Content differences over the cycles
The CCHS is a cross-sectional survey that collects information related to health status, health care utilization and health determinants for the Canadian population. In addition to sociodemographic and administrative data, the CCHS includes four content components, each of which addresses a different need: the Core, Theme, Optional, and Rapid Response. The CCHS core content component includes questions asked of respondents in all provinces and territories (unless otherwise specified). The theme content is asked of all survey respondents and comprises modules, or in some cases groups of questions within modules, that are related to a specific topic. There are two types of theme collected annually: two-year theme modules which are asked over a period of two years and one-year theme modules that are asked over a one year period. Themes are reintroduced in the survey every two, four or six years, if required. This component enables CCHS to better plan its content in the medium term. The optional content component is designed to give provinces and territories the opportunity to select content that addresses their own public health priorities. The rapid response component is offered on a cost-recovery basis to organizations interested in obtaining national estimates on an emerging or specific topic related to the health of the population.
Researchers should be aware that optional modules are not available for each CCHS cycle and are only selected by some provinces and territories. To obtain a copy of the provincial and territorial selection of the Canadian Community Health Survey – Annual Component, contact Client Services (613-951-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
2015 Redesign of the Canadian Community Health Survey – Annual Component
In an ongoing effort to ensure data produced from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Annual Component remains relevant, is of the highest quality and is collected as effectively and efficiently as possible, major redesigns for the survey are planned every 6 to 8 years. In 2012, work began on the second major redesign (the first being in 2007) for the 2015 cycle of the CCHS. Part of this work included consultations held with federal, provincial and territorial share partners, health region authorities and academics. This resulted in major changes for the 2015 CCHS including changes to content, methodology and collection strategies. The first release of redesigned CCHS annual data was in March, 2017.
Impacts on the User - Comparability between past cycles and the 2015 redesign:
A major redesign is an opportunity to make significant changes to improve a survey. Changes to the 2015 CCHS include the use of higher quality frames, the adoption of more efficient collection and sample allocation strategies and updated and modernised content. These changes will help the survey produce higher quality data while making the survey more efficient, however these changes impact the analytical use of previous CCHS data sets.
As a result of the changes from the 2015 CCHS redesign, combining cycles of CCHS data from before and after the redesign (e.g., combining 2014 and 2015 annual files) is not recommended, and caution should be taken when comparing estimates across those years. Even estimates derived from content that has remained unchanged, are subject to the potential impacts of the other major changes to the survey (i.e. new survey frames and collection methods) and may not necessarily be comparable with past cycles. It would be very difficult to ascertain whether any changes or consistencies between estimates pre and post redesign are a reflection of the true population characteristic being examined, or the effect of the significant methodological and operational changes made to the survey.