National Invitational Conference on Long-Term Care Data Bases: Conference Proceedings. Overview of The 1985 National Nursing Home Survey


Evelyn Mathis, National Center for Health Statistics

The National Nursing Home Survey (NNHS) system was developed in 1972 to learn more about the residents of nursing and personal care homes and the services they received. The survey produces data from two perspectives. These are that of the recipient of services and that of the provider of services.

The purpose of the NNHS is to collect comprehensive information about nursing facilities, their services, their residents, their discharges and their staff. Estimates from the survey are from all nursing and related care facilities, without regard to licensure or Medicare/Medicaid certification status. All information are collected under a guarantee of confidentiality and the survey is voluntary.

The 1985 NNHS was the third in a series in nursing home surveys. The first survey was done in 1973, and the second in 1977. These three surveys were preceded by a series of surveys between 1963-1969, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which were called the Resident Places Surveys.

While each of these past surveys emphasized different topics, they all provided some common basic information about nursing homes as well as about their residents and staff.

The 1985 survey was jointly funded by NCHS and several other Federal agencies. The sample selected for the 1985 survey consisted of 1,220 nursing and related care homes. The data were collected through a combination of personal interviews, and self-enumeration, through the use of six components or questionnaires.

Information about the facility itself was collected through a personal interview with the administrator or a designee. These were the number of beds, type of ownership, certification status, number and kinds of staff, and per them rates.

With the administrator's permission, a questionnaire was sent to the facility's accountant to obtain basic expense and revenue information. The administrators and their accountants are also given the option of submitting a recent financial statement in lieu of completing the expense questionnaire. The sample includes a maximum of four registered nurses per facility to obtain demographic characteristics of registered nurses (RN's) working in nursing homes. Information is obtained about their level of education and information related to job retention, salaries, and duties.

In 1985, the staff sample was limited to RN's.

Information was collected on a sample of no more than five current residents and six discharges.

In addition to the basic demographic characteristics about the residents and discharges, data were collected about their medical condition, impairment, hospitalization during the nursing home stay, functional limitation, the services they received, a history of nursing home utilization, and sources of payment for their care.

A family member or other acquaintance of the current residents and discharges was contacted by telephone to obtain data on the resident's health and functioning status during the period preceding the admission and prior episodes of health care, information which generally is not available in the facilities' records.

Ninety-three percent of the facilities who were eligible to participate in the NNHS actually participated. The results of the 1985 NNHS will be released in Advance Data reports, Series 13 reports, and public use computer tapes.

No information will be on the public use tapes which could lead to their identification of individual residents or facilities.

Two Advance Data reports have been published. One is on the characteristics of nursing homes, and the other on the utilization of nursing homes. Other reports from this survey are in various stages of preparation.

Before we send the tapes or the documentation to National Technical Information Service (NTIS), we do distribute the public use tapes right from NCHS, and you can give us your name, telephone number and address, and we will send you information on how to order the tapes.

We hope to have the tapes ready for distribution from NCHS by early August. The tapes are ready, but the documentation to be able to interpret the tapes is in preparation now.


View full report


"87cfproc.pdf" (pdf, 2.52Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®