22 Sep

STATcompiler Grows Up: 500+ New Indicators and a Mobile-Friendly Interface

In 1999, The DHS Program released the first STATcompiler.  It was designed to replicate the tables in the tabulation plan of the DHS final reports at the time.  Now, more than 15 years later, that database has reached “antique” status. While the user interface did get an overhaul in 2011, technology has continued to move ahead at lightning speed, with more users accessing DHS tools on mobile devices and expecting more advanced visualizations and a modern design.

In September 2015, The DHS Program released a new STATcompiler, currently as a “Beta” site.  The Beta STATcompiler is built around an updated and newly harmonized database, and is experienced through a modern, mobile-friendly user interface.

The old STATcompiler tool will remain available, but new surveys and indicators will not be added to that database, so orient yourself to the new tool today!

What’s new about the new STATcompiler?

More than 500 new indicators, reflecting current DHS data collection and reporting.
 In particular, the STATcompiler now has indicators on female genital cutting, domestic violence, new malaria indicators, and maternal mortality ratios.



Tagging. Many people use STATcompiler to find key reporting indicators, but it is challenging to find those specific indicators in the huge list of DHS data.  The new tagging functionality allows users to see curated lists, by international indicator groups such as the MDGs or specialized topics, like gender.


. DHS data users know a brief indicator title rarely captures enough technical information.  Our new “indicator details” box provides full definitions, denominators, and whether the data value is a rate, a percentage, a median, or a ratio.



New visualizations.  We are always looking for new and better ways to visualize DHS data.  The mapping functionality in the new STATcompiler now includes a pop-up box that summarizes the national trends or range of subnational values for viewing alongside the map.



Confidence intervals.  While all survey statistics have an assumed degree of error, those associated with rare events, particularly HIV prevalence and maternal mortality ratios, have relatively large confidence intervals which make interpretation of trends and comparisons especially tricky.  In this new iteration of STATcompiler, the confidence intervals for HIV prevalence and maternal mortality ratio are included, as a default, in all data views.



Mobile friendly user interface.  STATcompiler is now easily accessed through mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads.


Use of the public DHS Program API.  The data in the Beta STATcompiler are coming straight from the database that is accessible via the public Application Programming Interface (API).  This means that we are using the same data in our applications that you can use in yours.


We welcome your feedback about the Beta STATcompiler.  Please note that all STATcompiler data have been recalculated and DHS staff are still in the process of verifying the accuracy and completeness of the data.  If you see something you suspect is incorrect, please email us at statcompiler@dhsprogram.com.

14 Sep

Sampling and Weighting with DHS Data

At long last, The DHS Program has released two videos which demonstrate how to weight DHS data, concluding the Sampling and Weighting video series.

2012 Tajikistan DHS

2012 Tajikistan DHS

The first video in the series, Introduction to DHS Sampling Procedures, as well as the second
video, Introduction of Principles of DHS Sampling Weights, explained the basic concepts of sampling and weighting in The DHS Program surveys using the 2012 Tajikistan DHS survey as an example. Read our introductory blog post for more details.

In contrast, the third and fourth videos use an Example Practice Dataset, so viewers can practice weighting DHS data and replicate what is being shown in the videos while they are watching. The Example Practice Dataset was specifically created for DHS data users to have hands-on practice using DHS data in different statistical packages (Stata, SPSS and SAS) and does not represent the data of any actual country.

The third video, How to Weight DHS Data in Stata, explains which weight to use based on the unit of analysis, describes the steps of weighting DHS data in Stata and demonstrates both ways to weight DHS data in Stata (simple weighting and weighting that accounts for the complex survey design).


The fourth video, Demonstration on How to Weight DHS Data in SPSS and SAS, is the same as the third video, except it uses the statistical software packages SPSS and SAS instead of Stata.

After watching these videos, you will be able to answer the following questions:

  • Which weights should I use for my analysis?
  • What are the steps of weighting data in a statistical software package?
  • How do I weight DHS data in Stata, SPSS or SAS?
  • How do I account for the complex sample design when weighting in Stata, SPSS or SAS?

