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Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Dataset Profile

Dataset: The National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name The National Survey of Children's Health
Dataset Acronym NSCH

The NSCH provides nationally representative information for children in ages from 0 -17 for all fifty states in the U.S., including District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Besides providing information on prevalence of chronic conditions and special healthcare needs, this survey provides information on access to medical homes, parental health, family interactions, as well as neighborhood factors impacting children's health. Trends can be compared across the waves of data collected.

Note that for 2016-2017 and beyond, the NSCH incorporates the content of the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN)

Key Terms Children, Child(ren) with Special Health Care Needs, State level
Study Design Cross-Sectional
Data Type(s) Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

ADD/ADHD, Allergies, Anxiety disorders, Arthritis, Autism spectrum disorders, Blood disorder, Body mass index (BMI)/obesity, Cardiovascular conditions, Cerebral palsy, Chronic pain, Congenital conditions, Depression, Diabetes, Down syndrome, Epilepsy or seizure disorder, Migraine or frequent headaches, Muscular dystrophy, Pulmonary disorders, Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Disability Measures

ACS 6 question disability series, Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Communication impairment, Developmental disabilities, Functional limitations (ADLs and/or IADLs), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Intellectual disability, Mental health disability, Self-care disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology, Visual disability

Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics Prevalence of Special Health Care Needs and Chronic Conditions among children in each of the fifty states, including District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Health insurance coverage, Healthcare access and utilization, Access to medical homes and usual source of care, Early, middle and late childhood screening for chronic conditions, Family functioning and socio-economic status including parental health and health behaviors, Neighborhood resources for healthy living
Sample Population Children ages 0-17
Sample Size/Notes 98,019 child-level interviews conducted during 2011-2012; with a minimum of 1,800 interviews conducted for EACH state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage National
Geographic Specificity State
Special Population(s)


Data Collection
Data Collection Mode Survey
Years Collected 2003, 2007, 2011-2012, 2016-2017
Data Collection Frequency Prior to 2016-2017: Every 4 years 2016-2017 and beyond: Annual
Strengths and Limitations
Strengths Large sample size - adequate to perform state level analysis. Wide variety of health and disability measures including activity and functional limitations and participation restrictions as well as medical conditions and impairments. Comparisons can be made between the 3 waves of surveys. Information available on neighborhood factors as well as parental and family functioning impacting children's health and well-being. Well documented measures and data.
Limitations A number of the survey’s questions were revised or reordered, and some of the indicators have been re-defined, so some of the indicators cannot be compared between survey waves. More information about survey revisions is available at: http://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH/resources/survey-revisions
Data Details
Primary Website http://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH
Data Access

Public Use dataset (original SAS version): https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/slaits/nsch.htm 

Data Use agreement (SPSS, SAS, and STATA with formats and labels): http://childhealthdata.org/help/dataset 

Data Access Requirements Public Use Dataset (original SAS version) Data Use agreement, No cost Data Use agreement, $ cost (fee may apply to certain for-profit organizations)
Summary Tables/Reports

Browse Data: http://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH/data 

Data Briefs and Reports: http://childhealthdata.org/action/databriefs 

Chart Books: http://childhealthdata.org/action/chartbooks 

Interactive Data Query: https://www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey

Data Components Interview file contains NSCH interview data for sample child and household (n = 95,677 for the U.S. and D.C.; n= 2,342 for the U.S. Virgin Islands)
Similar/Related Dataset(s)

National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN)

Selected Papers
Other Papers Blumberg SJ, Foster EB, Frasier AM, et al. Design and operation of the National Survey of Children’s Health, 2007. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 1(55). 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_01/sr01_055.pdf
Technical http://childhealthdata.org/action/publications
Related Repositories

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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