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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The ASPR Sandy Dataset

What do people need to know to make solid decisions about health after a disaster? What would help people recover more quickly from a disaster? What information would help healthcare systems recover? These types of questions are most effectively answered by examining large sets of data - big data - about health services.

Past studies that use administrative claims data make assumptions about a patient’s exposure to the storm, often using county-level damage assessments. While such studies can yield valuable public health information, their findings are imprecise because not everyone in a given county or other geographic region is impacted equally by a disaster.

For Hurricane Sandy recovery researchers, ASPR found a way to improve the research process: linking the data available through multiple federal agencies so that the outcomes for individual (but unidentified) patients can be followed using various non-medical criteria. These datasets are compiled from patient data and medical and housing claims data in a way that protects patient privacy. As such, they do not include fields for such information as patient name, but can include de-identified data on the amount of damage sustained by a patient’s home, or the length of time a patient was without electricity.

This Sandy dataset represents the first time ASPR has compiled and linked this type of data for researchers. The lessons learned from this process will pave the way for similar research projects to be initiated more swiftly after future disasters. It’s an important step toward ensuring that health services researchers can gain prompt access to important sources of data to answer pressing – potentially lifesaving – questions about response, recovery, and preparedness.

ASPR funded all of the projects using the ASPR Sandy Dataset, which includes the following projects:

Post Hurricane Sandy Implementation of a Regional Public Health Surveillance System in Long Island

Applicant Institution:  The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

This research is ongoing. The project will use administrative claims data from the ASPR Hurricane Sandy Dataset to investigate the differential health effects of Hurricane Sandy between Medicare/Medicaid and non-Medicare/Medicaid populations.

Assessing the Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Healthcare Facility Infrastructure and the Health of Elderly Residents

Applicant Institution:  The New York State Department of Health

This research is ongoing. The project will use the ASPR Hurricane Sandy Dataset to  assess the health impacts of Hurricane Sandy on elderly residents in affected areas of New York State, evaluate the infrastructure and surge capacity of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and develop a predictive model and risk assessment tools to predict and mitigate the impact of future storms on the elderly. 

Real-Time Geographic Analysis of Emergency Department and Healthcare Utilization Data Identifying Early Warning Indicators to Guide Disaster Recovery and Response

Applicant Institution:  New York University

This research is ongoing. The project will use the ASPR Hurricane Sandy Dataset to determine whether early, real-time data from prehospital, emergency department, and overall healthcare utilization can predict the geographic regions and vulnerable populations most affected by natural disasters.

Health Consequences of Disaster-Related Disruptions in Home and Community-Based Supports

Applicant Institution:  Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

This research is ongoing. The project will use the ASPR Hurricane Sandy Dataset to determine how environmental changes impact older adult health care utilization in the months following a disaster, and inform healthcare providers and policy makers of the unintended downstream health consequences of disaster-related disruptions in housing and community-based healthcare facilities.

  • This page last reviewed: November 18, 2015