Data on Health and Well-being of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Other Native Americans. Background

12/01/2006

The Study of Data on Health and Well-being of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other Native Americans (AI/AN/NAs) was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) to address the need for systematic information about available data sources pertaining to the health and well-being of AI/AN/NA populations. This study examined numerous existing databases-federal surveys, research survey databases, state and community surveys, and administrative databases-that include information on AI/AN/NA population characteristics and measures of health and well-being. The study team documented the nature of these databases, including their strengths and limitations, and collated the information into this data catalog. In the course of a systematic review, the study also shed light on the limitations and gaps in available data on the health and well-being of AI/AN/NA populations. The second component of this project, a paper entitled Report on Gaps in Data, Initiatives Underway, and Strategies for Improving AI/AN/NA Data for Policy and Research describes these limitations and gaps and identifies possible strategies to improve the quality, usefulness, and population and geographic coverage of data on AI/AN/NA health and well-being.(1)

This study continues DHHS' focus on improving data collection concerning the health and well-being of racial and ethnic populations. The current study builds on previous activities, including the 1999 Joint Report of the DHHS Data Council's Working Group on Racial and Ethnic Data and the Data Workgroup of the DHHS Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health entitled Improving the Collection and Use of Racial and Ethnic Data in DHHS. It also expands on the activities conducted during an earlier study for ASPE entitled Assessment of Major Federal Data Sets for Analyses of Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander Subgroups and Native Americans.(2)

This data catalog focuses on data sources that provide information on the health and well-being of AI/AN/NA populations. The catalog is intended for use by a wide variety of users including AI/AN/NA communities; researchers from government, academic institutions, and foundations; and policy makers. The catalog provides overview information on possible data sources that could be used to describe the need for services, analyze trends in well-being and health, or illuminate disparities. Some of the data sources profiled in this catalog supply only published tables for the user. Others can be used by those with the necessary analytical skills and tools to do analysis on specific questions. The profiles of data sets presented in this catalog are not meant to provide instruction for use of the data in addressing specific research questions, but instead to serve as a source of general information that will help potential users determine if further investigation of a data source is warranted. The catalog also provides contact information and data source locations for conducting further in-depth reviews of targeted data sources.

The populations covered by this catalog are American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other Native Americans including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. While each data source profiled here may collect information on the race of the respondents differently, it is helpful to keep in mind some generally accepted definitions of the key racial groups included in this catalog. American Indians (AI) and Alaska Natives (AN) are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as "people having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment."(3) For purposes of measuring, monitoring, and developing approaches to reducing disparities in health and well-being and for research on a range of issues related to health and well-being, there may be interest in information on the combined AI/AN group for some purposes and in information on specific subgroups of the population for other purposes. For this reason, this data catalog includes information on the availability of data on the combined AI/AN category as well AI and AN as separate groups and AI/AN who are members of federally or state-recognized tribes. The catalog also notes the availability of information on those who self report that they are AI/AN alone or AI/AN in combination with other races. Finally, because there may be interest in identifying those American Indians who live on reservations, the reviewers examined each data source to determine if reservation of residence was available in that data source.

The Native Hawaiian (NH) and other Pacific Islander (PI) population includes those who are members of any of the native peoples of Hawaii and native peoples of Pacific Insular Areas that are dependent territories of the U.S. (Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands) or Freely Associated States for which the U.S. provides defense, funding grants, and social services to its citizens (Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands). Within the NH/ PI population, there are several ethnically distinct categories. Polynesians, including Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, Tahitians, Tuvaluans, and Maori, are the largest group, accounting for 65 percent of all NH/PIs. Micronesians, including Guamanians, Marshallese, Palauans, residents of the Northern Mariana Islands and of the Federated States of Micronesia, are 13 percent of all NH/PIs. Melanesians, including Fijians, New Caledonians, Solomon Islanders, Vanuatuans, and Papua New Guineans, are 2 percent of this population.(4) In 1997, the Office of Management and Budget established a new racial category, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NH/PI), and required that federal agencies collect information on this new race category by 2003. The 2000 Census included the NH/PI race category and, as a result, provides an initial baseline for assessing socioeconomic status and some limited health measures of this group.(5)

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