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Health Information National Trends Survey
Part of NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

HINTS Briefs

HINTS Briefs provide a snapshot of noteworthy, data-driven research findings. They introduce population-level estimates for specific questions in the survey and summarize significant research findings that are a result of analyzing how certain demographic characteristics influence specific outcomes. Many Briefs summarize research findings from recent peer-reviewed journal articles using HINTS data.

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English Briefs

HINTS Brief 37: Beliefs About Nicotine and Low Nicotine Cigarettes Among US Adults Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 37 In this HINTS Brief, we examine beliefs about nicotine and cigarettes advertised as “low nicotine” among U.S. adults.
October 2018
HINTS Brief 36: How Americans View the Accuracy and Value of Cancer Screening Tests Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 36 In this HINTS Brief, we examine the public’s belief of the associated benefits and risks of cancer screening.
September 2018
HINTS Brief 35: Lost in Transition? Cancer Survivorship and Patient-Centered Communication Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 35 In this HINTS Brief, we examine the extent to which cancer survivors perceive their providers to be engaging in the six functions of patient-centered communication.
March 2018
Brief 34: Calorie Labels on Restaurant Menus: Who Uses Them and Do They Find Them Helpful? Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 34 In this HINTS Brief, we examine how Americans use calorie information in restaurants and whether they find it helpful.
October 2017
Brief 33: Patient-provider Discussion About Lung Cancer Screening Remain Infrequent Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 33 In this HINTS Brief, we examine the prevalence of lung cancer screening discussions between health care providers and current or former smokers who are at high risk for developing lung cancer.
June 2017
Brief 32: Men Not Adequately Involved in Discussions About Prostate Cancer Screening Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 32 Despite recommendations from many professional organizations, doctors are not giving patients key information about prostate cancer screening. In this HINTS Brief, we examine whether men ages 50–74 with no prior history of prostate cancer are receiving the information they need about prostate cancer screening to make informed decisions.
September 2016
Brief 31: Patients Who Receive a Treatment Summary Post-Cancer Report Better Quality of Care and Communication With Providers Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 31 For millions of cancer survivors, post-cancer care—also called survivorship care—is a crucial part of their continued physical and psychological well-being. In this HINTS Brief, we examine whether receiving a survivorship care plan or treatment summary influenced patients’ perceived quality of care and satisfaction with patient-provider communication.
April 2016
Brief 30: Cancer-related Information Seeking among Cancer Survivors Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 30 Cancer survivors may face physical, emotional, social, and financial challenges as a result of their diagnosis and treatment. Many people seek information from a variety of sources to cope with this “new normal.” In this HINTS Brief, we examine a decade of national trends in cancer-related information seeking among cancer survivors.
December 2015
Brief 29: Health Information Seeking on Behalf of Others: Characteristics of “Surrogate Seekers” Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 29 When it comes to searching for health information, there are “self seekers” – those who go online to find health information for themselves, and there are “surrogate seekers” – those who go online to look for information for others. People who engage in online health information seeking often fall into both categories. In this HINTS Brief, we identify unique demographic characteristics of surrogate seekers, and describe their satisfaction with the search process.
September 2015
Brief 28: Awareness of Electronic Cigarettes and Perceptions of Harmfulness Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 28 In 2012, HINTS began collecting data on the public’s awareness of e-cigarettes and perceptions of harmfulness. Since then, awareness of e-cigarettes has grown. Using HINTS data, the proportion of U.S. adults reporting they had never heard of e-cigarettes dropped from 22.3% in 2012 to 13.6% in 2013. In this HINTS Brief, we explore e-cigarette awareness, use, and perceived harmfulness and suggest strategies for provider-patient discussions and health communication interventions.
February 2015
Brief 27: Developing an Electronic Health Information System for High-Quality Cancer Care Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 27 Hospital and health care providers’ adoption and use of electronic health record systems have grown dramatically since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health was passed in 2009 to encourage the proliferation of these systems to enhance health communication and health care delivery. In this HINTS Brief, we describe the publics’ perceptions about the security and privacy of their electronic health information.
November 2014
Brief 26: Preventing Cancer through Increased Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Uptake Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 26 In this HINTS Brief, we discuss the HPV vaccine that became available in 2006, awareness of HPV has increased significantly, but remains lower than desired. In 2013, equal proportions (68 percent) of the general adult population reported having heard of HPV and the HPV vaccine. Prior to the vaccine’s release, only 38 percent of women were familiar with HPV, and awareness among all adults was likely lower.
May 2014
Brief 25: Picking up the Pace Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 25 Health information seeking and health communication have a significant effect on individuals’ health decisions, health-related behavior, and health outcomes. Data from HINTS have been critical in documenting and tracking these associations and trends in the U.S. population.  To address emerging issues in the field of health communication more quickly while still maintaining the ongoing measurement of trends, HINTS 4 will include five data collection cycles over the course of 3 years. In this HINTS Brief, we discuss the HINTS 4 data collection cycles and the special topic modules that will field only in some cycles.
September 2013
Brief 24: Public Awareness of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 24 Many genetic tests are marketed directly to consumers through paid advertisements on television, radio, or the Internet. These direct-to-consumer genetic tests have become widely available, allowing consumers to purchase a range of genetic tests, often without the involvement of a health care professional. In this HINTS Brief, we explore national trends over time in public awareness of direct-to-consumer genetic tests.
May 2013
Brief 23: Health Information Technology and Meaningful Use Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 23 Policy and practice related to health information technology (HIT) is rapidly changing. Implementation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 has stimulated health care providers to adopt “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs). The meaningful use criteria are intended to increase health care provider use of—and patient access to—electronic health information. In this HINTS Brief, we present perspectives on HIT among both the general public and people affected by cancer.
February 2013
