Sample design and estimation structures for the National Health Interview Survey, 2016–2025
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Sample design and estimation structures for the National Health Interview Survey, 2016–2025

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      Background: The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is one of the major surveys sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NHIS conducts household interviews throughout the United States to collect health-related information from the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. After the 2010 decennial census, NCHS’ Division of Research and Methodology and the Division of Health Interview Statistics collaborated with the U.S. Census Bureau (through an interagency agreement that includes the collection of data in the field) on the NHIS sample redesign.

      The 2016–2025 NHIS sample design uses cost-effective complex sampling techniques including stratification, clustering, and differential sampling rates to achieve several objectives, such as transitioning away from a fully enumerated sample list frame and allowing for flexible annual sample sizes. This report describes these methods.

      Objectives: This report presents operating characteristics of the NHIS 2016–2025 sample design. The general sampling structure is presented, along with a discussion of weighting and variance estimation techniques primarily for 2016–2018. This report is organized into four major sections. The first section presents a general overview of NHIS and its sample design. The second section describes the redesign process, updates for 2016–2025, and includes general frame and sample design considerations. The third section provides a more detailed description of the sample design and how the sample was selected. The last two sections present a description of the estimators used in NHIS for analyzing and summarizing survey results. Documentation for subsequent changes to the sampling and weighting procedures is available on the NCHS website as separate reports and through each year’s survey description document. This report is intended for general users of NHIS data.

      Suggested citation: Moriarity C, Parsons VL, Jonas K, Schar BG, Bose J, Bramlett MD. Sample design and estimation structures for the National Health Interview Survey, 2016–2025. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 2(191). 2022. DOI:


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