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NORC's work supplies insight for informed decisions. NORC Researcher in 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

2009 - 2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and coordinated through the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs provides data on the health care needs of special needs children. More

2010 Census Integrated Communications Program Evaluation. NORC was selected to conduct a rigorous and independent evaluation of the communications campaign for the 2010 Census to assess the campaign's success and help preparations for the 2020 Census. More

Evaluation Study Design for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) contracted with NORC to develop an evaluation study design to better understand and assess the effectiveness of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP). NORC was tasked with building the evidence base on LTCOPs in order to develop recommendations for a rigorous and comprehensive study design that investigates program efficiency and program effectiveness at multiple levels, including the resident/family, facility, local/state/program, and federal levels. The effort was led by NORC with extensive input from the ACL and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that was created to guide and inform the overall research objectives and design of the project. Key tasks involved the development of a family of logic models and  a set of overarching research questions as well as the identification of data collection tools and sources. More

Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration. On this project, NORC is teaming with IMPAQ International and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors to provide technical and analytic assistance to CMS for the design, implementation, and monitoring of the 3‐year Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration.  More

National Children's Study (NCS). The National Children’s Study will examine the effects of the environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21 years. More

See all Special Populations projects

Headlines

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