If you have more questions, visit the user forum!

What did you learn from the sampling and weighting videos? What would you like to explore further? Comment below!

08 Sep

4 Key Features of The DHS Program Mobile App v2.0

The DHS Program mobile app was first released in September 2013. Now, two years later, we are ready with the latest version: meet The DHS Program Mobile App v2.0!

The home page of The DHS Program Mobile App v2.0

Many changes have been made, but the key features of v2.0 include:

  1. Access to new data

2014 Egypt DHS Survey Information

Data is retrieved from the newly revised STATcompiler database through The DHS Program API. Basically, you are guaranteed access to the most recent data.

  1. Access to more indicators

Examples of new indicators.

The first version of the mobile app contained data on 24 indicators. With the update, you have access to 101 more – for a total of 125 indicators!

As long as you are connected to the internet, all data are immediately available. If you are offline, you can still access national level data for all indicators and background characteristics for the original 24 indicators.

For offline access to background characteristics of the 101 new indicators, you can download a specific country’s data package. This leads us to the next feature…

  1. Downloadable & customizable data packages

    Downloading the full Peru data package.

You now have the option to download data packages of countries of your choosing. This way you gain access to the complete set of data while offline.

Once downloaded onto your device, it is available at all times. For example, say you download a data package at an internet café. Once you are offline, it will still be there until you clear it.

  1. New design & easy navigation

Sortable bar charts.

v2.0 is both visually appealing and user-friendly, from the ‘hamburger’ stack menu to the sortable bar charts of indicator data.

Download the new version and see it for yourself! We hope you love it as much as we do.

If you already have the app, your device will prompt you to update. Otherwise, you can download it below.

For iOS: Download here

For AndroidDownload here

02 Sep

Spotlight on New Staff: Natalie La Roche


Natalie La Roche

Name: Natalie La Roche

Position title:  Desktop Publishing Specialist

Languages spoken: English

When not working, favorite place to visit:  The beach

Favorite type of cuisine: Italian and Asian

Last good book you read: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

Where would we find you on a Saturday? Spending time outdoors; spending time with family; walking my dog.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: May 2014

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now? Lovely souvenirs brought back from others’ travels.

2013 Gambia DHS

2013 Gambia DHS

What is your favorite survey final report cover? 2013 The Gambia DHS Final Report cover.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  Through The DHS Program’s website.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about? Why? Female genital cutting (FGC) and fistula. Because both are physically and emotionally harmful to females, yet preventable with outreach and education.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position? Helping produce international reports that contribute to positive health outcomes in developing countries.


14 Aug

Don’t Waste Time – Download DHS Citations!

If you’ve recently written an academic paper, you probably used reference management software, such as Endnote, Zotero, Mendeley, or RefWorks, to organize and import your references.  And if you’re a DHS data user, you probably have a handful of DHS analytical, comparative, or methodological reports that you regularly refer to.

Now, you can download our recommended citations directly into your reference management software.  We have standardized and updated over 400 citations – including full abstracts – to make your searching and referencing of DHS analytical, comparative, trend, and other reports faster and easier.

Downloadable citations are available in one of two ways:

  1. Individually: On the individual publications summary page for analytical,
    comparative, and methodological reports, we have listed the recommended citation, which matches the recommended citation published in the front matter of the hard copy reports. We have also included a link to the downloadable citation in Endnote (ENW), other database (RIS), or plain text format citations.

    Downloading an individual citation of a specific publication.

  2. As a full library: On our newly created Citing DHS Data page, you can download a full library of all the Endnote or RIS citations we have currently available, including abstracts and attribution notes.  This will allow you to organize and search for relevant DHS studies and add your own research notes directly from within your reference management software.

    citations blog 3

    Full library of citations when downloaded.

If you have any questions, please post in the Publications thread of The DHS Program User Forum.

