25 Jun 2019

DHS Data Users: More than 2,000 Users Accessing DHS Data through IPUMS-DHS

Students presenting posters using IPUMS-DHS data at the first-ever Student Poster Extravaganza

If you are interested in being featured in the ‘DHS Data Users’ blog series, let us know here by submitting your example of DHS Program data use. 


Over the past four years, the IPUMS-DHS program has grown substantially, in both the magnitude of available data and in use. As of June 2019, more than 2,000 users have accessed the IPUMS-DHS database, and multiple papers have been published using DHS data through IPUMS-DHS.

One of the advantages of accessing DHS data through IPUMS-DHS is that variables are harmonized across surveys, facilitating comparative research. Recent research using IPUMS-DHS data highlight innovative methods and fascinating results:

This year, IPUMS announced its first-ever IPUMS-DHS Award, an honor given to outstanding use of IPUMS-DHS data. The winning paper, Neonatal mortality in East Africa and West Africa: a geographic analysis of district-level demographic and health survey data (Grady et al., Geospatial Health 2017 volume 12:501) identifies high-risk districts and counties for neonatal mortality. This analysis aims to help prioritize intervention sites for countries as they strive to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

IPUMS-DHS is also being used to train the next generation of analysts and data users. The Quantitative Global Health Analysis course taught at the University of Minnesota this spring relied on IPUMS-DHS as a primary data source for its students. Final products were research posters using the data. Research questions explored by students analyzing IPUMS-DHS data included:

  • How Violence against Women Affects Fertility and Family Planning in Uganda
  • Changes in and Predictors of Antenatal Care for Women in Mali
  • Effects of Family Size and Food Insecurity on Child Mortality in Ethiopia
  • Understanding Variation in Vaccination Status in Ethiopia
  • Vitamin A Vaccination and Deficiency in Uganda
  • Perceptions of HIV/AIDS in India in the Context of Education

IPUMS-DHS Data Update: As of June 2019, the IPUMS-DHS database includes 156 samples from 38 countries and nearly 15,000 consistently coded variables, including all standard DHS variables from DHS Phases 1 through 7 and many country-specific variables. Learn more on our website and read our previous blogs on the IPUMS-DHS collaboration here.

© 2019 Students presenting posters using IPUMS-DHS data at the first-ever Student Poster Extravaganza at the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation.

12 Jun 2019

Luminare: The Senegal Continuous Survey

This blog post is part of Luminare, our new blog series exploring innovative solutions to data collection, quality assurance, biomarker measurement, data use, and further analysis.


Two needs are often expressed by both DHS host countries and donors: 1) for data to be made available more frequently, and 2) for the continued strengthening of implementing agencies’ capacity to conduct surveys. Among various innovations that The DHS Program has pursued to respond to these needs is the Continuous Survey (CS) model.

What is a Continuous Survey?

In a CS, data are collected and reported annually by a permanently maintained office and field staff.  A smaller sample size is designed to provide estimates at the national level and for urban/rural residence every year. For regional-level estimates, data are pooled over multiple consecutive phases. Through both the smaller sample and continuously maintained staff, the model can lower costs and institutionalize the implementing agency’s ability to conduct a DHS survey. In 2004, Peru became the first country to conduct a CS, and the effort is still ongoing.

How did Senegal implement a Continuous Survey?

Inspired by the Peru experience, USAID and The DHS Program piloted the CS model in Africa. Senegal was chosen for its long survey history and the capacity of the local implementing agency, Agence Nationale de la Statistique et la Démographie (ANSD). The Senegal Continuous Survey (SCS) expanded on the original model to include an annual facility-based Continuous Service Provision Assessment (C-SPA), in addition to the household-based Continuous Demographic and Health Survey (C-DHS). The SCS was conducted in five phases, spanning the period from 2012 to 2018.

Covers from final reports from each of the five phases of the SCS.

What were the successes and challenges of the SCS?

ANSD partnered with Le Soleil newspaper to create an 8-page spread highlighting results from the 2016 SCS.

The SCS demonstrated many successes. Senegal is the only country in Africa to annually collect nationally representative demographic and health data, allowing Senegal to monitor progress towards the SDGs every year. This was also the first time a country releases both facility and household data at the same time. This model of releasing C-SPA data annually and in conjunction with the C-DHS resulted in flourishing data use for both surveys.

The SCS greatly strengthened capacity in Senegal. ANSD is now capable of conducting DHS and SPA surveys with only limited technical assistance. ANSD has the initiative to move beyond the pilot to implement the 2018 SCS with limited technical assistance and is already continuing the annual surveys.

Most surveys encounter challenges, and, in the Senegal experience, CS-specific design challenges emerged. Some stakeholders were concerned about the approach of pooling two consecutive years of CS data to generate a large enough sample size for regional-level estimates. Additionally, a census and an updated health facility master list in Senegal during the SCS pilot period resulted in new sampling frames for both the C-DHS and the C-SPA, and subsequent challenges in data interpretation. Finally, survey dissemination activities overlapped with the next phase’s design and implementation activities, increasing the burden on ANSD.

The CS model demands an overlap of activities. While one phase moves toward dissemination, planning is already occurring for the next phase of data collection, as evidenced in the SCS pilot experience.

Lessons learned from the SCS experience will inform The DHS Program’s continued efforts to innovate in the areas of data collection and use.

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Anthropometry measurement (height and weight) is a core component of DHS surveys that is used to generate indicators on nutritional status. The Biomarker Questionnaire now includes questions on clothing and hairstyle interference on measurements for both women and children for improved interpretation.