Major Changes

Major changes in data collection technology

  • From 1963 through 1996, the NHIS questionnaire was printed as a paper booklet. The interviewer read the questions and wrote the answers in the booklet. Results were subsequently keyed into a computer in preparation for data processing.
  • From 1997 through 2003, the NHIS used CASES software for computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). The interviewer read the questions and entered the responses directly into a laptop computer.
  • In 2004 the NHIS questionnaire converted from CASES to BLAISE CAPI software. This technology continues to the present.

Major changes to the alcohol questions

  • Questions about adult alcohol use were included as special topic supplements in selected years from 1977 through 1994. The extent and content of these questions and the reference periods varied markedly from questionnaire to questionnaire. See List of Topics for specifics. In 1997, a series of questions about lifetime and current drinking status were added to the NHIS Sample Adult core questionnaire and asked annually for the duration of the 1997-2018 questionnaire design. Recodes summarizing adult drinking status have been on the data files since 2001. SAS code for creating recodes for years 1997-2000 are available on the Recodes section of this website.
  • The 2019 redesigned NHIS annual core questionnaire will not ask alcohol questions. Alcohol questions will be asked every other year beginning in 2020. Decisions about the set of alcohol questions to be included have been based on input from data users and background research that examined the effect of various recall periods. Refer to Background for the 2019 NHIS Questionnaire Redesign Alcohol Questions [PDF – 799 KB]. The rotating core questions are anticipated to be very similar to the 1997-2018 NHIS Design [PDF – 270 KB].