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Collecting information for a healthier America

News & Publications

April 22, 2024

AFHS PI Brady West recently completed an interview with SAGE Research Methods, talking about the design of the AFHS and why it is so important for future data collections like it. Click here to watch the interview in its entirety.

November 2, 2023

Public-use versions of the AFHS data are now available! Please visit our Data Sets and Documentation page for details.

April 10, 2023

Researchers from the AFHS and their colleagues will be presenting substantive findings from the AFHS at this week’s annual conference of the Population Association of America. AFHS PI Brady West will be talking about forced intercourse in America, presenting information collected in the AFHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Laura Lindberg will be talking about changes in contraceptive use during the pandemic, also leveraging AFHS data. Please reach out with any questions about these presentations!

December 20, 2022

Happy Holidays! AFHS data are now being used to study national trends in forced intercourse and general descriptions of fertility, health, and sexual behavior in the U.S. population aged 18-49 between 2020-2022. The plots below, extracted from the second paper in this list, present comparisons of estimates from the 2017-2019 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and the 2020-2022 AFHS, showing similarity in many estimates but also some interesting changes (e.g., in self-reported health of males and females) during the pandemic.


Estimated Proportions for Males
Estimates of selected proportions for males, in addition to 95% CIs


Estimates of Selected Means for Males
Estimates of Selected Means for Males



Estimates of Selected Proportions for Females
Estimates of Selected Proportions for Females, with 95% CIs


Estimates of Selected Means for Females
Estimates of Selected Means for Females


All of the papers mentioned have been submitted for peer review. Recent methodological papers based on the AFHS (click here and here for papers that have been accepted for publication and are currently in press) have also made significant contributions to our understanding of efficient approaches for collecting health information via the web from a national sample. A third paper here is currently under review.

Finally, thanks to everyone who participated in our follow-up study. Based on what we learned from that study, we hope to soon build a panel of AFHS participants who will be invited to complete monthly surveys about their reproductive health and family dynamics.

In the new year, we hope to release an initial version of the public-use AFHS data and corresponding data user documentation via ICPSR. Please stay tuned for details about data availability!

May 2, 2022

We have now completed data collection for the American Family Health Study (AFHS)! In the end, nearly 2,400 individuals participated in this study, and we are truly grateful for the contributions of each and every one of them.

We are now in the process of analyzing all of the data that we have collected and preparing reports describing the results. Next week, we will be presenting an overview of the initial results at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. You can find a link to our slides here.

Furthermore, we have submitted a paper describing contributions of the AFHS to a study of trends in fertility and contraceptive use behaviors before and during the pandemic for publication in the journal Population and Development Review. You can find a link to a draft of that paper here.

Stay tuned for additional reports and abstracts. In addition, we will be reaching out to selected AFHS participants with a brief follow-up study request in the near future! Thanks again to everyone, and we look forward to learning from your data.

January 10, 2022

Happy New Year! AFHS data collection continues for our second national sample replicate. We extend a hearty thanks to all of our study participants to date!

We continue to produce estimates that paint a picture of the family planning and fertility behaviors of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can follow this link (Pandemic Babies Slides 12.12.21) to see our team’s presentation slides from the recent virtual Pandemic Babies conference. In this presentation, we use data from the first national sample replicate of AFHS to examine trends in U.S. fertility behaviors, including births and pregnancies, sexual activity, contraceptive use, and pregnancy intentions. We also present models of fertility intentions among women between the ages of 18 and 28. All AFHS estimates are compared with estimates in prior years from the NSFG and the PSID. We would welcome feedback!

You can also view our recent presentation (west_etal_2021_mapor_FINAL) at the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research annual conference on new data collection methodologies for strictly web/mail surveys like the AFHS. A paper describing these new methodologies is currently being revised for publication.

Finally, our work evaluating the use of an online event history calendar to study contraceptive use is also now available in Field Methods.

September 10, 2021

We have completed data collection for our first national sample replicate, and we are starting to produce estimates that paint a picture of the family planning and fertility behaviors of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AFHS team recently had an abstract accepted to the upcoming Pandemic Babies conference in Berlin, Germany in December, where we will be discussing the interesting finding based on analyses of data from the AFHS, the NSFG, and the PSID that pregnancies and childbirth have continued to trend downward in the U.S. among individuals 18-28 years old during the pandemic. We also find that predictors of fertility behavior and pregnancy status have generally remained robust during the pandemic, which means that changes in these predictors due to the pandemic could be impacting fertility outcomes. Finally, we note that differences between subgroups defined by race/ethnicity in these outcomes have changed somewhat during the pandemic, possibly indicating different effects of the pandemic on these different subgroups. The AFHS team will also be presenting methodological findings from our first national sample replicate at the upcoming MAPOR annual conference in November.

Our second national replicate will be released soon: stay tuned, because you might be selected!

February 26, 2021

We are approaching 1,000 AFHS respondents in our first sample replicate! Thank you again to all of our study participants thus far. Your survey responses have been invaluable, and they will soon be used to paint an important picture of where the U.S. population stands in terms of the various questions that you answered. As always, please email [email protected] if you have any questions about study participation.

We have another new article that has been accepted in Field Methods that discusses the best methods for measuring sexual identity in national surveys like AFHS, and this study actually informed the types of questions that were asked in our survey. Stay tuned for this article, which demonstrates that forcing people to choose from a small number of response options in questions about sexual identity can have a negative effect on estimated associations between sexual identity and substance use behaviors.

January 6, 2021

Our first paper, evaluating a pilot study of the web-based contraceptive use history calendar in the AFHS, has been accepted for publication in Field Methods! You can find the in-press version of the accepted paper here. We hope that our participants are continuing to find this data collection tool easy to use. Data collection continues for the first sample replicate of AFHS.

November 4, 2020

Many thanks to all of our study participants thus far! We are truly grateful for all of our respondents, especially given our difficult situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Please email [email protected] if any issues arise.

The AFHS study team will presenting a talk at the upcoming virtual annual conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, where we will be discussing the use of the event history calendar in the web version of the AFHS survey that is used to measure contraceptive use behaviors in the past 24 months. We hope that our respondents have found this calendar easy to use!

March 12, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we wanted to clarify for our participants and respondents that AFHS support staff may not be able to answer phone calls on certain days. A recording on the phone will provide additional information if staff are unavailable. Contacting us via email ([email protected]) with questions should result in a quicker response, but responses may still be delayed depending on the work schedules and availability of our staff. This is clearly a fluid situation, and we will continue to post updates. Please stay safe and practice healthy behaviors.

September 17th, 2019

Researchers recently analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth, and unfortunately found that for 1 in 16 women in the U.S., their first experience with sexual intercourse was rape. Here is the story about this important public health problem that made national news.

Here is a recent report about the age of onset of sexual activity among boys living in metropolitan areas that uses data from the National Survey of Family Growth.

AFHS research team members Axinn and West recently published a new article in Social Science Research comparing the lifetime prevalence of forced intercourse between persons with a college education and persons without.