Data themes: Health & living conditions

New: UK Data Service COVID-19 theme page

The UK Data Service has launched a dedicated COVID-19 theme page. Note, it is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Whilst much of the data specific to COVID-19 is not yet widely available, a number of studies may provide useful data to investigate its societal and social impact. These include surveys that explore topics such as population health, employment and levels of deprivation, as well as geographic differences both inside and outside the UK.

The majority of the data described are known as 'raw', 'primary' or 'source' data in the sense that they represent information that has been collected 'first-hand'. They are original data sources which may then be used for 'secondary' analysis by researchers not involved in the data collection process. The majority of these data are anonymised because they describe the attitudes, behaviour, circumstances and personal details of the individuals being studied. These types of data are heavily used by the academic and government research communities.


Resources for researching health and living conditions may include data from subscription databases, publicly available data portals or archived academic projects. Some suggestions are:

Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts
This database is an indexing and abstracting tool covering health and social services as well as education, economics and politics. It abstracts and indexes over 500 journals, from more than 16 countries and is updated monthly.

1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)  
Originally known as the Child Health and Education Study (CHES), a longitudinal survey collecting data about the births and families of approximately eleven thousand babies born in the United Kingdom in one particular week in 1970. The collection includes data that is available under a variety of access conditions so some segments may require special permission.

Child Health and Developmental Studies (PDF)
The Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) investigates how health and disease are passed on between generations--not just by genes, but also through social, personal, and environmental surroundings.

Child Mortality Estimates
Data and estimates on child mortality for each country based on the research of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

Cochrane Library 
The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases covering medicine and health related areas. At its core is the collection of Cochrane Reviews, a database of systematic reviews which summarise and interpret the results of medical research.

Cross-National Comparison of Interagency Coordination Between Law Enforcement & Public Health (ICPSR 29522)
The project examined strategies for interagency coordination in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. The project's primary goal was to produce promising practices that will help law enforcement and public health agencies improve interagency coordination related to terrorist threats, as well as other public health emergencies.

Data Sources Available from AHRQ (US)
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a range of data resources in the form of online, searchable databases. Data are provided on topics such as the use of health care, the costs of care, health care systems, trends in hospital care, health insurance coverage, out-of-pocket spending, and patient satisfaction.

Demographic Health Surveys (DHS)
The DHS Program has collected, analysed and disseminated data on population, health, HIV and nutrition through more than 300 surveys in over 90 countries. Datasets are available for free after a simple registration process.

Eurostat New Cronos Database  
One of the main aims of this European survey is the collection of statistics on health, employment, consumption and living conditions. Key public health indicators used include disabilities, health and safety, health care, illness, smoking, alcohol consumption and causes of death.

Global Health Observatory
A World Health Organisation (WHO) project to provide data and analyses on global health priorities.

HealthData.gov
Makes high value health data more accessible to entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers in the hopes of better health outcomes for all. The site also provides tools and applications along with data sets from agencies across the Federal government.

Health Survey for England  
The annual HSE asks a number of core questions, but each year focuses on a different disease or condition or population group.

Human Fertility Database (HFD) 
Provides free access to detailed and high-quality data on period and cohort fertility and facilitates research on changes and inter-country differences in fertility in the past and in the modern era. The HFD is entirely based on official vital statistics and places a great emphasis on data checking and documentation and on warranting data comparability across time and countries by means of uniform methodology.

Human Mortality Database 
Contains original calculations of death rates and life tables for national populations (countries or areas), as well as the input data used in constructing those tables. The input data consist of death counts from vital statistics, plus census counts, birth counts, and population estimates from various sources.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 
A major archive of social science research data that holds information predominately relating to the United States - it also includes some additional collections. Data is available on a range of topics including health care services and urban studies.

Mass Observation Online
Access to material from the pioneering ethnographic project ‘Mass Observation’. It includes the entire File Report sequence 1937-1972, access to all of the Day Surveys, Directives and Diaries, 1937-1967 and Mass Observation Publications 1937-1965. A searchable topic collection covers issues such as family planning, health, sexual behaviour and smoking habits. The resource also includes interactive maps, bibliographic resources and essays on various aspects of Mass Observation.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales: Health and social care
Official webpage of the UK government for census and other government surveys. Visitors are able to search statistics by area, region or place. Browsing by themes such as the health care system, health of the population and social care is also possible.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
A major source for global monthly, quarterly and annual data and statistics on international development and trade. Issues to do with health and living conditions are covered in depth. Most of these surveys are made available through the UK Data Service but further analysis and commentary is provided by the OECD iLibrary with direct links to health statistics, social and welfare statistics along with indicators on health care use, health resources and other areas.

Population Council: Data 
Conducts research to address critical health and development issues, collecting microdata for Bangladesh, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam on a wide variety of topics including contraception, child marriage, gender based violence, HIV prevention and transmission, population policy, schooling, sexuality and sexual behavior, sex education, youth and transition to adulthood, and financing literacy.

Social policy & practice
A comprehensive database of evidence based practice contains abstracts from journals, books and research reports on children and young people, families and parenting, older people, community health, homelessness, disability and special needs, social work, community safety, and equalities.

Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)
A multidisciplinary and cross-national panel database of microdata on health, socio-economic status and social and family networks from 20 European countries (+Israel) aged 50 or older. The SHARE data can be downloaded from the SHARE Research Data Center, or GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences under certain conditions.

UK Biobank
A national and international health resource open to all bona fide health researchers. UK Biobank is following the health and well-being of 500,000 volunteer participants and provides health information, which does not identify them, to approved researchers in the UK and overseas, from academia and industry.

UK Data Service  
An archive of social science research that, in collaboration with the UK Data Archive, makes data available from many key governmental surveys and academic research projects. Content may be downloaded or analysed online on health, health behaviour, housing and living conditions.

Understanding society: Interviewer survey, 2014  
A multi-topic household survey (also known as Understanding Society) with a strong emphasis on health, family and social ties, work and quality of life. The study is an annual survey of each adult member of a nationally representative sample.

WHO Mortality Database
World Health Organization compilation of mortality data by age, sex and cause of death, as reported annually by member states from their civil registration systems.

You can find further resources on this theme by using on Databases A-Z or SOLO and subject guides.

Recommendations for additions to these lists are always welcome. Please email the Bodleian Data Library (data@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) with suggestions.