Supplemental Items

All CAHPS surveys are composed of standardized questions—referred to as core items—which supports the comparability of survey content across users. Several surveys also include optional supplemental items that users may add to customize their questionnaires.

CAHPS Core Survey + CAHPS Supplemental Items = CAHPS Customized Survey

Where To Find Supplemental Items

Search supplemental items for the topics and questions that will meet your needs. CAHPS-approved supplemental items are available for the following surveys:

  • Health Plan Survey 5.0
  • Clinician & Group Survey 3.0
  • Hospital Survey (HCAHPS)
  • Cancer Care Survey

Lists of supplemental items developed for the Health Plan Survey 4.0 and the Clinician & Group Survey 2.0 can be downloaded with those specific surveys.

Important Instructions When Using Supplemental Items

Subheadings: Depending on which questions you choose to use, you may need to insert an appropriate subheading. The format of any new subheadings should be consistent with that of existing subheadings.

Reformatting items: After you copy one or more supplemental items into the core questionnaire:

  • Fix the formatting of the items as needed to fit into the two-column format.
  • Renumber the supplemental item and ALL subsequent items so that they are consecutive.
  • Revise ALL skip instructions in the questionnaire to make sure they point the respondent to the correct item number.

Ways To Use Supplemental Items

Supplemental items are useful for multiple purposes:

  • Gather information about the experiences of a specific population. For example, you can use supplemental items to ask about interpreter services for consumers with limited proficiency in English.
  • Ask about domains or functions not included in the core questionnaire. For example, supplemental items ask about experiences with claims processing, health information technology, or specialists.
  • Examine other characteristics of respondents. For example, supplemental items can gather more information about the health status of respondents.
  • Obtain greater detail on experiences in a specific area. Once you have identified a general problem with a health care organization's performance, you can use supplemental items to "drill down" into the causes of those problems.
Page last reviewed April 2017
Page originally created June 2012
Internet Citation: Supplemental Items. Content last reviewed April 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/surveys-guidance/item-sets/index.html