National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Database Name: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Description

Data source

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies created to assess the health and nutritional status of children and adults in the United States. The program is administered by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The NCHS has the responsibility for producing vital and health statistics for the nation.

Overview of data contents

A primary aim of NHANES is to collect and compile data on the health and nutritional status of study participants. Particular emphasis is placed on data regarding the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases. Information is derived from participant interviews as well as physical and laboratory examinations. Minority populations are oversampled to produce reliable statistics. 

Patient ages included

Data is available for all ages of patients, including newborns. The sample for each two-year survey cycle is selected to represent the U.S. population of all ages.

Practice

Information is collected by highly trained professionals during visits specifically planned for data acquisition. Health interviews are conducted in participants' homes, and physical and laboratory examinations are conducted in specially-designed mobile examination centers, which travel to locations across the country. 

Date range available

The program began in the early 1960s, after which three large surveys were conducted and are referred to as NHANES I, II, and III. In 1999, the survey became a continuous program, and data has since been released in two-year cycles, with approximately 5,000 individuals evaluated each year. 

Relevant Work

Example publications
 

Association of hearing loss with hospitalization and burden of disease in older adults.Genther DJ, Frick KD, Chen D, Betz J, Lin FR.JAMA. 2013 Jun 12;309(22):2322-4 

Change in prevalence of hearing loss in US adolescents. Shargorodsky J, Curhan SG, Curhan GC, Eavey R. JAMA. 2010 Aug 18;304(7):772-8.

OREBM Committee member(s) with experience

Not applicable.

Access 

Cost estimate(s)

Use of this dataset is free of charge.

Contact/website information


http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm

National Center for Health Statistics
3311 Toledo Rd Room 5419
Hyattsville, MD 20782

1 (800) 232-4636

Practicalities 

Ease of use

Comprehensive online tutorials are available to walk the user through every aspect of the dataset, including downloading data and constructing a database using statistical analysis software. To fully complete the tutorial requires 3-4 days of computer time. However, once complete, acquisition and analysis of the data is quite simple and straightforward.

Data analysis

Data acquisition and analysis is covered extensively in the online tutorials, including specific modules for common statistical software such as SAS and Stata. All data is cross-sectional in nature, so there is no opportunity for longitudinal analysis. Data acquisition and analysis is covered extensively in the online tutorials, including specific modules for common statistical software such as SAS and Stata. All data is cross-sectional in nature, so there is no opportunity for longitudinal analysis.

Pros

Use of the contained data is free of charge, and the variety of the data is extensive. The online tutorials provide the information required for using this dataset and successfully analyzing data. Additionally, there is a large amount of online supporting documentation available to answer specific questions. 

Cons

All data in NHANES is cross-sectional, which limits the types of studies that can be performed. Certain information is only available for subgroups of participants in certain 2-year cycles, which may hinder specific topics from being studied in a given age group.