Worker Health Information from the National Health Interview Survey
About the Survey
Every year, for over 50 years, the National Health Interview Survey has been conducted. It is used to monitor the health of the nation, as it collects information by interviewing American households. The survey monitors trends on a variety of topics, including health status, health care access, and progress towards achieving national health objectives.
Assessing Worker Health Using the NHIS Core Survey Data
From 1997-2017, the annual NHIS core Sample Adult and Family Questionnaires included questions about employment status and several other factors related to the respondent’s current job, such as industry (type of business) and occupation (type of job). These data are used to study general trends in worker health.
NIOSH compiled NHIS core data on the prevalence of many general health outcomes among workers. You can assess the data using Worker Health Charts, our data visualization tool. Worker Health Charts allow you to assess how worker health varies by demographic or industry group. The health outcomes include:
- Chronic Conditions
- Musculoskeletal Health
- Health Behaviors
- Health Status and Physical Activity Limitations
- Healthcare Utilization/Access
- Working Conditions and Employment Benefits
Detailed Worker Health Information (Occupational Health Supplements)
NIOSH sponsored supplemental work-related questions in the 2010 and 2015 surveys. Known as the “occupational health supplements” (OHS), these questions collected more in-depth information on the prevalence of work-related health conditions and exposures to potential psychological and physical job hazards in the U.S. working population. The OHS questions were included as part of the Sample Adult questionnaires.
Data from the supplements can be combined with other data from the NHIS questionnaires to analyze relationships between occupational exposures and other common health conditions and interactions between work-related and non-work-related factors (e.g., tobacco use, physical activity).
Prior to 2010, the last NHIS-OHS was conducted in 1988. The 2010 NHIS-OHS included similar questions to the 1988 supplement about dermatitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and occupational asthma. Questions on other topics (e.g., psychosocial exposures) were adapted from other validated survey instruments, where possible.
The 2015 NHIS-OHS focused on carpal tunnel syndrome and low back pain in addition to potential psychological and physical occupational hazards and the availability and use of workplace health promotion programs. Many questions were repeated from the 2010 OHS, but some questions were modified, and others were new to the 2015 OHS.
Ethics Board Approval and Consent
NHIS is approved by the Research Ethics Review Board of the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. All NHIS respondents provided oral consent prior to participation.