The Design and Implementation of the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health

Matern Child Health J. 2018 Aug;22(8):1093-1102. doi: 10.1007/s10995-018-2526-x.


Introduction Since 2001, the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) has funded and directed the National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) and the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN), unique sources of national and state-level data on child health and health care. Between 2012 and 2015, HRSA MCHB redesigned the surveys, combining content into a single survey, and shifting from a periodic interviewer-assisted telephone survey to an annual self-administered web/paper-based survey utilizing an address-based sampling frame. Methods The U.S. Census Bureau fielded the redesigned NSCH using a random sample of addresses drawn from the Census Master Address File, supplemented with a unique administrative flag to identify households most likely to include children. Data were collected June 2016-February 2017 using a multi-mode design, encouraging web-based responses while allowing for paper mail-in responses. A parent/caregiver knowledgeable about the child's health completed an age-appropriate questionnaire. Experiments on incentives, branding, and contact strategies were conducted. Results Data were released in September 2017. The final sample size was 50,212 children; the overall weighted response rate was 40.7%. Comparison of 2016 estimates to those from previous survey iterations are not appropriate due to sampling and mode changes. Discussion The NSCH remains an invaluable data source for key measures of child health and attendant health care system, family, and community factors. The redesigned survey extended the utility of this resource while seeking a balance between previous strengths and innovations now possible.

Keywords: Child health; Children with special health care needs; National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs; National Survey of Children’s Health; National and state estimates; Title V Maternal and Child Health Services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child Health*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Children
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Surveys* / methods
  • Health Surveys* / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research Design