Coming soon…  In 2015-2016, The DHS Program will be expanding the citations library to include all DHS final reports. Stay tuned!

03 Aug

Reflections on the Journalist Workshop in Togo

Tuesday began with a torrential downpour; the roads in Lomé were nearly impassable. I was certain that I was going to be late for the journalist workshop. The taxi dropped me off at the wrong entrance, and I had to wait nearly 20 minutes to cross the open-air plaza to reach the correct conference room without being drenched.  This was not how my return to Togo was supposed to happen.


© 2004 Anna Maria Omura, Courtesy of Photoshare

Since joining The DHS Program in 2010, I’ve eagerly awaited the next Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in Togo (the last Togo DHS was 1998). I served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Togo from 2003-2005, working on community health and HIV prevention. My Peace Corps experience led me to pursue a career in public health, and now I had the opportunity to go back and work in Togo again.

Togo DHS 2013 Cover Final.indd

Togo 2013-2014 DHS

DHS data is meant to guide evidence-based decisionmaking to improve the health and living conditions in countries worldwide. As such, several dissemination activities were planned to ensure the results of 2013-14 Togo Demographic and Health Survey were available to program planners and policymakers.

Journalists are a key audience because their reporting can reach both high-level decision makers, as well as individuals who can organize grass roots efforts at the community level. The staff at the Institute Nationale de la Statistique et les Études Économiques de la Démographie (INSEED), the organization that implemented the 2013-14 Togo DHS, were eager to help journalists better understand how to correctly use and report on data. They also recruited Pao GADIEL, a health and development journalist from Santé Education, to co-facilitate the workshop.


Pao GADIEL prepares for his presentation.

Despite the bad weather, there was an excellent turnout with approximately 40 print, radio, and television journalists in attendance. Kossi TETE from INSEED led an activity on how to correctly read and understand tables from the DHS. INSEED led the panel discussion on the survey results, which gave journalists the opportunity to ask individual questions about the data. Pao GADIEL presented on best practices for using data in reporting, and led an activity where journalists brainstormed ideas for future stories that would use data from the 2013-14 DHS.

Journalists were particularly interested in the data on HIV prevalence, malaria prevalence and women’s status. Maybe the morning’s deluge was a good omen, because the workshop was rousing success.

14 Jul

Linking DHS Data with Health Facility Data: Opportunities and Challenges

For 30 years, The DHS Program has asked women hundreds of questions about their utilization of various health care services, including family planning, antenatal and delivery care, vaccination and treatment of sick children, malaria treatment, and HIV prevention and treatment. In 1999, The DHS Program started collecting facility-level data through the Service Provision Assessment (SPA) survey. The SPA interviews providers and clients, takes stock of facility supplies and equipment, and observes provider-client consultations.  



Many people hoped that the two datasets would be easy to link for a deeper understanding of how people access services, the quality of services, and the association between access to services and health outcomes in a given country.  And because most recent DHS and SPA surveys are geo-coded (DHS since 2000 and SPA since 2009), that is, clusters and facilities are identified with their latitude and longitude, linking the data through a geographic information system should be easy, right?

Several studies have looked at using geospatial analysis to link DHS and SPA data to answer these larger questions about access to and utilization of health care services.  There are several challenges to this type of linkage. A major concern is sampling: the DHS and SPA surveys have different sampling frames and are rarely conducted in the same year. Most SPAs are samples of the health care facilities in the country, not a census. Many individuals surveyed in a DHS likely visit some of the health facilities that were not selected for the SPA. So just because a woman’s cluster is closest to a certain facility included in the SPA does not mean that that is the facility the woman visits.

CaseSTudy_figure_CropIn addition, to protect the identity of respondents, the GPS locations of DHS cluster points are geo-masked. In densely populated areas, this means that clusters may be moved away from their closest health facilities, making linkage based on geographic location less accurate. There’s also a practical concern: the DHS does not ask where individuals receive health care but rather only the type of facility where they sought care. While some people probably use their closest health facility, this is not always the case.  People may choose health facilities based on quality, specialty, cost, or anonymity, not just proximity.

