What to expect if you have been selected to participate in NHIS

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To help contain the spread of coronavirus, U.S. Census Bureauexternal iconexternal icon field representatives may conduct some NHIS interviews by telephone.

  • If you received a letter asking you to participate in NHIS, you may call to schedule a telephone interview.
  • If we don’t hear from you, a Census Bureau representative will attempt to contact you, and in some cases, this will be by telephone only.

What to expect if you have been selected to participate in NHIS

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the oldest ongoing national household health survey in the United States. The survey is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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NHIS participants are randomly selected through a scientific process that aims to obtain data from diverse households across the United States. If you are selected, you will first receive a letter [English pdf icon[PDF – 410 KB], Spanish pdf icon[PDF – 508 KB]] in the mail from the Director of NCHS that provides background information about the survey and informs residents that a U.S. Census Bureau interviewer will contact them soon.

If you choose to participate, a Census Bureau employee will conduct the interview in your home, or somewhere else if you prefer, during a time that is convenient for you. The interviewer can meet you during the day, after work, or on the weekend. The survey takes about 1 hour to complete but can vary slightly depending on the size and health of your family.

NHIS spans a broad range of health topics, like doctor visits, medical conditions, health insurance, and physical activity. Your responses are always confidential. In fact, NCHS is bound by law to protect your data according to rigorous privacy standards that have safeguarded every NHIS participant since the first survey in 1957.

Once you complete the survey, your confidential data will be combined with information from thousands of other survey participants.

The combined data are then analyzed and shared with health professionals and the public to raise awareness about progress and needs, and as a means for inspiring positive change.

In July 2021, NCHS launched the National Health Interview Survey-Teen or NHIS-Teen. If you have a teenager in your family between the ages of 12-17, we may ask for your permission to invite them to participate in this short online health survey. NHIS-Teen covers many of the same topic areas in the NHIS and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. NHIS-Teen can be completed on any Internet-enabled device and the information your teenager provides will be combined with thousands of other teen survey respondents to tell the story of the health of our nation’s teenagers.

More information on NHIS-Teen can be found below:
Brochure (English) pdf icon[PDF – 15 MB]
Brochure (Spanish) pdf icon[PDF – 14 MB]
Questionnaire pdf icon[PDF – 63 KB]
Invitation pdf icon[PDF – 659 KB]

Page last reviewed: March 10, 2022