HIS - Health Interview Survey

Last updated on 13-1-2022 by Sabine Drieskens
January 1, 1996
Project with no end date

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In short

A national Health Interview Survey (HIS) provides an overall picture of the health status of the population and allows to identify the main health problems, as well as the social and behavioral factors that influence them. This information enables health authorities to pursue a proactive health policy aimed at improving public health and addressing the needs of groups at risk. Researchers, experts and the press use the results of the HIS.

Project summary

We organized a large-scale Health Interview Survey (HIS) among the Belgian population for the first time in 1997, something we have repeated every 4 to 5 years since. We will organize the 7th HIS in 2023.

The HIS collects information on a wide range of health topics: physical and mental health, lifestyle, use of health care and preventive services, perception of the physical and social environment, etc. Furthermore, the HIS has been part of the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) since 2013. This allows not only to study time trends in different health domains and in health inequalities, but also to compare the Belgian results with those of the other EU Member States. In 2018, a nurse also visited some of the HIS participants to perform some health measurements, e.g. height, weight, blood pressure and a blood and urine collection (Health Examination Survey – HES).

Method and sample

The HIS is a cross-sectional population survey with a net sample of 10,000 participants. A stratified multi-stage, clustered sampling method is applied in which the regional numbers are fixed (3,500 participants each in the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region and 3,000 in the Brussels Region), with possible oversampling of certain groups. The National Register is used as a sampling framework. In each region a limited number of municipalities are selected, from which a limited number of households are then selected. A maximum of 4 members per household can participate in the interview. In order to take non-participation into account and to ensure the predetermined net sample size is achieved, non-participating households are replaced. 

The fieldwork is spread over a calendar year. First, the selected households receive an introductory letter and an information folder and then a trained interviewer visits the respondents’ homes to conduct the interview. Data collection is done using a Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI). There is no age limit for participation, but a proxy interview is used for children under 15 years of age. The more sensitive data are collected using a self-administered questionnaire and should only be completed by respondents aged 15 and over.

The survey has been approved by the Data Protection Authority and has also received positive review from the Ethics Committee of Ghent University Hospital.

For more information on the sample and the fieldwork, see the HIS 2018 methodological report (Dutch version - French version).

Protocol and questionnaires

  • The PDF icon study protocol describes the objectives, the scientific relevance, the methodology, the communication of results and reporting, the ethical aspects and the organization of the project.
  • The questionnaires are available in Dutch, French, German and English. Since the HIS 2013, the face-to-face questionnaire has been administered via a computer (Computer Assisted Personal Interview — CAPI). The reference person or his/her partner answers the File household level questionnaire each selected person (up to a maximum of 4 people per household) answers the File individual questionnaire that may be partly completed by a proxy. In addition, each selected person aged 15 years and over answers a PDF icon written questionnaire that includes the generally more sensitive questions. This questionnaire cannot be completed by a proxy.

Procedure for accessing the Health Interview Survey microdata

The HIS 2018 database includes data on health status, lifestyle, use of health services and socio-demographic characteristics of a representative sample of the Belgian population. The steps that have to be followed to query this database are described in detail in this procedure.

Results

The widespread use of the HIS data encourages the development of evidence-based health policies, which in turn improves the health of the population and reduces health inequalities. That is why we aim to facilitate the procedure for external users to access the HIS data.

All HIS results are available online in extensive reports and via the interactive tool HISIA, which can be used to conduct your own analyses. 

Below you will find the reports of the results of the HIS 2018 and the HIS 2013 organized by topic.

Health Interview Survey 2018:

Health and quality of life

Lifestyle

Preventive knowledge and practices

Mental health and well-being

Use of health services

Health and society

 

Health Interview Survey 2013

 

You can also request by email the protocol, the questionnaires and the reports of the previous Health Interview Surveys (2008, 2004, 2001 and 1997).

Any further questions about the Health Interview Survey? Contact the HIS team. 

Read more about the other surveys of the Health Surveys unit.

Associated publications

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