SAR10Despite the challenges there have been several successful analyses linking DHS and SPA data, and program managers and researchers continue to explore the best use cases for DHS-SPA linkage.  This will be the topic of our upcoming DHS webinar on July 28th, “Considerations when Linking DHS Household Data to Data on Health Facilities and Infrastructure.”  Clara Burgert, The DHS Program’s GIS Coordinator and author of the recently released Spatial Analysis Report “Linking DHS Household and SPA Facility Surveys: Data Considerations and Geospatial Methods”  will be making a presentation on the DHS-SPA linkage opportunities and challenges.  Interested participants can register for the webinar here, and are encouraged to read SAR10 and post discussion questions for Clara and her co-authors on The DHS Program User Forum here.

09 Jul

Beyond Data Analysis: Collaboration and Capacity Strengthening

Participants from Nigeria, Uganda, and Malawi collaborate on interpreting malaria data.

Participants from Nigeria, Uganda, and Malawi work together to interpret malaria data.

Have you ever been to a workshop that combined interactive PowerPoints, fun hands-on activities, malaria indicator trivia games, and lots and lots of data analysis? No? Well then, you haven’t taken part in a Regional DHS/MIS Malaria Analysis Workshop hosted by The DHS Program. The malaria analysis team recently hosted two such regional workshops, one in Tanzania and the other in Senegal, with more than 30 participants representing 13 African countries.

Participants worked in country teams of 2-3 people to answer a pre-identified malaria-related research question through analysis of DHS/MIS data in Stata. While some people might cringe at the thought of an eight day data analysis workshop, in true DHS fashion there was nothing boring about this workshop. Activities throughout the workshops were designed to encompass a range of adult learning techniques – interactive PowerPoints, guided demonstrations, hands-on exercises, and small group activities were all used. The workshops culminated with each team presenting a conceptual framework, key variables, analytic methods, and preliminary results.

Chinazo Ujuju from Society for Family Health in Abuja, Nigeria reflects, “As a researcher I have the drive to analyze available data to provide relevant information for evidence-based public health interventions in my country, Nigeria. Attending the DHS/MIS data analysis workshop has equipped me with the skills to better analyze DHS and MIS datasets using Stata software. I am now competent in multivariate analysis of these datasets. I hope to use my skills to provide information for malaria programming with the ultimate goal of ensuring that relevant information are available to inform policy decisions that would improve global health.

Participants from Senegal work on their data analysis

Participants from Senegal work on their data analysis

Fankeba Souradji of Togo comments, “Je profite pour dire merci aux facilitateurs pour la qualité de la formation. Nous vous en sommes très reconnaissants.”

Though the workshop focused on strengthening data analysis skills, participants also enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate and learn from colleagues from other countries.

Nabila Hemed from the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) in Tanzania says, “The Regional DHS/MIS analysis workshop has been a wonderful seminar that has brought together professionals of various degrees of experience. The first time I worked with DHS was two years ago. After attending this workshop I learned different issues, limits, and challenges that should be considered during analysis of DHS data. The best part was hearing various country contexts and the effects in data analysis. This helped me understand the impact of research and program decisions during analysis of DHS data. I joined this workshop under the notion that I would simply learn how to analyze to DHS data and how to use Stata. However, I got so much more than what I expected! I received a handful of knowledge and resources that I will definitely use and share with my colleagues at work.”

Participants discuss data use for decision making in a fishbowl discussion session

Participants discuss data use for decision making in a fishbowl discussion session

Though both workshops are complete, country teams are continuing work on their research proposals and abstracts. The DHS Program looks forward to seeing the final products from the workshops in upcoming scientific journals and conferences.

24 Jun

DHS Data Now Available in Integrated, Customized Package from the Minnesota Population Center

Have you ever wished that you could download just one dataset for multiple surveys with all of the data you want for your analysis in one file? And that the dataset wasn’t so huge and overwhelming? And that the variables in the dataset were all harmonized?

