Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, NIAAA, NIH

Disseminating information and analyzing reports.

The Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS) is a mechanism through which the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), disseminates the latest findings about the effects of alcohol on human health, to other researchers, health professionals, and the public. Major tasks:

Data management. The Cygnus staff maintained and enhanced NIAAA's collection of machine-readable research datasets, occupying more than 1,500 reels of computer tape located at the Parklawn Computer Center. The staff also published a data catalog that provides descriptions of the contents of datasets;

Technical assistance and reference services. We provided support to NIAAA staff and other researchers, and compiled and maintained a list of alcohol epidemiologic research specialists to assist AEDS staff when necessary. Cygnus also provided technical assistance to NIAAA’s Prevention Research Branch, providing information and guidance to researchers and evaluators;

Data analysis and technical publications development. Data analysis encompassed a wide variety of areas, including analyzing existing public use datasets, integrating research findings into summary review documents, developing data collection instruments, and machine editing and cleaning of datasets. Many of these data analysis activities were published in peer-reviewed journals and other publications, including CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, as well as reports published by NIAAA;

Our team also prepared annual surveillance reports on topics such as alcohol-related traffic crash fatalities and per capita alcohol consumption, and other specialized AEDS reports which included extensive and detailed data reference manuals on alcohol consumption, cirrhosis mortality, and alcohol-related morbidity. Our staff wrote the Epidemiologic Bulletin, a research feature presented in each edition of NIAAA’s quarterly journal Alcohol Health & Research World. Topics included the prevalence of DSM-III-R alcohol dependence/abuse among specific occupations, and alcohol use and physically risky behavior among adolescents;

Inquiry response and referral. An important responsibility of Cygnus was to assist AEDS in responding to inquiries from television, radio, and newspaper reporters, and members of the public seeking information about alcohol use and abuse;

Electronic information dissemination. Our staff operated an electronic bulletin board system called Quick Facts, available through the Internet on FedWorld. This system was one of the first such systems supported by a government agency and it provided free access to many files that presented data on the scope and consequences of alcohol use and abuse; and

Scientific and administrative support. Users throughout the world could call Quick Facts and obtain alcohol data for whatever uses they might have. Cygnus provided scientific and administrative support for Quick Facts to create and maintain data tables extracted from many of the reports described under the above discussion of data analysis.

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