The Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS) is a public data repository that harmonizes four decades of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The NHIS is the premier source of information on the health of the U.S. population. Since 1957 the survey has collected information on health behaviors, health conditions, and health care access. The long running time series of the NHIS is a powerful tool for health research. However, efforts to fully utilize its time span are obstructed by difficult documentation, unstable variable and coding definitions, and non-ignorable sample re-designs. To overcome these hurdles the IHIS, a freely available and web-accessible resource, provides harmonized NHIS data from 1969-2010. This paper describes the challenges of working with the NHIS and how the IHIS reduces such burdens. To demonstrate one potential use of the IHIS we examine utilization patterns in the U.S. from 1972-2008.
- Cohort study
- Health care utilization