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Data Sources

Select data sources used for chronic disease reporting

The data sources used for chronic disease reporting are listed below. Descriptions of the data source include whether it is a survey or a full count dataset, and limitations to consider.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS; survey)

Description: The BRFSS is an annual random-digit dialed telephone survey that is conducted year round among Oregon adults aged 18 years or older. The BRFSS includes questions on diagnosis of chronic diseases, health behavior risk factors such as diet, weight control, tobacco and alcohol use, physical activity, preventive health screenings, and use of health care services. The data are weighted to represent all adults aged 18 years and older. A core set of questions is asked annually, and other topics are surveyed on a rotating basis. Starting in 2010, Oregonians who use cell phones were added to the survey, causing the method for adjusting (weighting) the data to the demographics of the state to change. This new method is called “raking.” Because of these changes, data prior to 2010 are not directly comparable to the data from 2010 forward. The national BRFSS implemented these changes in 2011. Learn more about BRFSS.
In addition to the annual BRFSS, Oregon produces other BRFSS datasets. These include the:
  • County Combined Dataset: Oregon combines four years of annual BRFSS data to produce more reliable county-level estimates for chronic diseases and related risk factors. These datasets are created every two years. The most recent was produced using 2008–2011 BRFSS data.
  • Race Oversample: Oregon conducts additional BRFSS surveys among under-represented races. The results of these surveys are combined with annual BRFSS data to provide more reliable estimates for chronic diseases and related risk factors among these groups of Oregonians. The most recent race oversamples were conducted in 2010–2011. Learn more about the Race Oversample (pdf).
  • Asthma Callback: Every year people who indicated on the BRFSS that they or a child living in their household ever had asthma are called back to collect more information on their, or their child’s, experience with asthma.

Limitations: BRFSS estimates are only for the adult population aged 18 years or older who live in households. Respondents are identified through telephone-based methods. Results obtained through BRFSS surveys are limited in that they represent self-reported responses. Not all questions on the BRFSS have been validated.

Hospital Discharge Dataset (HDD; full count)

Description: The Hospital Discharge Dataset provides information on hospital discharges from all acute care hospitals in Oregon except two Veterans Administration hospitals. The dataset includes admit and discharge dates, diagnosis and procedural codes, financial charges, primary payer, and patient demographic information. Learn more about HDD.
Limitations: Prior to 2008, the Hospital Discharge Dataset did not include information that would allow us to determine when a single person had multiple hospitalizations. Therefore, rates represent the number of hospital discharges per the Oregon population rather than number of different people hospitalized. In addition, prior to 2008, the dataset did not include information on race or ethnicity. Starting in 2008, the data necessary for investigating repeat hospitalizations and hospitalizations by race/ethnicity were available and can be reported.

Oregon Healthy Teens (OHT; survey)

Description: The OHT survey has been conducted since 2000. The sample size varies from 1,600 to 32,000 per year, and the final data are weighted to more accurately represent Oregon eighth and 11th-graders. The survey assesses health topics such as tobacco and alcohol use, HIV knowledge and attitudes, eating behaviors, nutrition and exercise. From 2000–2008 the survey was done annually. Since 2009 the survey is done every other year. Learn more about OHT.
Limitations: OHT is limited in that participation by school systems in the OHT is voluntary. However, participation rates are high. Another limitation is that 3% of surveys were eliminated due to combinations of “dubious” answers and another 5% were eliminated because the student did not fill out grade or gender information.

Oregon State Cancer Registry (OSCaR; full count)

Description: The Oregon State Cancer Registry (OSCaR) was established by the 1995 Oregon Legislature to conduct statewide cancer data collection and to guide cancer control program planning. The registry started collection of information on all reportable cancers diagnosed on January 1, 1996. Oregon physicians and other health care providers are required to report patients newly diagnosed with cancer or benign tumors of the brain and central nervous system. Data from OSCaR helps cancer prevention programs, clinicians, policymakers, and the public understand the burden of cancer among Oregonians. Learn more about OSCaR.
Limitations: There is approximately a two years lag period in case reporting, which may result in a delay in the publication of Annual Reports. OSCaR staff are not involved in regular follow-up of reported patients and as a result some of the follow-up information may be incomplete.

Vital records data (full count)

Description: Vital statistics are the compilation and analysis of information collected from vital events (births, deaths, marriage, divorce, teen pregnancy, and abortions) reported in Oregon. Some of the most important information about the health of Oregonians comes from vital records, such as leading causes of death, low birth weight babies, and mother's access to prenatal care. Vital records data are used throughout the state and nation for analysis of health trends, program planning, and policy development. Learn more about vital records.
  • Birth Certificate Statistical File: The Birth Certificate Statistical File includes all births occurring in Oregon and births occurring out of state to Oregon residents. This database includes parental demographic information, conditions of the newborn, congenital abnormalities, medical factors of pregnancy, method of delivery, and complications of labor and delivery. It also includes tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use during pregnancy. Information about maternal diabetes and gestational diabetes is also included.
  • Death Certificate Statistical File: The Death Certificate Statistical File includes all deaths occurring in Oregon and deaths occurring out of state to Oregon residents. Data are obtained from death certificates that are collected from the state registrar. The data are used to examine trends in mortality and causes of death. This database includes cause of death, date, and place of death, and decedent demographic information. For comparability, national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research) data system is used (
Limitations: The accuracy of the data depends on the accuracy with which the birth attendant, certifying physician or medical examiner describes the circumstances surrounding the birth or the underlying causes of death.

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