The HRS Software System References

5. Conclusion

Longitudinal community health studies are crucial to understanding the determinants of survival and establishing feasible health interventions to control major causes of mortality and morbidity. The software needed for such studies is complex to develop, manage, and modify, however. As a consequence, studies are restricted to a few settings where major resources are available and international staff commitments can be made. Our research demonstrates that recent developments in object-oriented programming and automated program generation can be used to meet the requirements of a diverse array of longitudinal household studies with low-cost and simple-to-use technology that facilitates the development and modification of database system code. The capability of the HRS to structure the generation of robust and extensible household monitoring software fosters low-cost longitudinal surveys. Once developed, a core system can be readily linked with concomitant specialized longitudinal studies, such as cohort studies and panel surveys. Such capacities can expand the scope of health services research since research on most practical policy questions concerns the morbidity and mortality effects which cannot be assessed by cross-sectional surveys. The ease of maintaining and extending the HRS has fostered rapid dissemination and utilization of the HRS to several developing countries [Table 1]. HRS-based research is testing the efficacy of malaria vaccines, assessing HIV epidemiology, researching pneumococcal pneumonia epidemiology and prevention, examining cerebral spinal meningitis sequelae, testing family planning impact, and exploring options for health care reform.

The HRS FoxPro code is available on the Population Council website ( which also offers HRS user and technical manuals, answers to frequently asked questions, and a link to INDEPTH (, a technical exchange network of eighteen longitudinal health research groups from Africa and Asia, many of whose sites use HRS-based systems. The current version of the HRS is undergoing revision to improve HRS data manipulation tools, develop a system interface with commercial software packages, and upgrade system efficiency. These improvements seek to further our goal of facilitating longitudinal demographic research in developing country settings.


The HRS Software System References

The Household Registration System:
Computer Software for the Rapid Dissemination of Demographic Surveillance Systems

James F. Phillips, Bruce B. MacLeod, Brian Pence
© 2000 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ISSN 1435-9871