of Health Plans Survey (CAHPS),5 the National Immunization Survey (NIS), the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the National Maternal and Infant Health Survey (NMIHS), the National Mortality Followback Survey, and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. In addition, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-level survey developed by DHHS in collaboration with the states to monitor state-level prevalence of behavioral risks among adults (such as drug and alcohol use, presence of diseases such as diabetes, and level of exercise, among other things). The survey contains a core survey that is common across all states so that state comparisons can be made, and states can add their own questions to address the needs of their own populations.

Racial and Ethnic Data Collection

Each of the surveys described above is required to collect racial and ethnic data based on the revised OMB standards. Thus, each at a minimum collects data on whether the individual is white, black, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, allows respondents to check multiple categories of race, and includes a question on Hispanic ethnic origin. For the BRFSS, racial and ethnic data are collected as part of the core survey and the OMB standards are used. Other surveys collect additional categories of race and ethnicity. For example, the NHIS allows respondents to indicate whether they are Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese, and the National Immunization Survey (NIS) allows respondents to identify themselves as Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or other Spanish ethnicity.

Socioeconomic Position Data Collection

National household surveys provide some of the most extensive data on socioeconomic position of all the DHHS health-related data systems, with the NHIS, NHANES, and MEPS collecting the most data on SEP.6 All three of these surveys collect information on employment status, occupation, sources of income and amounts of income from each source, and education levels. Only the MEPS collects information on wealth, requesting


CAHPS is a survey tool kit developed by DHHS to survey consumers and purchasers of health plans. A CAHPS-based Medicare questionnaire was developed and has each year, since 1998, been sent to a sample of Medicare managed care enrollees.


See the paper by O’Campo and Burke in Appendix C, for a complete account of which SEP data are collected by DHHS surveys.

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