National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)

About the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

The NHIS is a continuous, nationwide in-person survey of approximately 35,000 households, or about 87,500 persons, in the civilian non-institutionalized population. This sample size can fluctuate based on available funding. The NHIS over samples African-American and Hispanic respondents. NCI periodically sponsors a Cancer Control Supplement (CCS) on the NHIS, which is administered to the sample adult in the selected household.

First administered in 1957, the NHIS consists of a core set of basic health and demographic questions on a broad range of topic as well as one or more sets of supplemental questions on specific health topics, including cancer. The NHIS serves as the main source of U.S. data on a broad range of health topics. It has historically been used for monitoring health patterns and trends, as well as tracking progress towards national goals. Data from NHIS also are widely used for research and policy analyses.

The NHIS is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is administered by the US Census Bureau. Information about the NHIS, including questionnaires, documentation, and datasets, is available on the National Center for Health Statistics NHIS Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)

The NHIS CCS is administered every five years and focuses on issues pertaining to knowledge, attitudes, and practices of cancer-related health behaviors, screening, and risk assessment. The CCS covers a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • cancer screening;
  • diet and nutrition;
  • physical activity;
  • sun protection;
  • tobacco use and control;
  • genetic testing;
  • family history of cancer;
  • cancer risk assessment; and
  • cancer survivorship (1992 and 2010 surveys only).

The CCS was first administered in 1987 to one sample adult aged 18 years or older in each household that participated in the NHIS. The CCS was subsequently administered in 1992, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. A subset of cancer screening questions has been administered intermittently since 2000.

From 1987 to 1992, the CCS used a split-sample design which allowed administration of more questions. Starting in 2000, NCI abandoned this design and all questions were administered to the entire adult sample in order to increase the sample size in population subgroups. Additionally, survey items were limited to behaviors only.

Before 2005, respondents were asked about their ethnicity, and if they identified themselves as Hispanic/Latino, they were administered a section on Hispanic Acculturation. In 2005, NCI replaced the Hispanic Acculturation section with questions on language and time in the United States that were asked of all respondents.

NHIS CCS data are used for monitoring Healthy PeopleExternal Web Site Policy cancer control objectives. They have also been used in NCI's Cancer Trends Progress Report and in many published peer-reviewed manuscripts.

The NHIS CCS is co-sponsored by NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences and CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Current Status of the NHIS CCS

2015 NHIS CCS data are now available on the NCHS Web siteExternal Web Site Policy.

The NHIS is currently undergoing a complete redesign, which will go into the field starting in 2018. As a result of this redesign, the CCS will also be overhauled. NCI and CDC staff are working together to conceptualize the next iteration of the CCS and determine a rotating schedule of content.