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Using the Health Data Explorer for County Community Health Assessments

The North Carolina Health Data Explorer provides a user-friendly way to examine county-level data for many different health and social indicators.  The user can compare data for their county to neighboring counties, peer counties, the region, or the state.  The Explorer also allows the user to look at 10 year time series data for leading causes of death, and to compare one county's trendline to its peer counties**, the region, or the state.  Be sure to let us know if there are other data items you would like included on the Explorer.  Email your feedback and suggestions to Katherine Jones.

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For an overview of the Explorer, the user should review the Concise IntroductionTechnical Notes, and Frequently Asked Questions, and watch the short video demonstration of the simple map.

Data for the Explorer is organized around four themes or series:

Series 1: Mortality and Healthcare Resources

Series 2: Social Life and Economy

Series 3: The Environment

Series 4: Health Behaviors

Each series contains a different selection of data.  Each series includes mortality data for leading causes of death.  Then, Series 1 contains additional data on health care resources, such as physicians per 1,000 population.  Series 2 contains social data.  Series 3 contains environmental data, and Series 4 contains data on health behaviors such as smoking.

Begin by opening the Simple Map-Series1.  Use the "Select Data" button to select Heart Disease-Five Year Mortality Rate (2003-2007).  The map displays data for the counties, and the user can easily compare data for their county with other counties.  Roll the cursor over a county on the map to highlight that county.  The highlighted county will also show on the bar chart below.  The user can see which quintile that county is in (low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, high).  The user can also see the range of the data (lowest to highest) by looking at the bar chart or the "Counties by Quintile" table.

To filter the data by a region or by peer county groupings, click on the "Filter by Region" button and select a region from the drop down menu.

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Time Series Application

County Users may also find the Time Series Application useful.  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 trendline will display on the map.

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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 webpage.

Data can also be exported from the Explorer.  To do this, go the 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/