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National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

Individual level survey responses to a national survey of a representative sample of adults and children in the United States. The survey has been conducted annually since 1957 and data is available on the CDC site from 1963-present. The questions change over time, most notably the survey was redesigned in 2019, and the data available will vary from year to year. 

In 2022, NHIS surveyed 27,651 and 7,464, representing over 10,000 U.S. households.

Accessing NHIS Data

Working with IPUMS NHIS

Public use data from the National Health Interview Survey is available directly from the NHIS website, but the large size of the data sets and the complexity of the variables makes this interface more challenging for a novice user. 

IPUMS makes it easier to explore the NHIS data and identify which variables are available for which survey years. You can use the online analysis tool to generate 2x2 tables or build a custom data extract containing just the variables you're interested in for download. This makes the data sets a lot more manageable and saves you time coming through pdfs to identify exactly which variables you need for your research. 

IPUMS has also provides important context on how variables included in NHIS have changed overtime, and has recoded some variables to facilitate analysis over time. 

Note: the tutorial above uses an example from IPUMS USA (Census data), but the interface for browsing variable descriptions in IPUMS NHIS is very similar. 

IPUMS has a build in online data analysis tool, called SDA, which allows you to build custom tables using the variables of your choice.

Note: the tutorial below uses data from the American Community Survey in IPUMS as an example. You can find a tutorial using IPUMS NHIS data as one of the required modules in D2L for this course. 

IPUMS allows you to create a custom data extract from one or more years of NHIS survey data. Select just the variables that are relevant to your topic to build a more manageable data set. 

Lynn A. Blewett, Julia A. Rivera Drew, Miriam L. King, Kari C.W. Williams, Annie Chen, Stephanie Richards, and Michael Westberry. IPUMS Health Surveys: National Health Interview Survey, Version 7.3 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2023.

What's included in NHIS?

Health-related topics: 

  • Overall health status
  • Hypertension
  • Cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Asthma
  • Dental care
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hearing and vision issues
  • Chronic conditions 
  • Disability 
  • Mental health
  • COVID-19

Demographic data: 

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Geography (region of the US, urban or rural)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Veteran status
  • Education-level
  • Employment status

Social indicators of health: 

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Access to health care
  • Food security
  • Smoking, alcohol, and drug use
  • Sleep 
  • Physical activity
  • Social distancing for COVID-19 at work 

... and more!