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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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General Help for CDC WONDER


What is CDC WONDER?

CDC WONDER: Information and Communication

Welcome to CDC WONDER -- Wide-ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research -- an easy-to-use, menu-driven system that makes the information resources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) available to public health professionals and the public at large. It provides access to a wide array of public health information.

CDC WONDER furthers CDC's mission of health promotion and disease prevention by speeding and simplifying access to public health information for state and local health departments, the Public Health Service, and the academic public health community. CDC WONDER is valuable in public health research, decision making, priority setting, program evaluation, and resource allocation.

CDC WONDER, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an integrated information and communication system for public health. Its purposes are:

  1. To promote information-driven decision making by placing timely, useful facts in the hands of public health practitioners and researchers, and
  2. To provide the general public with access to specific and detailed information from CDC.

With CDC WONDER you can:

  • Search for and read published documents on public health concerns, including reports, recommendations and guidelines, articles and statistical research data published by CDC, as well as reference materials and bibliographies on health-related topics;
  • Query numeric data sets on CDC's mainframe and other computers, via "fill-in-the blank" web pages. Public-use data sets about mortality (deaths), cancer incidence, HIV and AIDS, behavioral risk factors, diabetes, natality (births), census data and many other topics are available for query, and the requested data are readily summarized and analyzed.

The data is ready for use in desktop applications such as word processors, spreadsheet programs, or statistical and geographic analysis packages. File formats available include plain text (ASCII), web pages (HTML), and spreadsheet files (Comma or Tab Separated Values). All of these facilities are menu-driven, and require no special computer expertise.


How to Use CDC WONDER

System Overview

CDC WONDER presents you with an array of health related data sets. Each data set can be queried using a series of menus.

Document collections, such as CDC Prevention Guidelines, are presented in a topic list or table of contents. In some cases, a full text search option is available as well.

Statistical databases and document databases are presented in a series of "fill in the blanks" request forms. You fill in the forms to specify the criteria for your data request, and then send the request to be processed. The results of your query are usually returned within seconds. If the system is delayed processing your request, however, some queries allow you to retrieve your results later, or you can have them e-mailed to you.

When you receive your results in CDC WONDER, you can view them online and then, if you desire, save them on your personal computer so that you can load them into another program. For example, if you retrieve a text document you may wish to load it into a word processor. If you request numeric data, you may wish to load the data into a spreadsheet or statistical analysis program. You can do so by having the file reformatted and sent to you.

Please refer to Data Sets and Documentation for more information.

System Requirements

The CDC WONDER home page is located on the world wide web at http://wonder.cdc.gov/. Specific pages and forms within WONDER are linked to from many other sites on the web.

Most of CDC WONDER will work with most web browsers. To fully use CDC WONDER, however, you need a browser that supports JavaScript (e.g. Netscape 3.0 or better, Internet Explorer 3.02 or better).

Some CDC WONDER data sets allow you to access previous queries or results from the Utilities page. These queries and results will be available as long as your browser remains open. To enable this feature, your browser must be configured to accept cookies.

What Are Cookies?

CDC WONDER keeps track of your session by installing a "cookie" in your browser. A cookie is a small piece of information that a web server adds to your browser's memory. The cookie installed by CDC WONDER is completely harmless and is incapable of compromising your system or your personal privacy in any way. It contains only a randomly generated number which represents your session. The cookie disappears when you shut down your browser.

You may, if you like, configure your browser to accept cookies only after warning you and letting you manually decide to accept them; this lets you accept or reject cookies based on your degree of trust in the web site you are visiting.


Data Sets and Documentation

CDC WONDER is a powerful tool for retrieving and analyzing public health data. Before using any data set, we urge you to review the detailed data set documentation to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the nature and limitations of the data sets. If you have any questions regarding a CDC WONDER data set, please contact CDC WONDER Customer Support.

One-paragraph summaries of the content of all CDC WONDER data sets are available here and from the CDC WONDER home page.

Comprehensive documentation for a given data set is available in the on-line help under each data set's request screen.

Querying Data Sets

CDC WONDER presents you with an array of health related data sets. Each data set is queried using a series of menus. The array of data sets available through CDC WONDER changes over time as CDC works to make new data sources available and as problems are encountered and resolved.

Document collections, such as CDC Prevention Guidelines, are presented in a topic list or table of contents. In some cases, a full text search option is available as well. These documents are pre-formatted and organized on the WONDER web site so that you can access them instantly.

Statistical databases and document databases are presented in a series of "fill in the blanks" request forms. You fill in the forms to specify the criteria for your data request, and then send the request to be processed. Behind the scenes, your request is forwarded the appropriate database server on the CDC network.

Each data request form provides an entry allowing you to label or describe the query. This description appears on the results page that is returned, and is also used to identify the query and result on the previous query and result pages available from the Utilities page.

