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About the National Survey of Children’s Health

What is the National Survey of Children’s Health?

The NSCH is a household survey that produces national and state-level data on the physical and emotional health of children 0 - 17 years old in the United States. The survey collects information related to the health and well-being of children, including access to and use of health care, family interactions, parental health, school and after-school experiences, and neighborhood characteristics.

Why is the National Survey of Children’s Health important?

The NSCH is the only national and state-level survey on the health and well-being of children, their families, and their communities. The NSCH is essential to:

  • state-level planning and program development.
  • federal policy and program development.
  • general scientific research on public health.

What kinds of questions does the survey ask?

Survey topics include:

  • Child and family characteristics
  • Physical and mental health status, including current conditions and functional difficulties
  • Health insurance status, type, and adequacy
  • Access and use of health care services
  • Medical, dental, and specialty care needed and received
  • Family health and activities
  • Impact of child’s health on family
  • Neighborhood characteristics

Why does the National Survey of Children’s Health ask such detailed questions?

Detailed information is collected because many of the child health challenges faced by families, communities, and states are complicated. In addition, the survey is the only source of information in the country on some health conditions and needs.

How are data collected?

Participants can answer survey questions online, by mail, or over the phone. Participants first complete a screener questionnaire NSCH-S1(or S1) to determine if their address represents an occupied residence, and if there are eligible children ages 0-17 living at the sampled address.

Participants then complete a topical questionnaire asking detailed questions about one randomly selected child in the household. Households receive one of the three age-specific topical questionnaires based on the age of the sampled child:

  • NSCH-T1(or T1) for children aged 0-5 years,
  • NSCH-T2(or T2) for children aged 6-11 years, or
  • NSCH-T3 (or T3) for children aged 12-17 years.

For more information about the survey design see our Technical Documentation Page.

Where can I find copies of the questionnaire?

Census publishes informational versions of the paper questionnaires at the start of data collection. Questionnaires are located on our Questionnaire Page.


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How often are data collected and released?

Since 2016, the NSCH has been an annual survey. The survey supports national estimates every year and state-level estimates by combining 2 or 3 years of data. The NSCH data files are released every October.

What type of data is available?

Census publishes the data in both STATA and SAS files located on our Data Page. Users can also find published tables through an interactive data query on the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) Data Resource Center (DRC) website.

Is there a way to navigate or search for specific data variables?

Yes, the NSCH codebook can help users find specific data and identifies changes over time.

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Additional information about this survey can be found on the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s NSCH website.


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