indiana State Department of Health

ISDH Home > Reports > Data Users Guide > Table of Contents > Introduction - Data Uses Introduction - Data Uses

Data - the information that we get from vital records filed at the Indiana State Department of Health - drives many actions and questions:

  • Do we need to consider building a new elementary school? How many births have occurred in our county?
  • Where do pregnant women in our county go to deliver their babies?
  • What is the leading cause of death in my county?  How does it compare to others?
  • Is it true that Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation?

These are just a few of the questions that can be answered by health data.  Vital statistics, information from records of births, deaths and marriages, is used to answer them.

How data are interpreted is very important to the decision-making process.  As illustrated in the following pages, misinterpretation of the data can lead to incorrect assumptions about health status.  For those of us that communicate to the public about health statistics, it is very important that the health statistics be reported accurately.  The pages that follow give descriptions and examples of how to look at data and present it in the correct manner to those that will get their information on health from our reports.

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