Getting Started

Nationally representative surveys are designed to collect data on monitoring and impact evaluation indicators important for individual countries and for cross-country comparisons.  Working with survey indicators requires a basic understanding of the types of information being collected and a basic understanding of statistics. This section provides an introductory overview to understanding The DHS Program data and is meant to be a helpful tool for all data users. It can be an aid for those who are just starting out in using data as well as for those whose skills are more advanced.

What Survey Data Are Collected?

Types of Data Collected
The DHS Program collects data using survey questionnaires, biomarker testing, and geographic location.

Survey Types
The types of data collected varies by survey type and individual survey although standardized indicators and methodologies are used to every extent possible.

Completed Surveys
The DHS Program has conducted over 300 surveys in over 90 countries. A list of completed and ongoing surveys is available for browsing and includes key characteristics of each survey.

How Are Survey Data Processed?

Survey data are processed and presented in the final survey report containing a number of tables that provide information on specific indicators in a country. These tables are designed to be comparable between surveys and across countries.

Data processing references include:

  • An overview of the Data Processing Methodology for how survey data is processed, reviewed for accuracy and quality, and finally tabulated and prepared for final release.
  • An introduction to the Data Tabulation Plan which defines model tables to set forth the major findings of a survey in a manner that will be useful to policy makers and program managers.
  • An overview of the Data Editing and Imputation policies that ensure consistent data.
  • A review of issues related to Data Quality and Use.

What Survey Indicators Are Available?

Download Datasets

The DHS Program is authorized to distribute, at no cost, unrestricted survey data files for legitimate academic research. Registration is required for access to data.

Guide to Using Datasets