At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Identifies changing communications trends, practices, and needs.
  • Includes use of various Internet resources, such as social networking sites.
  • Respondents are asked whether they have children and the number of children younger than age 18 years residing in their household.
  • Gathers information about adults’ attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to diet, physical activity, sleep, and obesity that may affect their children.



To collect data about how adults in the United States (U.S.) access and use information related to cancer and general health.

Target Population

Non-Institutionalized Adults 18 years and older. Data are collected in all 50 states.


Began in 2003. Conducted biennially from 2003 to 2007. HINTS 1 (2003), HINTS 2 (2005), HINTS 3 (2007); annually starting in 2011, HINTS 4 Cycle 1 (2011), HINTS 4 Cycle 2 (2012), HINTS 4 Cycle 3 (2013), HINTS 5 Cycle 1 (2017), HINTS 5 Cycle 2 (2018), and HINTS 5 Cycle 3 (2019).


National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Special Note(s)

System Contact:


Sample Design

Cross-sectional, stratified random sampling, nationally representative. Learn more. Additional information regarding the Hints 4 Cycle 4 methodology is available online. Learn more. HINTS 5 instruments will be coming soon.

Sample Size

Approximately 7,700 adults in the HINTS 3 Survey. HINTS 1 had 6,369 respondents and HINTS 2 had 5,586 respondents. The combined sample size for all four cycles of HINTS 4 will be greater than 14,000 respondents, more than twice the size of previous rounds of HINTS data collections. The combined sample size for all four cycles of HINTS 5 and additional cycle of HINTS-FDA data will be greater than 17,000 respondents.

Special Note(s)

HINTS 1 and HINTS 2 used list-assisted Random Digit Dialing (RDD) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) methods. HINTS 3 used a dual frame/dual mode method. One sample was obtained using Addressed Based Sampling (ABS), with surveys completed through the US mail. Data were collected from 3,582 respondents by mail. Data also were collected from 4,092 individuals using RDD and a telephone interview. Learn more about the HINTS sampling strategies in the respective Final Reports. All cycles of HINTS 4 used Addressed Based Sampling (ABS) and a self-administered mail survey.

Weights are provided to allow for U.S. population estimates from either sample independently or a combined sample.

HINTS sample sizes at the state level are too small to produce reliable results.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
English fluencyInterview/questionnaire
Household incomeInterview/questionnaire
Household size (number of related and unrelated members)Interview/questionnaire
Whether respondent has children younger than age 18 yearsInterview/questionnaire
Whether respondent was born in the U.S.; if not, what year came to USInterview/questionnaire
Whether respondent rents or owns homeInterview/questionnaire
Whether respondent is able to save money each monthInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Amounts of fruits and vegetables respondent believes should be consumed each day for good healthInterview/questionnaire
Awareness of, attention to, beliefs about, and response to new nutrition recommendationsInterview/questionnaire
Frequency of fruit consumption (includes daily servings)Interview/questionnaire
Frequency of vegetable consumption (includes daily servings)Interview/questionnaire
Frequency of drinking 100% fruit juiceInterview/questionnaire
Sources of information about dietInterview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Awareness of, attention to, beliefs about, and response to physical activity recommendationsInterview/questionnaire
Frequency and length of at least moderate-intensity physical activityInterview/questionnaire
Physical activity frequency and length that the respondent believes are necessary to remain healthyInterview/questionnaire
Sources of information about physical activityInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Sleep continuity: Sleep latencySelf report, questionnaire (by mail)
Sleep disturbances and quality: Subjective satisfactionSelf report, questionnaire (mail and web survey)
Sleep duration and quantity: Total sleep time during weekends/holidaysSelf report, questionnaire (by mail)
Sleep duration and quantity: Total sleep time during workdays/schooldaysSelf report, questionnaire (by mail)
Sleep duration and quantity: Total sleep time variabilitySelf report, questionnaire (by mail)
Social determinants of health (e.g., income, racial discrimination)Self report, questionnaire (by mail)


NameMethods of Assessment
Attempts to lose weight in the past 12 monthsInterview/questionnaire
Height and weightSelf-report
Respondent’s perception of his/her weightInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Census region, census division, metropolitan statistical areas, rural/metro designationN/A

Special Note(s)

A complete list of items related to nutrition and physical activity are available here:

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Download data from the HINTS dataset website.


Free of charge.


Geocode Variable(s)

Census region, census division, metropolitan statistical areas, rural/metro designation.

Existing Linkages

None noted.

Selected Publications

Click here for a full list of current publications.


Nelson DE, Kreps GL, Hesse BW, Croyle RT, Willis G, Arora NK, Rimer BK, Viswanath KV, Weinstein N, Alden S. The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS): Development, design, and dissemination. Journal of Health Communication 2004;9(5):443-460.


Moser, RP, Naveed, S, Cantor, D, Blake, KD, Rutten, LJF, Ramirez, AS, Liu, B, & Yu, M. Integrative analytic methods using population-level cross-sectional data. National Cancer Institute, June, 2013

Rizzo L, Moser RP, Waldron W, Wang Z, Davis WW. Analytic methods to examine changes across years using HINTS 2003 and 2005 data. National Cancer Institute, June 2008, NIH publication 08-6435.