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War Stories from the Drug Survey
How Culture, Politics, and Statistics Shaped the National Survey on Drug Use and Health


  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107122703
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About the Authors
  • The primary data driver behind US drug policy is the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This insider history traces the evolution of the survey and how the survey has interacted with the political and social climate of the country, from its origins during the Vietnam War to its role in the war on drugs. The book includes first-hand accounts that explain how the data was used and misused by political leaders, why changes were made in the survey design, and what challenges researchers faced in communicating statistical principles to policymakers and leaders. It also makes recommendations for managing survey data collection and reporting in the context of political pressures and technological advances. Survey research students and practitioners will learn practical lessons about questionnaire design, mode effects, sampling, nonresponse, weighting, editing, imputation, statistical significance, and confidentiality. The book also includes common-language explanations of key terms and processes to help data users understand the point of view of survey statisticians.

    • Offers an insider perspective on the drug survey, with real-life examples of statistical challenges and approaches for solving them
    • Builds an understanding of the tradeoffs between statistical ideals and policy pragmatics
    • Provides clear, narrative explanations of statistical issues
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is a first of a kind 'tell all' about data. Not just any data, but the very data that courted the national public policy machine into decades of debate about how to solve the very problem it defined: America's addiction to drugs. When she would not cooperate with our wishes and say what we desperately wanted to hear - America is drug free - we tried to change her. As this book documents so well, silly us. The data are the data; what we do with it reflects our own vices. This book is a must read for anyone who wants a thorough understanding of the nexus between data systems and public policy.' John Carnevale, Carnevale Associates, LLC

    'Sound methodology is a sine qua non of quality measurements. It doesn't happen magically, as Joseph Gfroerer expertly shows us. Data scientists will benefit from the details of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health data generating process; however, the book will also be an invaluable source for policy makers too as it illustrates and informs though fascinating examples of the interplay between political decision making and survey statistics.' Frauke Kreuter, University of Maryland, University of Mannheim and Institute for Employment Research

    'Rare is it to find a comprehensive methodological and political history of an important social and epidemiological resource such as the NSDUH. Gfroerer's careful documentation of the evolution of this ongoing national survey make for a fascinating case study of real world applied research.' Timothy P. Johnson, University of Illinois, Chicago

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    19th Aug 2018 by 1sorin

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107122703
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. President Nixon launches the war on drugs
    2. The survey continues, as illicit drug use peaks
    3. Cocaine and new directions for the survey
    4. The White House needs data and a bigger survey
    5. Criticism, correction, and communication
    6. The survey moves to SAMHSA
    7. Rising drug use in the 1990s
    8. Better sample, better analysis, but not always
    9. A perfect redesign storm
    10. Continuing survey design improvements
    11. Analytic bankruptcy, reorganization, recovery, and resilience
    12. How to redesign an ongoing survey, or not
    13. Lessons learned and future challenges.

  • Resources for

    War Stories from the Drug Survey

    Joseph Gfroerer

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  • Author

    Joseph Gfroerer, US Department of Health and Human Services
    Joseph Gfroerer was responsible for analysis and supervision of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for more than three decades as a statistician at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). A widely recognized expert in methods for substance use surveys, he authored dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and hundreds of government reports on survey methodology and substance use epidemiology. A member of the American Statistical Association for over thrity-five years, he has received numerous awards from NIDA, SAMHSA, the White House, and the American Public Health Association for his work on the survey.

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