National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

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National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

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


Survey Description

The main objective of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is to monitor the health of the United States population through collection and analysis of data on a broad range of health topics. NHIS data are widely used throughout the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to monitor trends in illness and disability and to track progress toward achieving national health objectives. NHIS data are also used by the public health research community for epidemiologic and policy analysis of such timely issues as characterizing those with various health problems, determining barriers to accessing and using appropriate health care, and evaluating federal health programs.

SGM-related questions can be found under the 'Sexual Identity and Lifestyle' questions section in the sample adult questionnaire.

Survey Sample Population

The sample population of the NHIS is noninstitutionalized U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Each year, the NHIS conducts a cross-sectional household interview survey of approximately 87,500 persons in 35,000 households. The total NHIS sample is subdivided into four separate panels, such that each panel represents the civilian, non-institutionalized population living in the United States. The NHIS excludes residents in long-term care facilities, active-duty Armed Forces personnel and U.S. nationals living abroad. Data collection is carried out continuously throughout the year, producing nationally representative samples each quarter and attenuating any potential seasonal biases.

The NHIS sample is drawn from each State and the District of Columbia. Although the NHIS sample is too small to provide data with acceptable precision for each State, selected estimates for most states may be obtained by combining data years. The current NHIS sample design does not oversample any race/ethnicity groups at the household level. One adult and one child (if applicable) per household are selected for the interview. For the adult selection stage, persons aged 65 or older who are black, Hispanic, or Asian have a higher chance to be selected. For the Family Core component, adult members of the household 17 years of age and over are invited to respond to the survey themselves. For the Sample Adult Questionnaire, one civilian adult per family is randomly selected. Information for the Sample Child questionnaire is obtained from the parent or guardian of the child.

Survey Mode

The NHIS occurs annually through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). Trained interviewers administer the questionnaire and enter responses directly into the laptop computer during the interview. The NHIS questionnaire has Core questions and Supplements. The Core questions remain largely unchanged from year to year and allow for trends analysis and for data from more than one year to be pooled to increase sample size for analytic purposes. The Core contains four major components: Household, Family, Sample Adult, and Sample Child. From each family in the NHIS, one sample adult and one sample child (if any children are present) are randomly selected and information on each is collected with the Sample Adult Core and the Sample Child Core questionnaires. Because some health issues are different for children and adults, these two questionnaires differ in some items but both collect basic information on health status, health care services, and health behaviors.

SGM-Related Survey Questions

Sexual Identity


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

[if R is female then Lesbian or] Gay Straight, that is not [If R is female then Lesbian or] Gay
Bisexual Something else
I don’t know the answer (Refused)
Question History: This is the only version of the question that has been used.

Sexual Attraction

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Sexual Behavior

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Gender Identity

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Household Relationships

What is the person’s relationship to [fill: ALIAS of Sample Adult]?

Relative who lives in household Relative who doesn’t live in household
Other caregiver Other
Refused Don’t know
Question History: This is the only version of the question that has been used.

Response Rates

The annual response rate for the NHIS is approximately 80 percent of the eligible households in the sample. Additional information on response rates can be found the Appendix II Calculation of “response rates” section located here:

Additional Background

The Supplements questionnaire of NHIS are used to respond to new public health data needs as they arise and are sometimes fielded only once. These questionnaires may be used to provide additional detail on a subject already covered in the Core or on a different topic not covered in other parts of the NHIS.

Survey Links


The questionnaires are located on the main website for NHIS under 'Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation' and are organized by year. Once the questionnaire is selected, you will be redirected to a directory. There are multiple options of ways to view the questionnaire and different aspects of the questionnaire. To view the SGM-related question, select the “qadult.pdf” option. The following link will take you to the most recent questionnaires page:

Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS): This provides links to all of the questionnaires included in the NHIS, organized by every year the NHIS has been in place. The IHIS is funded by the federal organization National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Use the following link to access the information:


The links to the general survey data can be found under ‘Questionnaires, Datasets, and Related Documentation’ by selecting ‘Data, Questionnaires, and Related Documentation’. Resources are arranged in a dropdown menu format organized by year. The most recent year’s (2015) data is available here:

General Information

General information on NHIS can be found under the ‘About NHIS’ section which include Purpose and Scope, Sample Design, Questionnaire Content, and Data Collection Procedures. Use the following link to access the information:


Parsons VL, Moriarity C, Jonas K, et al. Design and estimation for the National Health Interview Survey, 2006–2015. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 2(165). (2014).

Integrated Health Interview Series. User Notes. Minnesota Population Center. University of Minnesota.

Summary of Current Surveys and Data Collection Systems. National Center for Health Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015).

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Page Last Modified:
12/08/2017 10:34 AM