Each MEPS-HC interview consists of sections covering specific topics.
Each section contains a series of CAPI (computer-assisted personal interview)
computer screens with questions, interviewing instructions, and skip
patterns based on the specific topics. Major changes to sections are
made by calendar year, and data released on full-year files are based
on the questions being asked during that year (regardless of panel).
In the 2020 questionnaires on the MEPS website, the specifications for
Panel 24 round 5 are incorrect. Panel 24 round 5 spans 2020 and 2021.
That is, the questionnaires say round 5 ended 12/31, but instead it
generally ended in 2021.
For more information on the Household Component questionnaire sections, go
to Summary of HC Questionnaire Sections
and MEPS-HC Panel Design and Data Collection
The F1 Help Text Key is the collection of terms used during the course of the MEPS-HC CAPI. MEPS interviewers use this
help text to define terms or to clarify certain parts of a question for household members while administering the
interview. These terms and their definitions are accessible to the interviewer via the F1 function key. To access terms
used in data year 2021, please refer to the 2021 Help Text Groupings or 2021 Help Text.
The 2021 Help Text Groupings file contains a list of each help tag, the associated item number, item tag, and question
name. It is sorted by Help Tag so that multiple items using that same help text are displayed together. The Item Tag is
the item number referenced in the individual CAPI questionnaire sections. The 2021 Help Text file contains the content
of the help text available and is sorted by the Help Tag.
MEPS-HC is a panel survey conducted over five rounds of data collection periods. Not all of the questionnaire sections are included in each round; some are periodically rotated in and out
of the survey.
For each interview, the questionnaire flow varies slightly. Go to
Questionnaire context/flow for
the context/flow detailed specifications for each panel, information
on the specific order in which sections were asked during each interview,
and for an example of how to reconstruct the structure of an
interview for a particular panel and round.
MEPS periodically administers paper
questionnaires to supplement the data collected by interviewers. These
questionnaires are available in both English and Spanish and include the
The Social and Health Experiences Self-Administered Questionnaire was administered to adults in Spring 2021.
The MEPS-HC regularly asks about many individual or family characteristics considered to be or correlated with
social or behavioral determinants of health including race/ethnicity, education level, poverty, employment, health
and smoking status. This supplement asked questions about social and behavioral factors that have not been asked about
in MEPS before. The topics included measures of general life satisfaction, housing quality, neighborhood
characteristics, measures of financial strain, stress, food security, physical activity, transportation issues, measures
of social connectedness, measures of loneliness, experiences of discrimination, experiences of physical and social
violence, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). See Social and Health Experiences Sources for
a list of sources used for question wording. The supplement was fielded in English and Spanish using a multimode (web,
A Survey about Understanding Veterans' Health Care Needs: Veterans Self-Administered Survey (VSAQ).
VSAQ is a self-administered paper-and-pencil questionnaire fielded in 2018. VSAQ asks questions about
highly prevalent medical conditions among Veterans such as PTSD and COPD. Sampled Veterans are asked
about medical services used by Veterans such as: prosthesis, rehabilitation services, individual and
group mental health care, caregiver support and assistive mobility devices. Questions are also asked
about Veterans' perception of care received in and outside the VA including care received from primary
doctors as well as specialists.
The Adult Self-Administered Questionnaire (SAQ) collects a variety of health status and
health care quality measures of adults age 18 and older. The SAQ contains three measures of health
status: the Veteran's RAND 12-item (VR-12) (in 2017 this replaces the Short-Form 12 Version 2
(SF-12v2®), the Kessler Index (K6) of non-specific psychological distress, and the Patient
Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2). The health care quality measures in the SAQ were taken from the health
plan version of CAHPS®, an AHRQ-sponsored family of survey instruments designed to measure quality
of care from the consumer's perspective.
