Tools for Research: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)

Information about the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) tool for research.

What is HCUP?

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) is a family of administrative, longitudinal databases, web-based products and software tools developed and maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as part of a Federal-State-industry partnership to build a standardized, multi-state health data system.

HCUP includes two databases: the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), which includes inpatient data from a national sample of about 900 hospitals, and the State Inpatient Databases (SID), which cover inpatient care in community hospitals in 22 States that represent more than half of all U.S. hospital discharges.

What are HCUP's objectives?

HCUP's objectives are to:

  • Obtain data from statewide information sources.
  • Design and develop a multi-State health care database for health services research and health policy analysis.
  • Make these data available to a broad set of public and private users.

How can HCUP data be used for child health services research?

The NIS can be used to examine children's health and hospital treatment nationwide. For example, data can be used to research:

  • Children's hospital utilization, access, charges, quality, and outcomes.
  • Hospital procedures performed on children.
  • The effectiveness of medical technology and treatments for children.

The SID generally provide complete data on hospitalization within a state, permitting child health researchers to investigate:

  • Data on children from two or more states to make comparisons.
  • State-specific trends in children's inpatient care utilization and outcomes.
  • Patterns of care for uncommon as well as common diseases.
  • The care of population sub-groups such as minority children.

Who can use HCUP data?

Researchers and policymakers can use HCUP data to identify, track, analyze and compare hospital statistics at the national, regional and state levels.

Examples of studies using HCUP data:

"Report Issued on the Health Care of America's Young". Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Jan 2000.

Friedman B., Jee J., Steiner C., et al. "Tracking the State Children's Health Insurance Program with Hospital Data: National Baselines, State Variations and Some Cautions." Medical Care Research and Review 56, no. 4 (1999): 440-55.

Meurer, J.R., et al. "Charges for Childhood Asthma by Hospital Characteristics." Pediatrics 102, no. 6 (1998): E70.

Which States participate in HCUP?

Arizona*, California*, Colorado*, Connecticut, Florida*, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa*, Kansas, Maryland*, Massachusetts*, Missouri, New Jersey*, New York*, Oregon*, Pennsylvania, South Carolina*, Tennessee, Utah, Washington*, and Wisconsin*.

*These States make SID files available through a central distributor. The central distributor can also provide information on how to contact the other 9 States to request SID files.

Where can I get additional resources?

The SID Central Distributor can provide application kits for purchasing the 13 centrally available SID and more detailed, descriptive information on the SID. Information on how to obtain uniformly formatted SID files from the other 9 States is also available from the SID Central Distributor.

HCUP SID Central Distributor.
5425 Hollister Avenue, Suite 140
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
Phone: (805) 681-5876
Fax: (805) 681-5888

Futher information on HCUP databases, software tools, and other products is available online or by E-mail at

Page last reviewed February 2000
Internet Citation: Tools for Research: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). February 2000. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.