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For sample adults, SATISFIED reports responses to the question, "In general, how satisfied are you with your life? Would you say very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?"

SATISFIED was first introduced in 2001 as part of a series of questions designed to measure progress towards 2010 Healthy People goals (for more information, see section on "Definition of Satisfaction with Life" below). It was asked again on the 2021 NHIS questionnaire as part of a two item series sponsored by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/NCCDPHP) and the Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health (NIH/ODP).

Definition of Satisfaction with Life

The question for SATISFIED 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, 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 satisfaction with life" (i.e., to achieve parity with adults without disabilities).

Healthy People 2010, V. I, Disability and Secondary Conditions elaborates on the meaning of "satisfaction with life" as follows:

Satisfaction with life is associated with the more general term 'quality of life,' which is a personal evaluation of one's own position in numerous dimensions of life, including physical, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental support, and level of independence. Monitoring the life satisfaction of people with disabilities, as well as that of the broader population, allows an opportunity to evaluate society's progress in accommodating the needs of people with disabilities.


Similar to the life satisfaction measure included in the 2001 NHIS, measures of life satisfaction are included in the 2021 NHIS as a means of estimating and tracking progress towards the Healthy People 2030 goal of increasing general adult well-being, and life satisfaction as an important component of general well-being, in the US population. On p. 83, the 2021 NHIS Survey Description states:

Life satisfaction is an aspect of general well-being that represents people’s subjective assessments of their lives overall and reflects factors such as health, work, and income, among others (OECD, 2013). The American Psychological Association defines life satisfaction as “the extent to which a person finds life rich, meaningful, full, or of high quality” (APA, 2022). Measures of life satisfaction, including the items used in NHIS, have been shown to be valid and reliable (Cheung and Lucas, 2014; OECD, 2013). Life satisfaction will be used as a Healthy People 2030 Overall Health and Well-being Measure to estimate and track adult well-being at the national level (Ochiai et al., 2021)

Related Variables and More Information
Information and other related variables available in 2021 

In addition to SATISFIED, a second quality of life variable (SATSCORE) was included in the 2021 survey. SATSCORE asks respondents to quantify their quality of life on a scale from 0 ("very dissatisfied") to 10 ("very satisfied"). Both questions were fielded intentionally for methodological reasons; analysts will compare respondents' answers against each other to determine how the categorical responses align with the numeric score on the 11-point scale.

In the first quarter of 2021, SATSCORE was asked near the beginning of the survey (section LS1) and SATISFIED near the end (LS2). In the second quarter, an experiment was introduced to randomly rotate the order of the two questions in the Sample Adult survey. The variable SATFLAG records which question was asked first in each interview. Users should note that both SATISFIED and SATSCORE reflect the combined responses for all four quarters of 2021, regardless of the order of each question across the LS1 and LS2 sections. As a result, the number of "not ascertained" responses (code 8) may appear inflated due to drop-offs when each variable was asked in the LS2 section.

Other related variables that track emotional and social support in the 2021-2022 NHIS:

  • CMPSUPPORT: Amount of emotional support compared with 12 months ago (sample adult only)
  • SUPPORTCOMM: Have an adult that makes a positive or meaningful difference in life (sample child only)
  • SATISFIEDSCALE: Life satisfaction using numerical scale (sample child only)

Information and other related variables available in 2001 

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

  • 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)


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. Otherwise, this variable is comparable over time.


  • 2001; 2021-2022: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 2001, 2021-2022