Surveys and Data Collection Systems
Some NCHS data systems and surveys are ongoing annual systems while others are conducted periodically. There are four major data collection programs at NCHS:
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is NCHS' most in-depth and logistically complex survey, operating out of mobile examination centers that travel to randomly selected sites throughout the country to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans. This survey combines personal interviews with standardized physical examinations, diagnostic procedures, and laboratory tests to obtain information about diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions; growth and development, including overweight and obesity; diet and nutrition; risk factors; and environmental exposures.
The National Health Care Surveys provide information about the organizations and providers that supply health care, the services they render, and the patients they serve. Provider sites surveyed include physician offices, community health centers, ambulatory surgery centers, hospital outpatient and emergency departments, inpatient hospital units, residential care facilities, nursing homes, home health care agencies, and hospice organizations. The National Health Care Surveys are used to study resource use, including staffing; quality of care, including patient safety; clinical management of specific conditions; disparities in the use and quality of care; and diffusion of health care technologies, including drugs, surgical procedures, and information technologies.
The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) provides information on the health status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population through confidential interviews conducted in households by Census Bureau interviewers. NHIS is the Nation's largest in-person household health survey, providing data on health status, access to and use of health services, health insurance coverage, immunizations, risk factors, and health-related behaviors.
The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) provides the Nation's official vital statistics data based on the collection and registration of birth and death events at the state and local levels. NCHS works in partnership with the vital registration systems in each jurisdiction to produce critical information on such topics as teenage births and birth rates, prenatal care and birth weight, risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, infant mortality rates, leading causes of death, and life expectancy.
In addition to its major data collection programs, NCHS fulfills its mission by conducting targeted surveys and augmenting survey data where possible.
Our National Survey of Family Growth obtains information on factors affecting birth and pregnancy rates, adoptions, and maternal and infant health, and supplements the information obtained on birth certificates collected through the National Vital Statistics System.
Our State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) allows us to produce state-level data on such topics as the health of children with special needs, to meet the data needs of our colleagues in HHS' Maternal and Child Health Bureau and elsewhere.
The National Immunization Survey is conducted in collaboration with our CDC Atlanta colleagues and monitors childhood immunization coverage. NCHS also periodically conducts longitudinal components to our major ongoing surveys, such as the Longitudinal Studies of Aging, which were conducted in conjunction with the National Health Interview Survey. In our Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory, we develop and test data collection instruments for use in NCHS data collections and for surveys conducted by other federal agencies and research organizations. These and other activities are discussed in depth on our website.