Veterans Health Information


The purpose of this site is to describe Veterans health research being conducted using the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The site will provide background information to the research, give information on relevant survey questions, give access to online statistics, provide links to associated NCHS reports, and provide tools for accessing and using the data .

To view tables of Veterans Health Statistics, click here or use left tab ‘Veterans Health Statistics’.

Updates and new information will be added as they become available.


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. This data is used to identify disparities by race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and other population characteristics.

The Office of Health Equity (OHE) 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 (HEAP).

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.

Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation

In the NHIS household composition and family core sections of the questionnaire, Veteran status is established along with other socio-demographic characteristics. Veterans were defined as adults (aged 18 and over) who had ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, military Reserves, or National Guard and are not currently on full-time active duty with the Armed Forces. Whether a respondent is characterized as a veteran is based on response to the questions, “[fill: Is anyone in the household/Are you/Is alias] now on full-time active duty with the Armed Forces?” and “Have you ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, military Reserves, or National Guard?”.

Additionally, the Sample Adult Core collects information on period of military service, oversees deployment, health conditions, functional limitations, health behaviors, and access to and use of health care services from one randomly selected adult per family. Estimates of these health outcomes by Veteran status and other characteristics are obtained from the Sample Adult Core.

Data and Survey Documentation

The data are available in the 2018 (and prior years) Person and Sample Adult public use files. All NHIS survey information for the years 2004 and onwards can be accessed from the portion of the NHIS website titled Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation. Links to questionnaires and other survey-related documents (such as survey description document) are found by scrolling down to the year of interest. For data and documentation (other than the questionnaires and the survey description), click on “Data Release” for the year of interest.