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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services aspe.hhs.gov Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Guide to HHS Surveys and Data Resources

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Guide to HHS Surveys and Data Resources is a compilation of information about all major data collection systems sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  These surveys and data collection systems allow us to monitor and track the health of the population and the functioning of the health care system.  The Guide is intended for policymakers, administrators, researchers, and the public as a reference document on data and statistical resources within HHS.  The surveys and data systems outlined below collect a wide range of health and health care information.  This includes health status and behaviors; health care access; resources, utilization and expenditures; insurance coverage and financing; functional status as well as social determinants of health and quality of care.

Each page below includes a description of the survey, the HHS Agency that is responsible for the survey, the years the data are available for, the periodicity of the data, the content of the data, the population the data covers, the methodology of the survey, the response rate and sample size, and a link to the survey instrument.

Major HHS Surveys and Data Systems

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Survey or Data System Study Abbreviation Agency/Organization Description
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey MEPS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) is a set of large-scale surveys of families and individuals, their medical providers, and employers across the United States.  MEPS is the most complete source of data on the cost and use of health care and health insurance coverage. MEPS data cover health care use and spending, insurance coverage, and accessibility of care.
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project HCUP Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)is a family of health care databases and related software tools and products developed through a Federal-State-Industry partnership and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  HCUP databases bring together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal government to create a national information resource of patient-level health care data.  HCUP includes the largest collection of longitudinal hospital care data in the United States, with all-payer, encounter-level information beginning in 1988.  These databases enable research on a broad range of health policy issues, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care programs, and outcomes of treatments at the national, State, and local market levels.
National Health Interview Survey NHIS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has monitored the health of the nation since 1957.  NHIS data on a broad range of health topics are collected through personal household interviews.  For over 50 years, the U.S. Census Bureau has been the data collection agent for the National Health Interview Survey.  Survey results have been instrumental in providing data to track health status, health care access, and progress toward achieving national health objectives.
National Health and nutrition Examination Survey NHANES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies 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 and physical examinations.
National Survey of Family Growth NSFG Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) gathers information on family life, marriage and divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of contraception, and men’s and women’s health.  The survey results are used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and others to plan health services and health education programs, and to do statistical studies of families, fertility, and health.
National Vital Statistics System NVSS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) is the oldest and most successful example of inter-governmental data sharing in Public Health and the shared relationships, standards, and procedures form the mechanism by which NCHS collects and disseminates the Nation’s official vital statistics.  These data are provided through contracts between NCHS and vital registration systems operated in the various jurisdictions legally responsible for the registration of vital events — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths.
National Immunization Survey NIS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Immunization Survey (NIS) is a survey to children’s immunization providers to monitor childhood immunization coverage.
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System BRFSS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly since 1984.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System YRBSS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults.
State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey SLAITS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) collects important health care data at State and local levels.  It supplements current national data collection strategies by providing in-depth State and local area data to meet various program and policy needs in an ever-changing health care system.  SLAITS currently supports various surveys, including the National Survey of Children’s Health and National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
National Survey of Children’s Health SLAITS-NSCH Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Survey of Children’s Health (SLAITS-NSCH), sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, examines the physical and emotional health of children ages 0-17 years of age.  Special emphasis is placed on factors that may relate to well-being of children, including medical homes, family interactions, parental health, school and after-school experiences, and safe neighborhoods.
National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey NHCS-NAMCS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) is a national survey designed to meet the need for objective, reliable information about the provision and use of ambulatory medical care services in the United States.  Findings are based on a sample of visits to non-federal employed office-based physicians who are primarily engaged in direct patient care.
National Home and Hospice Care Survey NHCS-NHHCS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Home and Hospice Care Survey (NHHCS) is one in a continuing series of nationally representative sample surveys of U.S. home health and hospice agencies.  It is designed to provide descriptive information on home health and hospice agencies, their staffs, their services, and their patients.
National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey NHCS-NHAMCS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) is designed to collect data on the utilization and provision of ambulatory care services in hospital emergency and outpatient departments. Findings are based on a national sample of visits to the emergency departments and outpatient departments of noninstitutional general and short-stay hospitals.
National Hospital Care Survey NHCS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) is a new survey that integrates inpatient data formerly collected by the NHDS with the emergency department (ED), outpatient department (OPD), and ambulatory surgery center (ASC) data collected by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS).  The integration of these two surveys along with the collection of personal identifiers (protected health information) will allow the linking of care provided to the same patient in the ED, OPD, ASC, and inpatient departments.  It will also be possible to link the survey data to the National Death Index and Medicaid and Medicare data to obtain a more complete picture of patient care.
National Hospital Discharge Survey NHCS-NHDS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), which was conducted annually from 1965-2010, was a national probability survey designed to meet the need for information on characteristics of inpatients discharged from non-Federal short-stay hospitals in the United States.  Data from the NHDS are available annually and are used to examine important topics of interest in public health and for a variety of activities by governmental, scientific, academic, and commercial institutions.
National Nursing Home Survey NHCS-NNHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Nursing Home Survey (NNHS) is a continuing series of national sample surveys of nursing homes, their residents, and their staff.  Although each of these surveys emphasized different topics, they all provided some common basic information about nursing homes, their residents, and their staff.  All nursing homes included in this survey had at least three beds and were either certified (by Medicare or Medicaid) or had a state license to operate as a nursing home.
National Survey of Residential Care Facilities NHCS-NSRCF Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The National Survey of Residential Care Facilities (NSRCF) is a survey of residential care providers.  Included are residential care facilities; assisted living residences; board and care homes; congregate care; enriched housing programs; homes for the aged; personal care homes; and shared housing establishments that are licensed, registered, listed, certified, or otherwise regulated by a state.
Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey MCBS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) data contain survey responses and CMS administrative data for individuals participating in the MCBS.  MCBS is a multipurpose survey of a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries.  It is a comprehensive source of information on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, health status and functioning, health care use and expenditures, and health insurance coverage of the entire Medicare population including the aged, disabled, and institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries.
Home Health Outcome and Assessment Information Set OASIS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) The Home Health Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) contains data items that were developed for measuring patient outcomes for the purpose of performance improvement in home health care.  OASIS data items address socio-demographic, environmental, support system, health status, functional status, and health service utilization characteristics of the patient.
CMS Administrative Datasets — Research Data Assistance Center RESDAC Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) CMS Administrative data is accessible through the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC).  Datasets include Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiary Data, and Medicare Part D Data.  A complete list of data sets is available at:
http://www.resdac.org/Tools/TBs/TN_015_CMS%20Data%20Availability_508.pdf
Area Resource File ARF Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) The Area Resource File (ARF) contains information on health facilities, health professions, measures of resource scarcity, health status, economic activity, health training programs, and socioeconomic and environmental characteristics.  In addition, the basic file contains geographic codes and descriptors which enable it to be linked to many other files and to aggregate counties into various geographic groupings.
Health and Retirement Study HRS National Institutes of Health (NIH) The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of more than 26,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years.  The HRS explores the changes in labor force participation and the health transitions that individuals undergo toward the end of their work lives and in the years that follow.  The study has collected information about income, work, assets, pension plans, health insurance, disability, physical health and functioning, cognitive functioning, and health care expenditures.
National Children’s Study NCS National Institutes of Health (NIH) The National Children’s Study (NCS) will examine the effects of the environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21 years.  The goal of the Study is to improve the health and well-being of children and contribute to understanding the role various factors have on health and disease.  Findings from the Study will be made available as the research progresses, making potential benefits known to the public as soon as possible.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health NSDUH Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) This National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The survey is the primary source of information on the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 12 years old or older.