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 National Health Care Surveys

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New data collection efforts


The National Health Care Surveys are constantly being updated to address the most relevant policy questions today and in the future. Click on a topic below to read more about our innovations in a particular healthcare setting.


Ambulatory and hospital care

Long-term care

Ambulatory and hospital care


Physician offices (National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2008)

  • New data supplement
    Cervical Cancer Screening Supplement--administered in 2006, 2007, and 2008 to samples of NAMCS primary care providers who screen patients for cervical cancer. The purpose of supplement is to ascertain what approaches physicians are using to screen for cervical cancer and to manage patients with positive test results.
  • Sample size  expanded
    Community Health Centers--in a departure from the traditional NAMCS design where only physicians are sampled, beginning in 2006, the survey includes an additional sample of community health centers, allowing researchers to make estimates for the care they provide. Within community health centers, the NAMCS is sampling mid-level providers, in addition to physicians.
  • Supplemental survey
    Electronic Medical Records--supplemental survey about electronic medical records (EMRs) will be mailed to 2,000 office-based physicians in 2008 as a supplement to the NAMCS. EMR questions are comparable to those in the primary NAMCS survey, but no patient level data are collected.

Emergency and outpatient hospital departments (National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2008)


New data supplements

Pandemic and Emergency Response Preparedness Supplement, an extension of the bioterrorism supplements fielded in 2003-2004, this hospital questionnaire will examine various dimensions of hospital preparedness: including training of clinicians to treat weaponizable biological agents and exposures to chemicals and radiation, development of emergency response plans, availability of resources needed to treat such exposures such as negative pressure isolation rooms. The supplement has been updated to reflect newer public health priorities, including emergency response to influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Cervical Cancer Screening Supplement--administered in 2006, 2007, and 2008 to hospitals with outpatient departments which screen patients for cervical cancer. The survey will allow us to examine practices regarding the provision of human papilloma virus (HPV) tests for approved and non-approved uses, cervical cancer screening methods, use of HPV tests as an adjunct to Pap testing, use of HPV test results for managing patients with abnormal Pap tests, and potential impact of HPV testing on lengthening Pap testing screening intervals. Some questions will allow evaluation of adherence to recent national guidelines about use of HPV testing a) as an adjunct to Pap testing and b) for management of patients with abnormal Pap tests.

Hospital inpatient departments (National Hospital Discharge Survey)

The NHDS is undergoing a major effort to improve the flexibility of it's design. Currently, data collection is tied to the data elements included on the Uniform Bill (UB-92). An effort is under way to redesign the NHDS to allow for more flexibility in data collected from hospitals. Desired changes include estimates of hospital charges, collection of more in-depth data on patient safety and quality, and improved data on race and ethnicity. A feasibility study was completed in 2007. A pilot and pre-test are being conducted in 2008, and a redesigned survey is planned for 2010.


Ambulatory surgery (National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery)

Back in the field!


NSAS is the only nationally representative sample of ambulatory surgery visits. In 2006, we went back into the field to collect data from hospital-based and freestanding ambulatory surgery facilities for the first time in 10 years. Our 2006 survey has detailed data on facility characteristics. Data and reports will be available in 2008.


Long-term care


Residential care facilities (National Survey of Residential Care Facilities)


A new survey of residential care facilities is under construction to be fielded for the first time in 2010.

The National Survey of Residential Care Facilities will be used to address important research and policy questions:

  • What are the number and characteristics of residential care facilities? Characteristics include number of units and beds; occupancy rate; ownership (profit/nonprofit, chains/stand-alone small businesses); geography and location (urban/rural); and type of facility (e.g., the extent to which facilities provide private rooms and bathrooms and a high level of services). What are admission and discharge policies? What proportion of facilities serve Medicaid beneficiaries, and if not, why not? Do facilities use restraints? Do facilities use negotiated risk contracts?
  • What services and staff are available in residential care facilities? What services do residential care facilities provide and at what level and cost? What services are included in the basic rate? What services are available for additional charges? What skilled services are available and who provides them? Does the facility use or allow outside providers, such as hospice and home health agencies? What is the staff turnover rate? Do facilities that serve residents with a high level of impairment and health needs have more and better trained staff?
  • What are the number and characteristics of residents in residential care facilities?
    What are residents' sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, race, education, ethnic  group, family)? What are the residents' health condition and cognitive and functional status? What is the average length of stay in residential care facilities and the reasons for entering and exiting? How do people pay for residential care? What are the charges for care? How do resident characteristics and outcomes vary by type of residential care facility?

Nursing homes (National Nursing Home Survey, National Nursing Assistant Survey)

Our next surveys are still being planned.


Data are now available from the 2004 surveys. Relative to earlier surveys, the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey has many new features, including:

  • Data on medications taken by current nursing home residents.
  • Questions on advance directives and end-of-life care.
  • Information on the professional background of key nursing home personnel.
  • Data on nursing staffing, including turnover information.

The National Nursing Assistant Survey was conducted for the first time in 2004:

  • Interviews of nursing assistants were conducted as part of the 2004 NNHS.
  • Information on nursing assistants' plans to stay in current positions.
  • Questions on job satisfaction, work environment, and more.

Home and hospice care (National Home and Hospice Care Survey)

Our next NHHCS is currently being conducted (August to December 2007) and will have new information on:

  • Medications
  • End-of-life care
  • Staffing
  • Key administrative personnel
  • Electronic medical records

It will also include a first-time National Home Health Aide Survey:

  • Interviews of home health aides conducted as part of the 2007 NHHCS.
  • Collecting information comparable to that in the 2004 National Nursing Assistant Survey.


Page Last Modified: December 09, 2008

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