Boy receiving a vaccination A discussion in NORC'S Hyde Park office Informal Chat in Hyde Park Academic Research Center White Board Homeless man Men in a Bar NORC staff in the hallway in the Bethesda office

Special Populations

Sometimes visible to us, but more often hidden in plain sight, special populations inhabit the margins of our society, each with a unique set of needs. Ethnic minorities, veterans, disabled people, prison inmates, refugees and immigrants, children, and the elderly all face complex challenges as they strive to attain the advantages that other groups enjoy. Recent political events have added more pressure, such as increased U.S. military operations that have produced more veterans with special needs. Meanwhile, the weakening of traditional sources of economic stability, like home ownership, places special populations at even greater risk of hardship.

NORC helps government and organizations understand, evaluate—even manage—the programs and interventions that support these special populations and improve their circumstances. We have worked in this area since the 1950s, concentrating at that time on rural residents and welfare recipients. In the mid 1970s, NORC partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a longitudinal study to evaluate the efficacy of the Experimental Housing Allowance Program. The 1980s brought new insights about disadvantaged ethnic groups when NORC partnered with distinguished sociologist William Julius Wilson on the Urban Poverty and Family Life Survey of Chicago. More recently, NORC leveraged its extensive work on the National Immunization Survey (using the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey data collection mechanism) to develop separate surveys on adoptive parents and children with special needs.

Today, NORC’s work emphasizes healthcare and other issues that touch multiple special populations. For example, our work with the Department of Veterans examines healthcare access for rural veterans living far from urban veterans’ hospitals. We also designed a multi-mode data collection and feasibility study on the natural history of children born with Spina Bifida; served as a partner on the highly complex, award-winning HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study; and continue to serve in an information management role for the Traumatic Brain Injury Technical Assistance Center.

Key to any work on special populations is knowing the right questions to ask and asking them in a highly sensitive manner. NORC brings this expertise, a broad understanding of quantitative and qualitative methodology, and deep knowledge about health information technology to uncover the insights that lead to effective decision making and planning.

Specific areas of expertise include:

Representative Projects

2012 NORC Presidential Election Study. The 2012 NORC Presidential Election Study was conducted in the weeks prior to the Presidential election to measure public opinion about important issues the country faces – economic recovery, health care costs, and extreme partisanship. More

Aging Services Technology Study. Under contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), NORC is conducting a study on aging services technology.  This study is mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  More

General Social Survey (GSS). Since 1972, the General Social Survey (GSS) has been monitoring societal change and studying the growing complexity of American society. The GSS is NORC’s longest running project, and one of its most influential. More

Men’s Assessment of Social Support and Risk Networks. The goal of the Men’s Assessment of Social Support and Risk Networks was to pilot test recruitment procedures and questionnaires to assess the influence of social networks and norms and beliefs of a racially and ethnically diverse sample of men who have sex with men (MSM) on their sex and sex-drug risk and risk reduction practices.   More

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), sponsored and funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the youth-focused component of the National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) Program – a set of surveys used to gather information on the labor market experiences of American men and women.  The National Longitudinal Surveys are conducted jointly by the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) and NORC at the University of Chicago.  More

See all Special Populations projects

Headlines

News The Huffington Post: GSS data shows the increase of support for same-sex marriage in the United States More
Posted: 3.12.2015 5:42PM
News UChicago News: Senior Fellow Dan Black discusses the Great Migration More
Posted: 3.12.2015 5:23PM
News The Associated Press: The AP-NORC Center looked at GSS survey data that showed increased support for same-sex marriage More
Posted: 3.12.2015 5:14PM
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