Health Information National Trends Survey



The Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) is a federally conducted survey that collects and interprets data on the public's use of cancer-related information. The survey is national in scope and holds such responsibilities such as reporting on changing patterns and information opportunities in health, assessing cancer information access and usage, providing information about the general perception of cancer risks, identifying new communications trends, and acting as a grounds for researchers to test theories in health communication. ("About HINTS").

The data that HINTS collects are available to the public. They are used mostly for research purposes, mainly to determine how American adults use various communication mediums to get health related information. The data are useful in finding ways to diminish the problems associated with access to health information in various populations. Also, scientists make use of HINTS's data to aid their theories of health communication and to come up with better ways for lessening the burden of cancer on the population ("About HINTS").


Findings on Personal Health Records

In 2007, HINTS conducted one of its national trends surveys, the third installment of surveys it had done by that time (Wen, Kreps, Zhu & Miller, 2010). Part of this survey dealt with consumers' appraisal of Personal Health Records (PHR's), their use of them via the internet, and their attitudes about health care providers' use of Health Information Exchange (HIE) (Wen et al. 2010). The data collected by HINTS about those topics were later analyzed by a group of researchers. They were able to determine from the HINTS data that the majority of Americans perceive PHR's and HIE to be highly important to them. They also discovered, however, that, despite such a positive perception of PHR's and HIE, PHR use among the internet was rather low (Wen et al. 2010). This lack of electronically accessing PHR's by the public was found to be predictable by certain stratification's including age, race, internet access, and perceived deficits in information comprehended by health care providers (Wen et al. 2010).

Cancer Screening Rates in Women

Using the HINTS 2003 survey, researchers were able to make key findings in regards to gender-specific cancer screening rates in women ages 65 and older. Their analysis concluded that women ages 75 and older were less likely to have a mammography than women ages 65-74. They also determined that Hispanic women and women of low income households in the 65 and older age range had significantly lower rates of these screenings than non-Hispanic white women and women of higher household income(Coughlin, Berkowitz, Hawkins & Tangka, 2007).

Related Terminology

  • Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch
  • Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences


"About HINTS." hints: Health Information National Trends Survey. National Cancer Institute, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2012.

Coughlin, S., Berkowitz, Z., Hawkins, N., & Tangka, F. (2007). Breast and colorectal cancer screening and sources of cancer information among older women in the united states: Results from the 2003 health information national trends survey. Preventing Chronic Disease, 4(3), 1.

Wen, K. Y., Kreps, G., Zhu, F., & Miller, S. (2010). Consumers' perceptions about and use of the internet for personal health records and health information exchange: Analysis of the 2007 health information national trends survey. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12(4), e73. doi:10.2196/jmir.1668