Veterans Health Information Background

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), is the principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States, and has been fielded continuously since 1957, making it the oldest continuous national health survey. It is also one of the major data collection programs of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Through personal, in-house interviews, the NHIS documents the health status and health care access and use of the U.S. population overall, and among selected subgroups. These data are used to identify disparities by race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and other population characteristics.

The Office of Health Equity (OHEexternal icon) in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) supports and coordinates efforts to develop an understanding of where health and health care inequities exist among veterans, identify factors that contribute to inequity in Veteran populations, and intervene to eliminate the inequities, as part of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Health Equity Action Plan (HEAPpdf iconexternal icon).

Given that the NHIS collects information on Veteran status each year, the NHIS data files provide a unique opportunity to conduct nationally generalizable research on the health of civilian noninstitutionalized Veterans, regardless of enrollment status in the VHA. To facilitate this research, the Division of Health Interview Statistics (DHIS) at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the VA Office of Health Equity (OHE) have collaborated to produce online tables with prevalence estimates for select health outcomes and behaviors using 2015 to 2018 NHIS data files.

The two-fold purpose of the collaboration is to examine and characterize population differences in the prevalence of health and health behaviors among

a) Veterans by various socio-demographic and other health related characteristics, and

b) Veterans compared with nonveterans by the same characteristics.