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Data Sources—U.S. Census Bureau

2008 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports

The National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) is a comprehensive national overview of quality of health care in the United States. It is organized around four dimensions of quality of care: effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, and patient centeredness.


American Community Survey


U.S. Census Bureau.

Mode of Administration

The American Community Survey (ACS) is conducted using three methods of data collection to contact households:

  • Mail: self-enumeration through mail-out/mail-back.
  • Telephone: computer-assisted telephone interviewing.
  • Personal visits: computer-assisted personal interviewing.

Survey Sample Design

The ACS is a new survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This survey uses a series of monthly samples to produce annually updated data for the same small areas (census tracts and block groups) as the decennial census long-form sample formerly surveyed. Initially, 5 years of samples are required to produce these small-area data. Once the Census Bureau has collected 5 years of data, new small-area data are produced annually.

Each month, the Census Bureau selects a systematic sample of addresses from the most current master address file (MAF). The sample represents the entire United States. No address will receive the ACS questionnaire more than once in any 5-year period. A larger proportion of addresses are sampled for small government units (American Indian reservations, counties, and towns). The monthly sample size is designed to approximate the sampling ratio of Census 2000, including the oversampling of small government units.

Primary Content

The ACS is a new approach to producing critical information about the characteristics of local communities. It will eliminate the need for a long form in the 2010 Census and is a key part of the Census Bureau's Decennial Census Program. The ACS publishes social, housing, and economic characteristics for demographic groups covering a broad spectrum of geographic areas in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The ACS shifted from a demonstration program with a different sample design and sample size to the full sample size and design in 2005. It became the largest household survey in the United States, with an annual sample size of about 3 million addresses. Every year the ACS can support the release of single-year estimates for geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. The ACS will accumulate samples over 3-year and 5-year intervals to produce estimates for smaller geographic areas, including census tracts and block groups.

Social characteristics. School enrollment, education, marital status, fertility, grandparents caring for children, veteran status, disability status, residence one year ago, place of birth, U.S. citizenship status, year of entry, world region of birth of foreign-born individuals, language spoken at home, relationship, households by type, and ancestry.

Economic characteristics. Employment status, commute to work, occupation, industry, class of worker, income and benefits, and poverty status.

Housing characteristics. Housing occupancy, units in structure, year structure built, number of rooms, number of bedrooms, housing tenure, year householder moved into unit, vehicles available, house heating fuel, utility costs, occupants per room, housing value, mortgage status and costs, and gross rent.

Demographic characteristics. Age, gender, race, and Hispanic origin.

Population Targeted

Total population living in the United States at the time of the interview.

Demographic Data

Age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, geographic location.

Years Collected

Since 2005.



Geographic Estimates

National, State, local area.

Contact Information

Agency home page:

Data system homepage:


U.S. Census Bureau. Design and methodology, American Community Survey. Technical Paper 67. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 2006. Available at: (Plugin Software Help)


Current as of September 2009
Internet Citation: Data Sources—U.S. Census Bureau: 2008 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. September 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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