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What is the National Health Interview Survey?

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is a continuous, nationwide in-person survey of approximately 35,000 households, or about 87,500 persons, in the civilian non-institutionalized population. The NHIS over samples African-American and Hispanic respondents. NCI periodically sponsors a Cancer Control Supplement (CCS) which is administered to a randomly selected sample of 39,000 adults.

The NHIS serves as the main source of data on health. It has historically been used for monitoring health patterns and trends, and tracking progress towards national goals. Data from NHIS also are widely used for research and policy analyses.

First administered in 1957, the NHIS consists of two parts:

  • a core set of basic health and demographic questions on a broad range of topics; and
  • one or more sets of supplemental questions on specific health topics, including cancer.

The NHIS is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is administered by the US Census Bureau.

Survey content in the NHIS is updated periodically. Information on the NHIS, including questionnaires, documentation, and datasets, is available on the National Center for Health Statistics NHIS Web site.

Last Modified: 21 Jul 2014