2018 Redesign Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About the Redesign

1) Why is the NHIS questionnaire being redesigned now?

The NHIS questionnaire was last redesigned in 1997.

Data from the NHIS are used to monitor the nation’s health. Periodically the content of the NHIS is redesigned to ensure that the topics measured reflect the needs of the Department of Health and Human Services and the public health community. Due to dramatically declining response rates accompanied by sharply escalating costs, another important aim of the redesign is to reduce the respondent burden by shortening the length of the questionnaire.

2) What is the desired length of the redesigned NHIS questionnaire?

The redesigned NHIS questionnaire should take no more than 60 minutes (family information, sample adult, sample child) for most households.

3) When will the redesigned NHIS questionnaire be implemented?

The redesigned NHIS questionnaire is expected to first be in the field in January 2018.

Types of Questions on the NHIS

4) What is the “core”?

The core is a set of NCHS sponsored and funded questions. There are two types of core questions, annual and rotating. Annual core questions are on each year of the NHIS. Rotating core questions appear on a fixed schedule, but not every year. The adult content draft pdf icon[PDF – 210 KB] and child content draft pdf icon[PDF – 181 KB] identify whether the proposed core content areas are annual or rotating.

5) What are “supplements”?

Supplements are questions that are sponsored and funded by federal or health-related non-profit agencies. Supplemental questions can be on one or more years of the NHIS. Depending on what the sponsor needs, these questions may go on the NHIS annually, with fixed frequency (i.e. once every other year or once every 5 years), or for one or two years only. Click here for past sponsors and supplement questions pdf icon[PDF – 408 KB].

6) How can my agency support questions on a supplemental section?

If you are a federal agency or health-related non-profit organization and are interested in funding a supplement, please contact Marcie Cynamon at healthsurveys@cdc.gov to discuss your proposed questions.

Proposed Changes

7) How will the redesigned NHIS questionnaire differ from the 1997-2017 NHIS questionnaire?

The redesigned NHIS questionnaire will be shorter than the 1997-2017 NHIS. There will be fewer detailed follow-up questions. Additionally, some questions will only be asked in some years (“rotating core”), rather than annually. One sample adult and one sample child will be selected and most of the questions will be directed at them; very few questions will be asked about other family members.

8) What will happen to content on the 1997-2017 NHIS family questionnaire with the redesign?

Critical family-level content will be asked about the whole family within the redesigned sample adult or sample child questionnaire. This includes family income, family poverty level, housing subsidies, income transfer program participation, and financial burden of medical care.

Other health-related topics found in the 1997-2017 NHIS family questionnaire will be collected about the sample adult and sample child only. These topics include, but are not limited to, general health status, activity limitations, medical care that has been delayed or not received, and health insurance.

A page on the impact of the move of this family-level content provides more detail.

9) How will the redesign of the NHIS questionnaire change the sample size?

The sample sizes for sample adults, sample children or total households are not expected to change. DHIS estimates there will be about 35,000 sample adults and about 12,000 sample children in the sample annually. For the questions that are currently asked about sample adults or sample children only, there will be no difference in sample size. However, most of the questions that are currently asked about all members of the family will now only be asked about the sample adult and sample child. For analysts using only these data, the sample size will be reduced.

10) How will the redesign of the NHIS questionnaire change my ability to get state-level estimates?

Because of confidentiality concerns, access to state identifiers to create state-level estimates must occur through the NCHS Research Data Center (RDC). Interested parties are encouraged to contact the RDC directly.

Consultation and Comments

11) Who has been consulted during the redesign process?

Experts from multiple disciplines and professional backgrounds have been consulted throughout the redesign process. Multiple technical expert panels (TEPs) were formed consisting of members from academic institutions, private industry, and the government who are experts in statistics, public health, medicine, and demography. TEPs focused on child health, income, pain, and injury.

12) How have you used public comment in the redesign?

Previous comments received have been instrumental in determining the survey content. Three calls for public comment have been placed, and a new public comment began October 7, 2016 through the Federal Register. The Director of the Division of Health Interview Statistics continues to welcome comments and suggestions on the proposed design and content.

13) How can I submit comments?

You may submit comments, identified by Docket ID: CDC-2016-0092, using the Federal eRulemaking Portalexternal icon. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. For further information, please send an e-mail to the Division of Health Interview Statistics Redesign Team.

Page last reviewed: October 7, 2016