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

To help contain the spread of coronavirus, U.S. Census Bureauexternal 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.

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 – 410 KB], Spanish [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, the National Center for Health Statistics launched the National Health Interview Survey-Teen or NHIS-Teen, an online health survey for teenagers that was developed with the input of health and survey experts. 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 a range of health topics, many of which appear in the NHIS, including doctor visits, sleep, physical activity, injuries, mental health, social and emotional supports, and experiences with bullying and discrimination.  The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and your teenager would receive $5 as a token of appreciation.

NHIS-Teen can be completed on any Internet-enabled device, including smartphones, and the information your teenager provides will be combined with thousands of other teen survey respondents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to tell the story of the health of our nation’s teenagers.

Participation in NHIS-Teen is voluntary, and your teenager can skip any question and stop the survey at any time.

More information on NHIS-Teen, including the questionnaire, can be found below:
Brochure (English)[PDF – 15 MB]
Brochure (Spanish)[PDF – 14 MB]
Questionnaire [PDF – 6 MB]
Invitation[PDF – 659 KB]

For additional questions about NHIS-Teen, please e-mail us at nhis@cdc.gov