Brief 22: Trust and Use of Media for Health Information among U.S. Hispanics Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 22 It has been well documented that some population segments—particularly those with lower socioeconomic status—experience knowledge gaps related to their health and their health care and often have difficulty accessing and using information that could help to reduce and prevent an unequal burden of disease. This may be especially relevant for Hispanic populations living in the United States because of well-established language, cultural, and media use challenges.
July 2012
Brief 21: Health Behaviors in Cancer Survivors Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 21 Significant progress in cancer diagnosis and treatment since the 1950s has led to a growing population of cancer survivors.
March 2012
Brief 20: Awareness of Clinical Trials and Attitudes About the Use of Personal Medical Information for Research Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 20 Clinical trials, which are health-related or biomedical research studies, are conducted to develop or test new medical treatments and medications. Clinical trials may benefit individual volunteers by providing access to new treatments before they are available outside of trials. Clinical trials also serve the overall population by evaluating the safety and efficacy of medical treatments, which may lead to improved treatment options in the future. In addition to research that involves direct treatment of patients in a clinical setting, other medical research involves the analysis of existing medical records and clinical data to assess the effectiveness of various treatment methods and patient care approaches.
October 2011
Brief 19: U.S. Social Media Use and Health Communication Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 19 Surveys routinely find that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults use the Internet, and about 60 percent of those online say they use the Internet to look for health or medical information. Although studies continue to show that ethnic minorities and those who are older, less educated, and less healthy are more likely to be non-Internet users, a more nuanced picture of this “digital divide” is beginning to emerge, particularly with the advent of social media and mobile technologies.
August 2011
Brief 18: Implementation of HINTS in Puerto Rico Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 18 In 2009, a demonstration project was conducted in Puerto Rico using existing Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) infrastructure to assess the feasibility of adapting the national HINTS survey to a local setting to facilitate local data collection and cancer control planning.
April 2011
Brief 17: Smokers' Attitudes Toward Potential "Reduced-Exposure" Tobacco Products (PREPs) Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 17 The tobacco industry has in recent years introduced a proliferation of potential reduced-exposure tobacco products (PREPs), marketing such products as alternatives to conventional cigarettes and sometimes claiming they are less harmful or less addictive.
November 2010
Brief 16: Trends in Cancer Information Seeking Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 16 The past few decades have witnessed dramatic changes in the health communication and informatics environment.
August 2010
Brief 15: Organizations Collaborate to Focus on Prevention Messages Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 15 When it comes to cancer prevention, more information does not necessarily mean greater clarity. Organizations collaborate to focus on prevention messages.
May 2010
Brief 14: Social Context Influences Interpersonal Health Communication Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 14 Studies have shown that a person’s social context can affect health communication access and usage, which, in turn, can affect health behaviors and outcomes, such as smoking, cancer screening, and disease.
November 2009
Brief 13: Americans Often Misunderstand the Extent to Which Colon, Skin, and Lung Cancers are Treatable and Beatable Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 13 "State-of-the-science" evidence in cancer refers to consensus among researchers and specialists regarding the most effective ways to prevent, screen for, and treat the disease, as well as rates of survival among those diagnosed.
August 2009
Brief 12: Hispanics Less Likely to Seek Cancer Information than Non-Hispanics Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 12 Differences in cancer information seeking and information access have the potential to shape health knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and medical decisions, and may contribute to disparities in health outcomes among disadvantaged populations.
January 2009
Brief 11: Knowledge of Tobacco-Related Cancers: Understanding the association of tobacco consumption and perceived cancer risk Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 11 Over the past several decades, significant progress has been made in reducing overall smoking rates and tobacco-related diseases. Despite these successes, there remain demographic and geographic disparities in smoking prevalence, tobacco-related health outcomes, and knowledge about lung cancer risk factors and mortality.
October 2008
Brief 10: Information Support for Cancer Survivors: Cancer information seeking behaviors Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 10 Many people who have been touched by cancer actively use available resources (e.g., the Internet, health care providers, newspapers, brochures, and magazines) to seek information about the disease.
June 2008
Brief 9: Confusion about Cancer Prevention: Association with behavior Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 9 Because many cancers can be prevented through individual action and lifestyle (e.g., not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and wearing sunscreen), public understanding of cancer prevention is critical to cancer control.
January 2008
Brief 8: On-line Communication with Health Care Providers: eHealth behaviors and trends Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 8 An emerging concept known as "eHealth" seeks to capitalize on the promise of new media technologies to facilitate equal access to timely and credible health information.
November 2007
Brief 7: Health Communication: Considerations for Developing Effective Health Communication Strategies Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 7 Effective health communication strategies are increasingly recognized as integral to improving population health.
August 2007
Brief 6: Sun Safety: Perceptions and Awareness Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 6 Only a minority of Americans regularly practice sun safety
May 2007
Brief 5: Knowledge and Awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 5 In 2005, 61 percent of American women had never heard of HPV.
March 2007
Brief 4: Physical Activity: Cancer Risk Perceptions and Group Differences in Behavior Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 4 The majority of Americans believes that physical activity plays a role in preventing cancer
December 2006
Brief 3: Cancer Screening: Breast, cervix, and colorectal Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 3 Most Americans Are Aware of Cancer Screening Tests. Knowing age and frequency recommendations remains a challenge.
August 2006
Brief 2: Cancer Knowledge: Understanding Cancer Risk and Reducing Cancer Risk Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 2 More than 64% of Americans believe that lifestyle and behavior influence cancer risk.
March 2006
Brief 1: Cancer Information Seeking Behaviors Download Brief in PDF Format
Cover image of Brief 1 Almost half of all Americans have sought out information on the disease and its causes, prevention, and treatment.
December 2005

