DHS Overview

Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) are nationally-representative household surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of population, health, and nutrition.

DHS Survey Types

There are two types of DHS surveys:

  • Standard DHS Surveys have large sample sizes (usually between 5,000 and 30,000 households) and typically are conducted about every 5 years, to allow comparisons over time.
  • Interim DHS Surveys focus on the collection of information on key performance monitoring indicators but may not include data for all impact evaluation measures (such as mortality rates). These surveys are conducted between rounds of DHS surveys and have shorter questionnaires than DHS surveys. Although nationally representative, these surveys generally have smaller samples than DHS surveys.

DHS Survey Topics

Information is available for the following topics, among others:

  • Anemia - prevalence of anemia, iron supplementation
  • Child Health - vaccinations, childhood illness, newborn care
  • Domestic Violence (module) - prevalence of domestic violence and consequences of violence
  • Education - literacy, attendance, highest level achieved
  • Environmental Health - water, sanitation, cooking fuel
  • Family Planning - knowledge and use of contraceptives
  • Female Genital Cutting (module) - prevalence of and attitudes about female genital cutting
  • Fertility and Fertility Preferences - total fertility rate, desired family size, marriage and sexual activity
  • Gender/Domestic Violence - history of domestic violence, frequency and consequences of violence
  • HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior - knowledge of HIV prevention, misconceptions, stigma, higher-risk sexual behavior, previous HIV testing
  • HIV Prevalence - Prevalence of HIV by demographic and behavioral characteristics
  • Household and Respondent Characteristics - electricity, housing quality, possessions, education and school attendance, age, sex, employment
  • Infant and Child Mortality - infant and child mortality rates
  • Malaria - ownership and use of mosquito nets, prevalence and treatment of fever, indoor residual spraying for mosquitoes
  • Maternal Health - antenatal, delivery and postnatal care
  • Maternal Mortality (module)- maternal mortality ratio
  • Nutrition - child feeding practices, vitamin supplementation, anthropometry, anemia, salt iodization
  • Tobacco Use - tobacco use, exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Unmet Need for family planning
  • Wealth - division of households into 5 wealth quintiles to show relationship between wealth, population and health indicators
  • Women's Empowerment - gender attitudes, women’s decision making power, education and employment of men vs. women
  • Other modules - fistula, health expenditures

DHS Resources