The Research Data Centre of the Robert Koch Institute (FDZ RKI) publishes the data of population-representative health surveys in the form of public use files (PUFs). The main purpose of health surveys is to generate a maximum amount of information on the state of health and health-related behaviour of Germany's resident population while ensuring an optimum use of funds. The methodology - i.e. the sample design, the principles on operationalization and measurement, and data-collection techniques - is largely modelled on the tried-and-tested methods of empirical social research. Health interview surveys (HIS) use established survey techniques such as filling out questionnaires, computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI), computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI), and online polling via the internet or email. The main difference compared to purely sociological surveys lies in the additional biomedical examinations, tests and medical-biochemical measurements, which generate significant added value in addition to the results of the surveys; this part is referred to internationally as the health examination survey (HES).
Table 1 shows the health surveys conducted by the RKI to date. The upper section shows the surveys with the complex HIS/HES combination and field times of up to three years. The lower section lists the telephone health surveys (HIS type), whose survey period lasts an average of about eight months. Whereas the entire German adult population (with a landline telephone and sufficient knowledge of German) was included in the case of the CATI, for field access (HIS/HES) the sample was limited in the upper age range.
Data access and data services:
The data are available on application to interested scientists as de facto anonymized data for scientific secondary analysis. Access to the data is provided in the form of a public use file on CD-ROM and can be extended as part of a cooperation agreement. More detailed information on access, application forms and guidelines can be found on our homepage http://www.rki.de/puf.