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Center for Health Systems Research & Development


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How to use the North Carolina Health Data Explorer

To use the Simple Map, choose the data indicator you would like to see by clicking on the “select data” button on the top left of the page.  A drop down menu will allow you to select data, and then the data will display on the map.  (**To select your data on the drop down menu, place your curser directly over the word “count” or “rate.”   To select a list of the data sources, place your curser over the little page icon, and a data source list will open).

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Along with the map, the data will also be displayed on the chart at the bottom right.  The counties will be grouped into five categories (or “quintiles”), which will be displayed in the “Counties by Quintile” legend.

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The data can be filtered by region using the “filter by region” button.  When you select for a region, the Health Data Explorer presents only the data for that region.  To remove the region filter, scroll down to the bottom of the region list and choose “remove filter.”

Click here for a Short Video Demonstration of the Simple Map

Explore the Double Map

The Double Map and Scatter Plot displays two data indicators simultaneously, as well as a scatter plot that shows the relationship between those two indicators.  When the page opens, the two maps will (by default) be displaying the same indicator.  The user should click on the “Select Y-axis data” and “Select X-axis data” buttons to choose which indicators to display. 

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Whichever indicators the user chooses will automatically be displayed together in the scatter plot.  The horizontal and vertical labels on the scatter plot show which data are displayed.  If you wish to include data for only one particular region, click the “Filter by Region” button.  If the data are filtered by region, the filter will apply to both indicators and both maps.

The scatter plot shows the relationship between the two variables using a linear regression model.  The model estimates a line that is the “best fit” for the data on the scatter plot.  The formula for the line is displayed at the top of the graph, and the plot of the line is displayed on the graph.  (For additional information on how to use the scatter plot and how to and interpret the regression line, see the Technical Notes).

Exploring the Multivariate Map

Open the Multivariate Application and click on the button labeled “Y-axis (Dependent Variable)” to choose the first variable.  Then, choose the second variable by clicking on the button labeled “X-axis (Independent Variable)”.  The scatter plot will graph the relationship between these two variables, and will display a correlation coefficient and a regression equation for the variables.  You can also visually add in the influence of two more variables by adjusting the size and the color of the scatter plot bubble with the “Map (color) Variable” button and the “Size Variable” button.  The size of the bubble is proportionate to the value of the "Size Variable."  The color of the bubble may be used to represent categories such as regions, or ordinal values such as quintiles (generally a darker color indicates a higher value).

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You can experiment with any of the variables on the application.  Just keep in mind that the slope of the line (the scatter plot) will always be determined by the relationship between the X and the Y variables.  The X variable will always be the independent (or “causal”) variable, and the Y variable will always be the dependent (or “outcome”) variable.  Then, look for interesting patterns in the Size and Color variables.  Do all the “big” dots (generally the big values) cluster toward the right or to the left of the plot?  Or do they not seem clustered at all?  Do colors of the circles or dots cluster above the line or below the line?  Or to the left or to the right?

Time Series Application

The Health Data Explorer Time Series Application presents county-level mortality data for leading causes of death over the most recent 10 year period.  To open the Time Series Application, return to the Explorer main page and scroll down until you find the Time Series link.  With the application open, use the "Select Data" button to choose a disease.  You may select either the mortality rate or the count (number of deaths), and pick one year to view the data.  The map will display the mortality for that disease for that year by county (by quintile).  When you roll the cursor over any county on the map, the time series data for that county for all 10 years will display on the Time Series chart below.  If you click the county it will remain highlighted and will continue to display on the Time Series chart.  Then, roll over another county and that county will also display on the chart in a different color, so you may compare them.    To compare the county to a region or the state, roll over that region on the Region/State/US table.  To compare a county to its peer** counties, click on the "Filter by Region" button and scroll down until you locate the county of interest.  Click on its peer group and Explorer will display only that data.  Roll over the counties on the bar chart and their 10 year trend line will display on the map.

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Saving or Printing Images

Images from the health data Explorer can be printed or copied into a jpg or png file.  For instructions on how to do this, see the FAQ section of the web page.  

Downloading Data

Data can also be exported from the Explorer.  To do this, go to the bottom of the simple map instructions page and open the application with the data you are looking for.  Once the application is open, click the "Link to Data" button to open an excel file with data.  

**Peer counties are the three or four other counties in the state that are considered similar to the target county, based on health needs and risk factors.  Peer counties are described in more detail in the NC-CATCH Training manual, page 14, which can be found at this web site:  http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/catch/