Integrated Demographic and Health Series

Integrated Demographic and Health Series

The Minnesota Population Center has been working on the Integrated Demographic and Health Series (IDHS), a free online database that currently includes over 2,000 integrated variables from 76 DHS surveys in 18 countries. (If you know IPUMS data, these are the DHS equivalent.) These variables are harmonized for consistency across time and across countries. The IDHS are also painstakingly documented, letting you, the researcher, know how different items have been defined and coded, with each variable’s codes and frequencies, question wording, universe, meaning, and comparability issues accessible with just a click. The variable selection tool lets you see, at a glance, which surveys have included that specific variable, allowing you to select the variables and surveys you need for your analysis. The customized datasets come packaged with the survey year and country, weights, identifiers, and other sampling variables needed for analysis, and in the format you chose (SAS, Stata, SPSS, ASCII, or CSV file).

IDHS - Use of Family Planning Variables

IDHS – Use of Family Planning Variables

IDHS data are currently available for 18 countries and 76 surveys, allowing for comparative analysis for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as India and Egypt. All of the countries included have had at least 3 DHS surveys dating back to the 1980s, so these harmonized datasets are perfect for trend analysis. Researchers can select either women or children as their unit of analysis. The variables cover questions about the woman herself, such as her education, media exposure, marital history, contraceptive knowledge and use, family size desires, experience of domestic violence, and knowledge about illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and fistula. Other questions relate to the health of the woman’s children under 5, such as antenatal and delivery care, nutrition, vaccinations, and recent diarrheal and respiratory illnesses and treatment.

What’s the difference between IDHS data and DHS datasets? Who should use IDHS data? 

DHS datasets continue to be available for download from The DHS Program website by country. The datasets include all of the data collected in a survey. If you are looking to analyze a single data set, the DHS datasets are likely your best bet. But for a multi survey analysis (among the 18 countries currently included in the IDHS and limited to the women and children), try the harmonized packages from IDHS.

What’s next?

IDHS has funding to continue this project through 2016 and will seek continued funding for another five years of work. They will continue launching data from more countries, new DHS surveys as they become available, and  hope to expand to cover men and households.

17 Jun

Spotlight on New Staff: Hamdy Moussa

Hamdy Moussa

Hamdy Moussa

Name: Hamdy Moussa

Position title: Survey Manager, Service Provision Assessment (SPA) Surveys

Languages spoken: Arabic and English

When not working, favorite place to visit: New York and Cairo

Favorite type of cuisine: Mediterranean and Italian

Last good book you read: Health Systems Performance Assessment: Debates, Methods and Empiricism, WHO

Where would we find you on a Saturday? With my family for outdoor activities and exploring the Washington metropolitan area.

First time you worked with DHS survey data: 2004 Egypt Service Provision Assessment Survey

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now? 2014 Bangladesh Health Facility Survey (BHFS) as well as plans for the 2015 Egypt Service Provision Assessment Survey (ESPA) and 2015 Jordan Service Provision Assessment Survey (JSPA)

2012 Jordan DHS Final Report

2012 Jordan PFHS Final Report

What is your favorite survey final report cover? The 2012 Jordan Population and Family Health Survey with the wonderful photo of the monastery in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  Knowledge and prevalence of hepatitis C, as hepatitis C represents a major challenge to the health system in Egypt.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data? The website.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  Viral hepatitis is a critical public health issue in Egypt. The 2008 EDHS provided Egypt with the first nationally representative data on the scope of hepatitis C epidemic in Egypt. The survey found that 15% of women and men age 15-59 years had antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in their blood, and 10% had an active HCV infection that represents a major challenge to the health system in Egypt.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position? First to be fully integrated in both SPA and DHS surveys, and second to manage more SPA surveys in different countries.

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? I am bringing my technical, consulting skills in health systems and biomarkers, and looking forward to learning more from the distinguished DHS Program staff.

The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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