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How often get emotional support

Codes and Frequencies

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EMOSUPPORT reports responses by sample adults only in 2001 and 2020, sample adults and sample children 12-17 in 2021, and sample children 12-17 only in 2022 to the question, "How often do you get the social and emotional support you need? Would you say always, usually, sometimes, rarely, or never?" In 2020, EMOSUPPORT is only asked of sample adults in quarters 3 and 4.

2001 Related Variables 

The question for EMOSUPPORT is one of a series included in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) as part of the Healthy People 2010 initiative. One goal of this initiative is to "promote the health of people with disabilities, prevent secondary conditions, and eliminate disparities between people with and without disabilities in the U.S. population." More specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2010, V. II, Objectives for Improving Health, articulated the following goal: "Increase the proportion of adults with disabilities reporting sufficient emotional support" (i.e., to achieve parity with adults without disabilities). In this context, a response of "always" or "usually" in EMOSUPPORT was considered evidence of "sufficient social support." (See U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Tracking Healthy People 2010. Part B: Operational Definitions #6.)

Other variables used to track different aspects of social support for the Healthy People 2010 initiative and included in the 2001 NHIS are:

  • How often felt happy, past 30 days (HAPPY30)
  • Got together socially with friends or neighbors, past 2 weeks (SAWFRIEND
  • Talked with friends or neighbors on the telephone, past 2 weeks (CALLFRIEND)
  • Got together with any relatives with whom they did not live, past 2 weeks (SAWRELS)
  • Talked on the telephone with any relatives with whom they did not live, past 2 weeks (CALLRELS)
  • Went to church, temple, or another place of worship for services or other activities, past 2 weeks (WORSHIP)
  • Went to a show, movie, sports event, club meeting, class or other group event, past 2 weeks (GROUPEVENT)
  • Went out to eat at a restaurant, past 2 weeks (ATEOUT)

2020-2022 Related Variables 

NCHS added nearly 30 questions related to COVID starting in quarter 3 of the 2020 NHIS questionnaire, eight of which are asked of both sample adults and sample children. In addition to EMOSUPPORT, CMPSUPPORT is also asked to ascertain how much social and emotional support the person received in comparison to 12 months prior (pre-pandemic). Beginning in 2021, SUPPORTCOMM is asked of sample children ages 12-17 to determine whether they are receiving support from others in their community. For the full list of variables, as well as information about COVID-related changes to the NHIS, please see the user note.


Aside from differences from the 2019 redesign, this variable is completely comparable over time.

The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 2001: Sample adults age 18+.
  • 2020: Sample adults age 18+ interviewed in quarter 3 or quarter 4.
  • 2021: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children 12-17
  • 2022: Sample children 12-17.


  • 2001, 2020-2022