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Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Dataset Profile

Dataset: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

Basic Information
Dataset full name: National Health Interview Survey
Dataset acronym NHIS
Summary The NHIS is a cross-sectional household interview survey. It is the primary data source on the health of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States. The survey, initiated in 1957, was designed "to produce statistics on disease, injury, impairment, disability, and related topics on a uniform basis for the Nation.” In general, the NHIS exists to monitor the health of the U.S. non-institutional population, and to display these characteristics by socio-economic and demographic characteristics. NHIS data are used within government agencies and the academic research community to monitor developments in the prevalence of illness, disability, and other health-related conditions. Survey content of the NHIS is updated about every 10-15 years. The last redesign was instated in 1997 and the next is slated for 2018. More about the 2018 questionnaire redesign can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/2018_quest_redesign.htm While not covered in this entry, in 1994 a separate NHIS Disability (NHIS-D) survey was conducted. Additional information is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_disability.htm
Key Terms Health, Disability, Health Care Access, Health Care Utilization
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health conditions/Disability measures
Health condition(s)
Disability Measures Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Communication impairment (child), Developmental disabilities, Functional limitations (ADLs & IADLs), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Intellectual disability, Mental health disability, Physical disability, Self-care disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology, Visual disability, Work limitation
Measures/outcomes of interest
Topics Health status including: Obesity and other health conditions, Health behavior (includes alcohol, tobacco, and substance use), Health care access and utilization, Access to health insurance, Employment
Sample
Sample Population Civilian households & non-institutionalized group quarters
Sample Size/Notes 103,789 persons completed the survey across 41,493 households in 2015 (most recent data available). Representative sample of civilian non-institutionalized population, with oversampling of African American, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in the sample adult selection stage (more recent change since 2006)
Unit of Observation Individual
Geographic Coverage National
Geographic specificity National-level estimates; some state-level estimates possible with pooling of data across several years (may not be very reliable)
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode In-person interviews administered to household representative (age equal to or greater than age of majority) by trained interviewers from U.S. Census Bureau. One random sample adult from household is interviewed to document adult health status and data are collected from one random household child from an adult household informant.
Years Collected 1957 - present; most relevant years 1997 - present due to consistency issues; 2018 introduces a redesign
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and limitations
Strengths Contains a broad set of disability-related questions and a large set of other variables (very detailed health information). Annual national estimates with oversampling of minority populations including African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. Currently fielding ACS-based disability questions. Can be used to examine relationship between environmental factors, individual factors and health/health care outcomes. Linkages to SSA benefits history, MEPS, and Medicare enrollment and claims data help in examining various relationships between health and community-engagement for individuals with disabilities. NDI mortality data and NIPRCS immunization records can also be merged to supplement or verify NHIS content.
Limitations Only national level statistics. Changes in sampling frame and recent 13% permanent reduction in sample size makes comparison across years problematic. Does not include population living in institutionalized group quarters. Sampling frame is refreshed every 10 years and certain minority groups may be underrepresented (e.g., American Indians).
Data details
Primary Website http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/about_nhis.htm
Data Access CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_2015_data_release.htm ICPSR: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/studies/36147 ICPSR includes additional value added information for researchers
Data Access Requirements Public Use Dataset
Summary Tables/reports NHIS Survey Reports: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_products.htm/
Selected papers
Technical Multiple technical reports on sample design and variance estimation procedures
Other Papers Harris, B., Hendershot, G., & Stapleton, D. (2005, October). A Guide to Disability Statistics from the National Health Interview Survey. http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/edicollect/186/

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