Health Information National Trends Survey

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The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)[1] is a biennial, cross-sectional, nationally-representative survey of American adults sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. HINTS provides publicly available data on American adults' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and behaviors related to cancer prevention and control and communication.[2][3]

The survey provides updates on changing patterns and needs related to communication and health, identifies changing health communications trends and practices, assesses cancer information searching, sources used, and search experiences and provides information about how cancer is perceived by the public.

The HINTS data collection program provides national-level surveillance on health communication in the context of cancer prevention and control. HINTS data are publicly available and a large community of HINTS data users examines questions including how adults 18 years and older use different communication channels (e.g., the Internet) to obtain vital health information for themselves and their loved ones[4] and the experiences people have when they search for cancer information.[5] Program planners can use the data to overcome barriers to health information access and usage and to obtain data to help them create more effective communication strategies. Finally, social scientists use the data to refine theories of health communication and to recommend methods to reduce the burden of cancer.

HINTS data are available for public use and can be downloaded[6] from the National Cancer Institute.[7] As a national-level surveillance vehicle for cancer and health communication, HINTS can make valuable contributions to the larger cyberinfrastructure devoted to health and may potentially be leveraged with other national-level surveys (e.g., The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey[8] and National Health Interview Survey[9]) to gauge the effects of policy changes on population health.

HINTS Surveys[edit]

HINTS 2003[edit]

The first HINTS data (HINTS 2003) were collected between October 2002 and April 2003 via a Random Digit Dial (RDD) telephone survey using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) format to accommodate complex skip-patterns based on respondent's answers. Data were collected from 6,369 respondents.[10][11]

HINTS 2005[edit]

HINTS 2005 data were collected from February 2005 through August 2005. HINTS 2005 also used RDD/CATI and identical data collection procedures. Data were collected from 5,586 respondents.[12][13]

HINTS 2007[edit]

HINTS 2007 data were collected from December 2007 through May 2008. The sample design for HINTS 2007 consisted of two samples with each sample selected from a separate sample frame. One sample used the same RDD/CATI methodology as prior surveys. Survey administration averaged 30 minutes per respondent. Data were collected from 4,092 respondents.

The second sample was selected from United States Postal Service address administrative records. After the CATI instrument was modified to produce a printed questionnaire, the survey and a cover letter were sent to the address sample. All adults at each sampled address were asked to return the completed questionnaire in a postage-paid envelope. Data were collected from 3,582 respondents. Data from both surveys became available for public use in February 2009 along with a Final Report.[14] HINTS 2007 CATI Instruments,[15]

There is content in HINTS 2007 that is new to the survey, including items that focus on use of social networking media, personal health records, health services utilization, and patient provider communication.

HINTS knowledge products[edit]

Three categories of HINTS knowledge products are available: books/reports, HINTS briefs, and overview materials.

  • Books and reports include a special issue of the devoted to HINTS research as well as reports that summarize the results of HINTS 2003 and 2005[16][17] and that explain analytic strategies for evaluating trends between iterations of the survey.[18]
  • HINTS Briefs provide two page high-level summaries of HINTS research and are usually based on a HINTS study that appears in the peer-reviewed literature.[19] The briefs cover several topics, including sun safety,[20][21] and cancer information seeking behaviors.[22]

Finally, the HINTS overview materials include a HINTS brochure[23] and a HINTS fact sheet.[24] These overview materials can be useful to researchers presenting HINTS data at conferences when explaining their methodological approach.[25]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Hesse, B.W., Moser, R.P., Rutten, L.J.F., & Kreps, G.L. (2006). The Health Information National Trends Survey: Research From the Baseline. Journal of Health Communication, 11, 7-16
  3. ^ Nelson, D., Kreps, G., Hesse, B.W., Croyle, R., Willis, G., Arora, N.K., Rimer B., Viswanath, K., Weinstein, N., & Alden, S. (2004). The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS): Development, Design, and Dissemination. Journal of Health Communication, 9(5), 443-460
  4. ^ Hesse, B.W., Nelson, D.E., Kreps, G.L., Croyle, R.T., Arora, N.K., Rimer, B.K., & Viswanath, K. (2005). Trust and Sources of Health Information: Findings from the First Health Information National Trends Survey. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165, 2618-2624
  5. ^ Arora, N.K., Hesse, B.W., Rimer, B.K., Viswanath, K., Clayman, M.L., & Croyle, R.T. (2007). Frustrated and Confused: The American Public Rates its Cancer-Related Information Seeking Experiences. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(3), 223-228
  6. ^ Download registration
  7. ^ NCI
  8. ^ Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey
  9. ^ National Health Interview Survey
  10. ^ View the survey instruments, English here and version Spanish Spanish here
  11. ^ View the 2003 Final Report here
  12. ^ View the survey instruments, English here and Spanish here
  13. ^ See the 2005 Final Report Final report here
  14. ^ View final versions of the annotated survey instruments,HINTS 2007 Mail Instrument here
  15. ^ English here, Spanish here
  16. ^ Journal
  17. ^ Journal of Health Communication
  18. ^ Data Users Handbook
  19. ^ Briefs
  20. ^ Brief, human papillomavirus
  21. ^ Brief
  22. ^ Brief
  23. ^ HINTS Brochure
  24. ^ Fact sheet
  25. ^ Overview

External links[edit]