The Health of Houston Survey (HHS) is the largest health survey of adults and children in Harris County and the City of Houston. The survey is a valuable source of statistics on health, health care and insurance, cancer screening, mental health, health behaviors and neighborhood conditions at county, city and neighborhood levels. We provide user-friendly access to data through two web-based programs, InstantAtlas and Nesstar. The first HHS was conducted in 2010, the second was completed in 2018.
Maps of health conditions across the Houston area
Indicators mapped in InstantAtlas are updated with new 2018 survey data, using the 38 Harris County Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA). To see area percentages, maps and rankings for the 2018 and 2010 health indicators across the Houston area, click Single Indicator Map
in InstantAtlas (IA). IA also provides the ability to compare various indicators to Houston area rates. An exporting option is available for presentations.
If interested to see a full profile for each subcounty area (PUMA), click Area Profile Map. Maps will be available for comparing the 2018 data with 2010. To learn how to get started with InstantAtlas, see example instruction videos on the right side of the page and visit FAQs. If you would like to receive updates and notices about addition of variables and new map displays, please register here. Registration helps us learn who is interested in the data and tailor our analyses and presentations to diverse audiences.
Quick statistics and accessing the data
To explore the new 2018 and 2010 datasets, variables and questions asked, open Nesstar. This software will also allow you to run quick summaries, to produce tables and graphs as well as to download the data and corresponding documentation. To download study documentation, once you have entered Nesstar, click this icon , on the top right side of the screen.
To request a dataset, please fill out a standard public use file data agreement form and send it to HealthofHouston@uth.tmc.edu. If you would like to receive updates and notices about dataset updates, please register here. Data users can learn how to get started with Nesstar by seeing the instruction examples on the right side of the page.
HHS methodology reports
Gathering information for a healthier Houston
The Health of Houston Survey is intended to provide communities with free and fully-accessible information about the health of people living in the Houston area.
The survey supports the efforts of health agencies, service providers, and community organizations to have more accurate and up-to-date health information about Houston at the community level.
We also provide a reliable, efficient and flexible infrastructure for accessing survey data to track emerging health issues, assess the impact of health programs, and document health improvements in valid and fully-comparable ways in the Houston area.
Additionally, HHS2010 is a gift to the Houston community in that the data is free and accessible through a web-based, interactive and user-friendly interface for both experienced and inexperienced users. For making this possible, we are grateful to our donors. The Houston Endowment and UTHealth supported the survey in 2010. For the 2018 HHS, support was provided by:
- Houston Endowment
- Episcopal Health Foundation
- Texas Children’s Hospital
- Memorial Hermann Health System
- Community Health Choice/Harris Health System
- UTHealth, President’s Excellence Fund
- UTHealth School of Public Health, Office of the Dean
- Texas Medical Center, Health Policy Institute
The Health of Houston Survey has four distinctive characteristics which are novel to population surveys in this area. We believe these features are necessary to achieve the ultimate end goal - organizations use the data to improve the health of residents in the Houston area.
Determining health information needs
The HHS questionnaire was created to match the health information needs of organizations that work to improve Greater Houston residents’ health. To determine those needs, in 2009 we invited organizations focused on health and local health authorities to provide suggestions on topic priorities. These organizations included:
Their respective members provided feedback based on their own organizational priorities and professional experience through a web-based form. We also solicited suggestions based on community priorities from all Super Neighborhood Councils in the City of Houston and all the civic associations with mail or email addresses.
Respondents ranked a list of provided topics and were invited to suggest new topics, to identify demographic groups/populations that were of particular interest and to name regularly used sources of data for program planning and grant proposals.
Organizations and individuals visiting the HHS website were also able to provide input to the online form. To see a summary of the results of the feedback please see our Input Summary Fact Sheet. Read more
2018 questionnaire is largely based on 2010 questions, the core of which we preserved for data comparability across years. New items were solicited via email from all the stakeholders involved in providing topics in 2010 as well as from 2010 data users. Mid-way through data collection, our community was faced with the effects of flooding from Hurricane Harvey, which prompted the need to add new Harvey-related questions. These new questions were administered to the rest of the sample that was interviewed six to nine months after Harvey.
The Health of Houston Survey is designed to have a representative sample of residents of the Houston area across aggregations of Public Use Microdata Areas or PUMAs (see map), as well as across various groups defined by sociodemographic characteristics such as race and ethnicity, poverty level and gender.
The survey was available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese and administered using telephone interviews, web and mail. Certain populations were oversampled, including the Vietnamese, Asian and African Americans using a disproportionate stratified design. Primary strata were the 1-percent PUMAs whereas the secondary strata cluster Census block groups based on the incidence of ethnic minority households. To encourage participation, all participants received incentives. To know more about the survey methodology please read 2010 Methodology Report.
In 2017-18, HHS employed a dual-frame Random Digit Dialing sample design, using a combination of landline phones and cellphones. HHS started data collection in June 2017 but half-way to completion, in August 2017, it had to pause due to Harvey-related flooding. The survey resumed again in February 2018, at which time the instrument was modified to include questions on how the Hurricane impacted the lives of Houstonians, specifically in areas related to health conditions post-Harvey, flooding and property damage, income, employment, evacuation, assistance/aid and recovery. At the same time, to accommodate Harvey-related questions, other questions that were not part of core questionnaire were dropped.
Read more about the 2018 methodology here.
Faculty and staff
The Health of Houston Survey Project is based in the Institute for Health Policy at The University of Texas School of Public Health.
Stephen Linder, PhD - Faculty and Principal Investigator
Dritana Marko, MD - Faculty and Project Director
Jessica Tullar, PhD - Faculty and Survey Epidemiologist
Tom Reynolds, PhD - Research and Technical Support
Patty Poole - Administrative Support
For more information about the Health of Houston Survey, contact Dr. Dritana Marko at 210-276-9041 or email Dritana.Marko@uth.tmc.edu
Institute for Health Policy
The University of Texas School of Public Health
P.O. Box 20186
Houston, TX 77225