The 2000 Parent Administered Questionnaire (PAQ). The PAQ
is a self-administered and mail-back questionnaire administered to
parents of children under 18 years of age. The PAQ was fielded only
in 2000, during Round 4 of Panel 4 and Round 2 of Panel 5 and included
questions from the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®)
and the Living with Illness Measure (LWIM). In 2001, the content of
this PAQ was added as the Child Preventive Health section of the CAPI
A Survey About Your Diabetes Care: The Diabetes Care Survey (DCS). The DCS is a
self-administered paper-and-pencil questionnaire first fielded in 2000. Households receive
a DCS based on their response to a question in the Priority Condition section of the CAPI
instrument, which asks whether or not the respondent was ever told by a doctor or health
professional that he/she had diabetes.
The Cancer Self-Administered Questionnaire (CSAQ) was fielded in 2011, 2016
and 2017. AHRQ in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute fielded a self-administered
questionnaire for current cancer patients and cancer survivors identified in the Medical
Expenditure Panel Survey. The Cancer SAQ asked adult respondents questions about the burden
of cancer, medical care for cancer, long lasting effects of the disease, financial impact,
and employment outcomes for cancer survivors and their families.
The Preventive Care Self-Administered Questionnaire (PSAQ). This PSAQ is a
paper-and-pencil questionnaire first fielded during Panel 18 Round 5 of the 2014 Medical
Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The survey was designed to collect a variety of person-level
preventive health care data for adults. A subset of adults age 35 and older as of the Round 5
interview date in MEPS households were asked to complete the PSAQ. The questionnaires were
administered in early 2015. Beginning in 2018, the PSAQ was modified to include a subset of
the original preventive care items as well as items from the Adult SAQ. It is distributed
to all eligible adults 18 years and older every other year during the fall rounds (Rounds
2 and 4). There are separate versions of the PSAQ for males and females to account for
certain preventive care questions. In 2020, the PSAQ was further modified to include
supplemental items on alcohol and drug use, as well as items on mental health counseling
and treatment. These supplemental items were the same for males and females.
HC Interview Showcards
During the household interview, the showcards assist MEPS respondents by providing them with
paper versions of definitions or response categories that pertain to specific questionnaire
items throughout the computer-assisted personal interview, or CAPI.
Medical Provider Component (MPC) Questionnaires
MEPS also includes a Medical Provider Component (MPC) that requests data from hospitals,
physicians, home health care providers, and pharmacies identified by MEPS-HC respondents.
Its purpose is to supplement and/or replace information received from the MEPS-HC respondents about
the health care that was provided to sampled household members in the course of the survey year.
The MPC Questionnaires are designed to obtain information on both the medical and financial characteristics
of medical events. Beginning in 2009, the paper-based system for collecting data was replaced with a
computer-based Integrated Data Collection System (IDCS) that allows for data collection specialists
to gather data through either telephone or through hardcopy record abstraction directly into one
central database. The most current data years of the MPC questionnaires are available below.
MPC Questionnaires from previous data years are available upon request to the MEPS project director
MPC Contact Guides
Beginning in 2019, AHRQ consolidated the individual MPC Contact Guides for each provider type into one
cohesive file for all providers.
The MPC Contact Guides for hospitals, physicians, home health care providers, and pharmacies each contain
a script that guides the data collection specialist through an explanation of the MEPS MPC, its purpose,
and the data we would like to collect. The guide also obtains contact information for data collection itself
after patient authorization forms have been sent to the provider. The most current data year of the contact
guides are available below. Contact guides from previous data years are available upon request to the MEPS
project director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MPC Authorization Forms
The MPC Authorization Forms, signed by patients interviewed by MEPS, permit the Medical
Provider Component staff to contact medical providers and pharmacies and authorize
providers to release medical information about their patients. The most
current data years of the authorization forms are available below. Please note
that the Spanish authorization forms are for Spanish-speaking respondents to read;
they sign the English forms.
Forms from previous data years are available upon request to the MEPS
project director at email@example.com.