Skip to Main Content
Main Content

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)


Health Care Professionals & Researchers
Data Tools
Sexual and Gender Minority Clearinghouse
Quality Improvement & Interventions
Training
Consumers & Community Partners
From Coverage to Care Resources
Prevention

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Years Survey Included
Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM)-related Questions

2001-Present

Older woman exercising with light weights.

Survey Description

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is one of a series of health-related programs conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NHANES is designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews, physical examinations, and administers tests of physical activity and fitness that include children and adolescents.

Survey Sample Population

The NHANES sample population is the noninstitutionalized U.S. civilian population of all ages residing in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The survey examines a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 persons each year. These persons are in counties across the country, 15 of which are visited in-person each year. To produce reliable statistics, NHANES over-samples persons 60 and older, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

Survey Mode

NHANES survey mode consists of two parts. The first part is conducted using a computer assisted personal interviewing system (CAPI) and is administered by a mobile exam center (MEC) interviewer. The second part of the interview is administered using an audio computer-assisted self-interviewing system (ACASI). Sample participants are given a set of headphones and asked sensitive questions to which they can respond by using the touch screen. The survey consists of questionnaires administered in the home followed by a standardized physical examination in specially equipped MECs. SGM-related questions are in the ACASI sections of the MEC interview.

SGM-Related Survey Questions

Sexual Identity

SXQ.295

Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?

Lesbian or Gay ........1 Straight, that is, not lesbian or gay ........2
Bisexual ........3 Something else ........4
I don’t know the answer ........9 REFUSED ........77
DON’T KNOW ........99
Question History: Female participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2015-present.

SXQ.296

Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?

Gay ........1 Straight, that is, not gay ........2
Bisexual ........3 Something else ........4
I don’t know the answer ........9 REFUSED ........77
DON’T KNOW ........99
Question History: Male participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2015-present.

SXQ.292

Do you think of yourself as . . .

Heterosexual or straight (attracted to women) ...1 Homosexual or gay (attracted to men) ...2
Bisexual (attracted to men and women) ...3 Something else ...4
Not sure? ...5 REFUSED ...7
DON'T KNOW ...9
Question History: Male participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2005-2014.

SXQ.294

Do you think of yourself as . . .

Heterosexual or straight (attracted to men) ...1 Homosexual or lesbian (attracted to women) ...2
Bisexual (attracted to men and women) ...3 Something else ...4
Not sure? ...5 REFUSED ...7
DON’T KNOW ...9
Question History: Female participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2005-2014.

SXQ.292

Do you think of yourself as . . .

Heterosexual or straight (attracted to women) ...1 Homosexual or gay (attracted to men) ...2
Bisexual (attracted to men and women) ...3 Something else, or ...4
Not sure? ...5 REFUSED ...7
DON'T KNOW ...9
Question History: Male participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2001-2004.

SXQ.294

Do you think of yourself as . . .

Heterosexual or straight (attracted to men) ...1 Homosexual or lesbian (attracted to women) ...2
Bisexual (attracted to men and women) ...3 Something else ...4
Not sure? ...5 REFUSED ...7
DON’T KNOW ...9
Question History: Female participants were asked this version of this question. This question was asked from 2001-2004.

Sexual Attraction

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Sexual Behavior

NHANES includes sexual behavior questions including age at first sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, and history of sexually transmitted disease.

Gender Identity

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Household Relationships

(SFQ.006)

What is {PERSON’S} relationship to {REFERENCE PERSON}?

RELATED - Husband, Partner, Son (Biological, Son-In-Law, Adoptive, Foster, Step), Son of Partner, Grandson, Father, Brother, Grandfather, Uncle, Nephew, Other Relative
NOT RELATED - Housemate/Roommate, Roomer/Boarder, Other/Non-Related, Legal Guardian, Ward, Refused, Don't Know

(SFQ.007)

What is {PERSON’S} relationship to {REFERENCE PERSON}?

RELATED - Wife, Partner, Daughter (Biological, Daughter-In-Law, Adoptive, Foster, Step), Daughter of Partner, Granddaughter, Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, Niece, Other Relative
NOT RELATED - Housemate/Roommate, Roomer/Boarder, Other/Non-Related, Legal Guardian, Ward, Refused, Don't Know

(SFQ.180)

Is {PERSON’S NAME} now married, widowed, divorced, separated, never married, or living with partner? 

Married
Widowed
Divorced
Separated
Never Married
Living with Partner
Refused
Don’t know

(SFQ.190)

Is {PERSON’S}{spouse/partner} living in the household?

Yes
No
Refused
Don’t know
Question History: These are the only questions that have been used.

Response Rates

Response rates for NHANES can be accessed through the main website for NHANES by selecting ‘Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation’. Response rates are organized by year and unweighted for all ages are provided in both excel and pdf formats. Use the following ling to access the most recent response rate results:
https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/ResponseRates.aspx

Additional Background

Starting in 1999, NHANES became a continuous, ongoing annual survey of the noninstitutionalized civilian resident population of the United States. NHANES excluded all persons in supervised care or custody in institutional settings, all active-duty military personnel and active-duty family members living overseas, and any other U.S. citizens residing outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A continuous survey allowed content to change to meet emerging needs. The goals of the continuous NHANES are:

  • To provide prevalence data on selected diseases and risk factors for the U.S. population.
  • To monitor trends in selected diseases, behaviors, and environmental exposures.
  • To explore emerging public health needs.
  • To maintain a national probability sample of baseline information on health and nutritional status.

Survey Links

Questionnaires

The survey questionnaires can be accessed on the main website for the NHANES, organized by year. Use the following link to access the most recent questionnaires:
https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/Default.aspx

Data

Data can be accessed on the main page for the NHANES by selecting ‘Other NHANES Data’. Use the following link to access the most recent data:
https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/OtherNhanesData.aspx

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/

Introduction to NHANES: National Center for Health Statistics. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013 – 2014 Overview.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Plan and Operations, 1999-2010
https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/analyticguidelines.aspx

Report of the NHANES Review Panel to the NCHS Board of Scientific Counselors. Executive Summary. April 1, 2009
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/bsc/executive_summary_nhanes_review_2009.pdf

Related Content