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    1100 West 49th Street
    Austin, Texas 78756-3199
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    Mailing address
    Center for Health Statistics
    Department of Health State Services
    Mail code: 1898
    Austin, TX 78741-9347

    Phone: (512) 776-7261     

    COVID-19 inquiries:  chs-info@dshs.texas.gov
    General inquiries: chs-info@dshs.texas.gov

Frequently Asked Questions

What are age-adjusted rates?

Most disease rates vary by the population age. To compare rates between two areas or two time periods, differences in the age structure of the population may introduce apparent differences in the rates. To account for differences in age structure, the rates can be adjusted by applying age-specific rates to a "standard" population.

Where can I get the "morbidity rate" for my area?

The term "morbidity" refers to the presence of illness of any kind. Morbidity is usually measured as an incidence rate or prevalence rate of a particular disease rather than an overall morbidity rate. Some diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS are required to be reported to public health authorities. Other diseases like influenza have no reporting requirements. For some of the non-reportable diseases, we get estimates of the rates from active surveillance programs or special research studies. See TDH Disease (Morbidity) Data Sources for links to TDH disease rate data.

How can I get a copy of a birth or death certificate?

You can order a copy of a birth or death certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics by regular mail, by overnight mail, by fax, or in-person at various locations throughout the state. See Ordering Birth or Death Certificates for details.

What's the difference between population projections and estimates?

Population estimates are generated for current and past years based on numerous factors including births, deaths, school enrollment, voter registration, vehicle registration, and housing unit data. Population projections are generated for future years based on fertility, mortality and migration trends. The Texas Health and Human Services Enterprise exclusively uses population projections based on the 2000 to 2010 census migration scenario, also referred to as the 1.0 migration scenario.  Additionally, HHSC uses population projections for reports and presentations as opposed to population estimates.  Once released, population estimates are unlikely to change; projections for Texas, however, are updated biennially as more accurate data become available. See information at the Texas State Data Center for details.

How can I get ranked data?

Ranked health data by Texas county is available in our report County Ranking by Selected Demographic and Public Health Measures. You can also download or cut-and-paste the data tables on our web site into a spreadsheet or database and sort the data as desired. For rare events or small populations, however, care should be exercised interpreting ranked data due to large possible statistical variation in the values.

Why are some public health regions in Texas sometimes combined?

There are 11 public health regions but 8 regional offices. Health statistics are usually summarized for each of the 11 public health regions but some programs summarize data for the 8 administrative regions. See Texas County Numbers and Public Health Regions for details.

What's the difference between county numbers and county FIPS codes?

Texas counties have both a county number and a county FIPS code. The county number is a sequential number from 1 to 254. The county FIPS code is assigned by the US Census Bureau and consists of the state FIPS code (48) followed by a three digit number for each county. See Texas County Numbers and Public Health Regions for details.

How are rural/urban area classifications determined?

There are numerous rural/urban classification systems available. Some have two classes (rural and urban), others have a spectrum of values representing degrees of rural character or urban influence. Some are based on counties, others on census tract or ZIP code. On these pages, "urban" is typically defined as a county within a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as delineated by the Census's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

How are the SMRC and MMRC race/ethnicity categories determined?

DSHS and the Center for Health Statistics categorize public health and population data by race/ethnicity categories as determined by the Texas State Data Center (TXSDC). Following the 2010 Census, TXSDC revised how the four main race/ethnicity categories – Anglo, Black, Hispanic, and Other – were defined. Population estimates before 2010 are categorized exclusively according to previous race definitions, which are referred to on this website as “Mixed Multi-Race Categories” or “MMRC”. Population estimates from 2011 and beyond and all population projections are exclusively categorized according to the newer race definition, called “Single Multi-Race Categories” or “SMRC”. Population estimates for 2010 are offered on this website in both MMRC and SMRC.

Under the SMRC definition, the Hispanic category includes all individuals who identify ethnically as Hispanic, regardless of whether they also identify racially as white, black, other, or as belonging to multiple racial groups. As such, the Anglo category consists of non-Hispanic, single-race whites, the Black category consists of non-Hispanic, single-race blacks, and the Other category is comprised of all remaining non-Hispanic, single-race individuals and all multi-race individuals.

MMRC differs slightly in that non-Hispanic, multi-race individuals were not exclusively classified as Other. Under the MMRC definition, any person identifying as non-Hispanic black and one other race would be counted in the Black category, while any person identifying as non-Hispanic white and one other race, not including black, would be counted in the Anglo category. Non-Hispanic individuals of two races, provided neither of the races were black or white, were classified as Other.  Non-Hispanic individuals claiming three or more races were categorized as Other regardless of whether white and/or black were included, as they are in SMRC.  Beyond this scenario, SMRC and MMRC population data on this site are the same.

There are two differences between the SMRC and MMRC schemes:

  • A) An individual identified as non-Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, and white on the recent census:
    • SMRC - This individual would be classified as Other.
    • MMRC - This individual would be classified as Anglo.
  • B) An individual identified as Hispanic, black, and Filipino on the recent census:
    • SMRC & MMRC - This individual would be classified as Hispanic.

In terms of relative size, the Other group was most affected by the transition from MMRC to SMRC, as it absorbed multi-race individuals who were previously classified as Anglo or Black. For example, in the 2010 statewide population totals, the Other category increases by 281,661 people, or approximately 25%, when you transition from MMRC to SMRC. The Black and Anglo categories decrease with SMRC, but by relatively smaller percentages. Hispanic totals do not differ between MMRC and SMRC.

As an additional note, before the 2000 Census respondents were not able to select multiple races unless they selected "other" and wrote multiple races in the blank provided.  In these situations the Census classified the individuals according to the first race they wrote down, which is functionally very similar to the process used for pooling the Other category in 2000-2009.  Despite the slight differences, for the purposes of data on our website we consider the 1990-1999 population estimates to be MMRC.

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Last updated November 26, 2019