Global Health Data Exchange - Discover the World's Health Data

About Data Types

"Data type" is what we use to categorize data based on the kind of information that it covers and the way the data are collected.

Administrative data

Data from the records maintained by agencies, institutions, commercial entities and governments, where the records are used for administrative purposes or for providing services. Examples include hospital and other health facility data, claims data, occupational injuries data, and police data.


Data from a complete count of a specified population or entity; may include information about behavior, opinions or characteristics based on responses to questions.

Demographic surveillance

Data from a system to monitor vital events and migration in a specific population over time (generally subnational). Differs from vital registration in that it may include other data points or data collection methods such as surveys.

Disease registry

Data from a centralized source that gathers information on patients with a specific diagnosis, condition or procedure. Examples include cancer, renal, stroke, and congenital anomalies registries.

Environmental monitoring

Data from measurement systems that capture information about the climate and the environment.

Epi surveillance

Data from systems designed to continuously collect, analyze and distribute public health data. Common types:

  • Passive surveillance: Health care practitioners are required to report specific diseases or health-related events, e.g. case notifications
  • Active surveillance: Occurs when a system or public heath practitioners, using a standard case definition and a variety of means (from clinical record reviews to community surveys), actively search for cases of a disease in a population. May be performed after disease outbreaks
  • Sentinel surveillance: A single site or small network of facilities is used to monitor a specific community/population


Standalone estimates that may be the underlying datasets from a publication or that may have been created for their own sake. Includes IHME results. Unlike reports, estimates contain little or no narrative.

Event data

Data about an event or series of events (human and/or environmental) that occur within a specified time period. Sources typically include the media, news releases from other types of organizations, conflict databases, and more.

Financial record

Data from the formal records of the financial activities of an entity (or person).

Geospatial data

Data with geographic positioning information, including vector data, raster data, geographic reference codes, and gazetteers.


Data about laws or rules enacted by governing bodies – or the text of the laws themselves. Also includes government regulations.

Modeled data

Raw input data that have been transformed by IHME modelers through various preparation processes, such as age- and sex-splitting.


Publications that include estimates or aggregate data from multiple sources (e.g., statistical yearbooks and bulletins). Reports also contain, unlike standalone estimates, at least some narrative explaining the data – the source of the data or what they mean or both. Reports may be published serially, but are not generally peer-reviewed.

Scientific literature

Articles and papers containing health-related data that are published in peer-reviewed journals (print, CD, or online).


Data about behavior, opinions or characteristics based on responses to questions from a sample of a specified population or entity.

Vital registration

Data from a system that registers vital events in a population, including births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages and divorces – a specific type of administrative data.