HINTS Data Terms of Use

It is of utmost importance to ensure the confidentiality of survey participants. Every effort has been made to exclude identifying information on individual respondents from the computer files. Some demographic information such as sex, race, etc., has been included for research purposes. NCI expects that users of the data set will adhere to the strictest standards of ethical conduct for the analysis and reporting of nationally collected survey data. It is mandatory that all research results be presented/published in a manner that protects the integrity of the data and ensures the confidentiality of participants.

In order for the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) to provide a public-use or another version of data to you, it is necessary that you agree to the following provisions.

  1. You will not present/publish data in which an individual can be identified. Publication of small cell sizes should be avoided.
  2. You will not attempt to link nor permit others to link the data with individually identified records in another database.
  3. You will not attempt to learn the identity of any person whose data are contained in the supplied file(s).
  4. If the identity of any person is discovered inadvertently, then the following should be done;
    1. no use will be made of this knowledge,
    2. the HINTS Program staff will be notified of the incident,
    3. no one else will be informed of the discovered identity.
  5. You will not release nor permit others to release the data in full or in part to any person except with the written approval of the HINTS Program staff.
  6. If accessing the data from a centralized location on a time sharing computer system or LAN, you will not share your logon name and password with any other individuals. You will also not allow any other individuals to use your computer account after you have logged on with your logon name and password.
  7. For all software provided by the HINTS Program, you will not copy, distribute, reverse engineer, profit from its sale or use, or incorporate it in any other software system.
  8. The source of information should be cited in all publications. The appropriate citation is associated with the data file used. Please see Suggested Citations in the Download HINTS Data section of this Web site, or the Readme.txt associated with the ASCII text version of the HINTS data.
  9. Analyses of large HINTS domains usually produce reliable estimates, but analyses of small domains may yield unreliable estimates, as indicated by their large variances. The analyst should pay particular attention to the standard error and coefficient of variation (relative standard error) for estimates of means, proportions, and totals, and the analyst should report these when writing up results. It is important that the analyst realizes that small sample sizes for particular analyses will tend to result in unstable estimates.
  10. You may receive periodic e-mail updates from the HINTS administrators.