About the NSCH data

The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) is an electronic (web) and paper based (mail-in) survey of parent(s)/guardian(s) with non-institutionalized children under 18 years of age. The purpose of the survey is to generate data about children, their families, and neighborhoods to help guide policymakers, advocates, and researchers.  Baseline estimates are used for federal and state Title V Maternal and Child Health performance measures, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau companion objectives for Healthy People 2010/2020, and data for each state’s 5-year Title V needs assessment.

 

The national survey (50 states and Washington DC) provides reasonably precise estimates from a representative sample of children under 18 years of age. In 2019-2020, a national total of 72,210 child-level topical interviews (44.6% overall response rate), including 1,233 in Minnesota (50.5% overall response rate), were collected via electronic (web) and paper based (mail in) survey between June 2019 and January 2020. A new survey design was applied in 2016 to address declining response rates and higher costs associated with telephone-based surveys.    

The survey covers information on more than 70 child health and well-being indicators including:  

  • Physical and dental health.
  • Emotional and mental health.
  • Health insurance coverage.
  • Health care access/medical homes and quality.
  • Community and school activities/experiences.
  • Family health and activities.
  • Neighborhood safety and support.
  • Data collection: 2003 to 2012
    • Telephone survey conducted in English and Spanish every 5 years.
    • The National Center for Health Statistics’ State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) program carried out sampling and data collection. 
    • Telephone numbers are called at random to identify households with one or more children under 18 years old. In each household, one child was randomly selected to be the subject of the interview.
    • Landline phones were exclusively used in 2003 to 2008 survey years; addition of cellular phones occurred in 2011 to 2012.
    • Survey results are weighted to represent the population of non-institutionalized children under 18 years old nationally and in each state. 
    • Data files are downloadable at the National Center for Health Statistics.

 

NSCH survey year

U.S. completed surveys

State completed surveys

More information

2003 to 2004

102,353

1,483 to 2,241

NSCH, 2003/2004

2007 to 2008

91,642

1,725 to 1,932

NSCH, 2007/2008

2011 to 2012

95,677

1,811 to 2,200

NSCH, 2011/2012

 

  • Data collection: since 2016
    • Electronic (web) and paper based (mail-in) survey conducted in English and Spanish every year, using an address-based sampling frame.
    • The U.S. Census Bureau carried out the survey for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services.  
    • The survey over-sampled children under age 6 and children with special health care needs (CHSCN). This means that in households with 2 or more children, CSHCN and children under 6 years had a higher probability of being selected, compared to other children in the household.
    • Survey results are weighted to represent the population of non-institutionalized children under 18 years old nationally and in each state.
    • Data files are downloadable at the U.S. Census Bureau, NSCH.

 

NSCH survey year

U.S. completed surveys

State completed surveys

More information

2016

50,212

638 to 1,351

NSCH, 2016

  • Self-reported by parent or guardian.
  • Cross-sectional survey design does not allow determination of cause and effect.
  • A little over half of Minnesota households in the sample completed the survey (50.5% overall response rate). 

  • Major survey methodology changes occurred in 2016. Therefore, caution should be used when comparing current data to survey years prior to 2016.  

    • 2003 to 2012 NSCH surveys used a telephone-based sample. NSCH surveys since 2016 use an address-based sample. 

    • 2003 to 2012 NSCH surveys defined Poverty using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines. The 2016 NSCH survey defined Poverty using U.S. Census Bureau Poverty Threshold values.   

  • 2003 to 2012 NSCH Survey
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) defines federal poverty levels based on Poverty Guidelines. DHHS Poverty Guidelines are used primarily for administrative purposes, for example to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. The HHS Guidelines change each year, issued in the Federal Register. As a result, caution must be used when comparing indicators in the National Survey of Children’s Health data by poverty level across years. 
  • 2016 to 2020 NSCH Survey 
    • Family Poverty Ratio (FPL) – the family poverty ratio is calculated as the ratio of total family income and the family poverty threshold, reported as a rounded percentage. The family poverty threshold comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Poverty Thresholds. Thresholds do not vary across geographies, but vary by family size and the number of related children under 18 years. Poverty Thresholds are used primarily for statistical purposes. 

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). Collected by the Minnesota Oral Health Program. St. Paul, Minnesota: MN Public Health Data Access portal. [Add URL] Retrieved month, year.