Previous Queries and Results

Some data sets automatically save queries and results as you use WONDER. You can access these previous queries or results on the Utilities page, which is available in the links on the top and bottom of most pages.

These data sets also give you the ability to stop waiting for results to come back. Most WONDER queries return relatively quickly. If a query for one of these data sets takes longer than 30 seconds to process, a screen appears giving you the option of continuting to wait, having the results emailed to you, or getting the results later from Utilities page.

Previous queries and results are only available if you have cookies enabled in your browser. The cookie allows WONDER to create a session with the browser that allows your queries and results to be identified as yours. As long as your browser is open, the session is maintained and your queries and results can be identified and made available to you. Once your browser is closed, the previous queries and results will no longer be available.

Exporting Data

When you receive your results in CDC WONDER, you can view them online and then, if you desire, save them on your personal computer so that you can load them into another program.

If you retrieved a text document, for example, you may wish to load it into a word processor. You can do so by using the "File" and "Save As" buttons on your browser to save it as an ASCII text or html file, and then loading the file into your word processor.

If you requested numeric data, you may wish to load the data into a spreadsheet or statistical analysis program. You can do so by having the file reformatted and sent to you. Scroll to the bottom of your data; there you will find file reformatting and delivery options. Select a format your spreadsheet or analysis program can read, verify or type in your e-mail address, and then have the reformatted file delivered to you via e-mail.

Contacting CDC WONDER User Support

For support and technical assistance with CDC WONDER, or to share your ideas and opinions, click here to contact our customer support team. Links to contact us appear at the top and bottom of most WONDER pages. When reporting a problem, be as specific as possible, and try to describe the steps you took prior to encountering the error. Also, note any error messages you received from CDC WONDER or from your Web browser. It may be necessary for the support representative to attempt to recreate the error so be as detailed as possible.


Acknowledgments

The computer programs that make up CDC WONDER were created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Epidemiology Program Office, Division of Public Health Surveillance and Informatics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All data are provided by CDC offices or other agencies.

Collaborators

We are very grateful to our "founding fathers," Andrew Friede, MD, MPH, Patrick O'Carroll, MD, MPH, Howard W. Ory, MD, MSc, and Joseph Reid, PhD for providing the system's original guiding vision and for their continuing mentorship. Special thanks to Jerry G. Gentry and William A. Norman for collaborating on mainframe database and communications systems, and Mike Cox and Kenneth McNeely for collaborating on Wide Area Network communications systems.

We are indebted to our colleagues in every part of CDC who made data available to us, and who collaborated in screen and report designs for their data sets. Grateful acknowledgment is given for the contribution of our earliest users, largely Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers, who have made hundreds of thoughtful suggestions that have been incorporated into the system. Dan Peterson and Richard Sun contributed greatly to our early development. We would especially like to thank our colleagues at the INPHO project: David A. Ross and Edward Baker Jr. for their collegiality.

Current Team Members
Alex Charleston Greg Digsby Connie Dorner
Sigrid Economou Bob Flesch Brett Headley
Harry Holden Scott Janes Carol Knowles
Lee Maddox Myra Montalbano Ron Peterson
Bill Parks Veer Pawate Mark Puckett

Past Contributors and Team Members
(gone but not forgotten...)
Jo Altman Vincent T. Alvarez Rick Anderson
Marrietta Barral George Blanchard Barbara Boyett
Patricia Brindley Fernando Brown Anne Cauley
Robb Chapman Linda Cleveland John Cottrell
Tim Coutu Jennifer Davis Anna DeStefano
Shannon Dewitt Boris Donald Earnestine Dooley
John Dyer Steve Einbender Robert Evans
Howard Frazier Angela Freeman Ricky Freyre
Raymond Frigola Jodi Glacer Juedienne Gordon
Ray Green Fred Guthrie Miranda Hall
Jimmy Hammond Ryan Haygood Heitzso
Jeffrey R. Hermann Natalie Huet, MPH Dee Hughes
Nancy Hughes Gidado Immanuel-Yisa Angela Jarrad
Tracie M. Jones Troy Jordan Craig Kassinger
Susan Kerht Joan Kennedy Bryan Korff
Lew Levy Cheri Gatland-Lightner Kenneth S. Lightner
Tracy Lin Kenneth Long Matt Lupo
John Macke Michael Micco Mike Molinari
Fran Moore Lee Nadelman Evelyn Olagundoye
Lesley Peters Sujitra Priest Michele Renshaw
Barry Rhodes Daniel Rosen Jerry T. Sanders
Lois Starr Robert Thralls Bryant Upton
Ed Weber Susan M. Wilkin Dianne Wylie





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This page last reviewed: Friday, July 11, 2003

Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Epidemiology Program Office
Division of Public Health Surveillance and Informatics