Boy receiving a vaccination The NORC Library NORC's work supplies insight for informed decisions. Open work areas encourage collaboration
Homeless man An impromptu meeting in the NORC lobby
An NORC workstation

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

Analyzing the Relationship Among Early Childhood Conditions, Reproduction of Socioeconomic Inequalities and Adult Health Disparities. This project analyzes the relationship between early health conditions, adult socioeconomic attainment, and adult health. The first goal of this study is to document the impact of early health conditions on adult socioeconomic and adult health outcomes. More

Financial Alignment Initiative Operation Support Contract. The purpose of this project is to assist the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with services to support the implementation of the Financial Alignment Initiative, a demonstration to test new approaches to providing integrated administrative, service delivery, and payment models for those individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. States may choose to participate in two different models under the demonstration: 1) capitated model, and 2) managed-fee-for service model (MFFS). Under the capitated model, CMS and the state enter into a three-way contract with selected health plans to provide integrated benefits to individuals dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid and health plans receive a capitation rate for the full continuum of benefits provided to enrollees. Under the MFFS model, states have the flexibility to develop innovative approaches to coordinate care for this population, building upon Medicaid health homes, primary care case management programs, or other models. States participating in the MFFS model are eligible for a retrospective performance payment based on federal savings and quality outcomes achieved by enrollees. Any intervention must ensure seamless integration and access to all necessary services through coordination across the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  More

National Congregations Study. The National Congregations Study – Wave III, sponsored primarily by the Lilly Endowment and carried out by NORC and Principal Investigator Mark Chaves at Duke University, aims to document the work, programs, and activities of America’s religious congregations.
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National Immunization Survey. The NIS, administered by NORC since 2005, monitors childhood immunization coverage for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This household survey screens more than 6 million sampled telephone lines yearly. The NIS Provider Survey requests permission to contact eligible children’s medical providers, and sends these providers an Immunization History Questionnaire. Household and provider data are combined to produce timely estimates of children’s vaccination coverage rate for national, state and local areas. A companion survey, the NIS-Teen, monitors vaccination coverage among teenagers aged 13-17 years. More

Traumatic Brain Injury Technical Assistance Center (TBI TAC). The Traumatic Brain Injury Technical Assistance Center (TBI TAC) supports the efforts of the Federal TBI Program in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). More

See all Special Populations projects

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