HHS Implements New Survey Data Standards

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Health agency to monitor health discrepancies among underserved populations.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently adopted new data standards for its health surveys in order to monitor better, and then act to reduce, disparities in health between “commonly undeserved” populations.

The HHS notes that the new standards will improve the “breadth,” “quality,” and “consistency” of data collection and analysis as it applies to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, primary language and disability status.

The new HHS standards will add an extra degree of specificity to racial classifications. The standards replace umbrella terms, like “Hispanic,” with specific racial classifications, like “Mexican American,” “Puerto Rican,” and “Cuban.”

The standards similarly expand other racial categories like “Asian” and “Pacific Islander.”

HHS argues that more granular data collection will improve the agency’s ability to analyze health discrepancies across racial subgroups.   For example, the new standards would allow HHS to monitor how  diabetes mortality rates among Mexican Americans compare to diabetes mortality rates among Cuban Americans.

The new requirements also include multiple questions relating to physical, emotional, and mental well-being, intended to improve monitoring health of individuals with disabilities.