NORC Researcher in Bethesda Office A work session in NORC's Bethesda offices
Impromptu meeting in NORC Chicago Loop office Homeless man NORC's work supplies insight for informed decisions. Whiteboard Boy receiving a vaccination

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

Developing and Conducting an Evaluation of AoA's Program to Prevent Elder Abuse. ​The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services, has contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to design and conduct an evaluation of pilot interventions to prevent elder mistreatment through the Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Program, which is funded by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and mandated by the Elder Justice Act.  The purpose of the project is to study the development and implementation of state grantees' elder abuse interventions, analyze administrative data, and report findings on the characteristics of victims and perpetrators of elder abuse or those at-risk, use of prevention services, and performance measures. More

Evaluation of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. On behalf of NSF, NORC is conducting a study that will provide rigorous evidence of the impact of the GRFP on individuals’ educational decisions, career preparations, aspirations and progress, as well as professional productivity; and provide an understanding of how the program is implemented by universities and whether and how specific program policies could be adjusted to make the program more effective in meeting its goals.
 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 Former Prisoner Survey.

The National Former Prisoner Survey (FPS) is one of a series of major studies undertaken by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, in response to congressional mandates in the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. The National Former Prisoner Survey was conducted by NORC in 2008 and was designed to provide national estimates of sexual violence within prisons. 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 Washington Post: How untrusting Millenials may be according to GSS surveys and findings More
Posted: 3.25.2014 9:02AM
News Forbes: The AP-NORC Center's "Working Longer" project shares information on the risks of retirement More
Posted: 3.14.2014 9:56AM
News The Huffington Post: Demographics around homesexuals in the U.S. discussed with GSS data and research More
Posted: 3.14.2014 9:52AM
News The Huffington Post: The General Social Survey shows how people regard religion in the U.S. More
Posted: 3.12.2014 3:01PM
News The Associated Press, at ABCNews.com: NORC's Journalism Fellow Matt Sedensky looks at AP-NORC poll information and how Americans are working at older ages More
Posted: 10.14.2013 9:59AM