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National Nursing Home Survey (NNHS)


The National Nursing Home Survey (NNHS) collects and provides national estimates on the characteristics of nursing homes and their residents and staff.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (CDC/NCHS)

Data Years Available

Seven surveys: the first being August 1973-April 1974; the most recent August 2004-January 2005.




Facility data are obtained via personal interviews with the facility administrator; resident data are provided by staff familiar with the care provided to the resident.

Selected Content

Facility specific data include characteristics such as bed size, ownership, staffing, services offered, expenses, and charges. Resident data include demographic characteristics, health status, level of assistance needed with activities of daily living, services received, source of payment, and discharge disposition (for discharges).

Population covered

Surveys since 1995 include only nursing homes that provide some level of nursing care. Homes providing only personal or domiciliary care are excluded.


The survey uses a stratified two-stage probability design. The first stage is the selection of the facilities and the second stage is the selection of residents and discharges. The survey was redesigned in 2004: In the 2004 survey, 12 current residents from each facility were selected to participate in the survey. Current residents are those on the facility's roster as of the night before the survey. Discharges are those who are formally discharged from care by the facility during a designated reference period randomly selected before data collection. Both living and dead discharges are selected. Residents are counted more than once if they were discharged more than once during the reference period.

Response rate and sample size

For the 2004 survey, 1,500 nursing homes were selected; the facility response rate was 81%.

Interpretation Issues

Samples of discharges and residents contain different populations with different characteristics. The resident sample is more likely long-term nursing home residents and, conversely, underestimate short nursing home stays. Because short-term residents are less likely to be on the nursing home rolls on a given night, they are less likely to be sampled. Estimates of discharges underestimate long nursing home stays.


National Center for Health Statistics. Health United States 2009: With Special Feature on Medical Technology. Hyattsville, Maryland. 2010; pp 465-466.