National Center for Health Statistics

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, which provides statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the public health of the American people. NCHS is one of the principal statistical agencies in the federal government.

National Center for Health Statistics
Agency overview
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersHyattsville, Maryland, U.S.
Agency executive
  • Brian C. Moyer, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Health Statistics
Parent agencyUnited States Department of Health and Human Services

NCHS is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is under the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is headquartered at University Town Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.


The Public Health Service (PHS) Division of Sanitary Reports and Statistics was established in 1899. In 1943, it was merged into the Division of Public Health Methods, which was transferred from the National Institute of Health into the Office of the Surgeon General. In 1946, it absorbed the Vital Statistics Division from the Bureau of the Census and was renamed the National Office of Vital Statistics. It was transferred to the PHS Bureau of State Services in 1949.[1]

In 1960, the National Office of Vital Statistics and the National Health Survey merged to form the National Center for Health Statistics.[2] During the PHS reorganizations of 1966-1973 it was part of the Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA),[3] and afterwards was part of the Health Resources Administration.[4] Since 1987, it has been part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[2]

NCHS collects data with surveys, from other agencies and U.S. states, from administrative sources, and from partnerships with private health partners. NCHS collects data from birth and death records, medical records, interview surveys, and through direct physical examinations and laboratory testing. These diverse sources give perspectives to help understand the U.S. population's health, health outcomes, and influences on health.[5]

Data collection programsEdit

There are four major data collection programs at NCHS:

National Vital Statistics SystemEdit

The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) collects official vital statistics data based on the collection and registration of birth and death events at the state and local levels. NCHS works in partnership with the vital registration systems in each jurisdiction to produce critical information on such topics as teenage births and birth rates, prenatal care and birth weight, risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, infant mortality rates, leading causes of death, and life expectancy.

National Health Interview SurveyEdit

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) provides information on the health status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population through confidential interviews conducted in households by Census Bureau interviewers. NHIS is the Nation's largest in-person household health survey, providing data on health status, access to and use of health services, health insurance coverage, immunizations, risk factors, and health-related behaviors.

National Health and Nutrition Examination SurveyEdit

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is NCHS's most in-depth and logistically complex survey, operating out of mobile examination centers that travel to randomly selected sites throughout the U.S. to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans. This survey combines personal interviews with standardized physical examinations, diagnostic procedures, and laboratory tests to obtain information about diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions; growth and development, including overweight and obesity; diet and nutrition; risk factors; and environmental exposures.

National Health Care SurveysEdit

The National Health Care Surveys provide information about the organizations and providers that supply health care, the services they render, and the patients they serve. Provider sites surveyed include physician offices, community health centers, ambulatory surgery centers, hospital outpatient and emergency departments, inpatient hospital units, residential care facilities, nursing homes, home health care agencies, and hospice organizations. The National Health Care Surveys are used to study resource use, including staffing; quality of care, including patient safety; clinical management of specific conditions; disparities in the use and quality of care; and diffusion of health care technologies, including drugs, surgical procedures, and information technologies.

Other data collection programsEdit

In addition to its major data collection programs, NCHS conducts targeted surveys and augments survey data where possible. NCHS conducts the National Survey of Family Growth to obtain information on factors affecting birth and pregnancy rates, adoptions, and maternal and infant health, and supplements the information obtained on birth certificates collected through the National Vital Statistics System. NCHS's State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) produces state-level data on such topics as the health of children with special needs, to meet the data needs of its colleagues in HHS's Maternal and Child Health Bureau and elsewhere. NCHS's National Immunization Survey is conducted in collaboration with other CDC offices in Atlanta. NCHS's National Death Index creates a longitudinal component to other routine data systems. NCHS's Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory develops and test survey and data collection instruments for use by NCHS and other federal agencies and research organizations.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Records of the Public Health Service [PHS], 1912-1968". National Archives. 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2021-08-04.
  2. ^ a b c [1] About NCHS: Celebrating 50 Years
  3. ^ "Records of the Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA]". National Archives. 2016-08-15. Section 512.2. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  4. ^ History, mission, and organization of the Public Health Service. U.S. Public Health Service. 1976. pp. 3–4, 20, 22. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  5. ^ [2] Mostly Medicaid.

External linksEdit