Most CAHPS surveys include a core questionnaire, which supports standardization of survey content across users, as well as optional supplemental items that users may add to customize their questionnaire.

CAHPS Health Plan Core Questionnaire plus CAHPS Supplemental Items equals Customized CAHPS Survey

CAHPS supplemental items are available for the following surveys:

  • Health Plan:
    • Supplemental Items for the Adult Questionnaires (PDF, 325 KB)
    • Supplemental Items for the Child Questionnaires (PDF, 263 KB)
  • Clinician & Group:
    • Supplemental Items for the Adult Surveys 2.0 (PDF, 530 KB)
    • Supplemental Items for the Child Surveys 1.1 (PDF, 208 KB) (Note: The 2.0 version of these items is in development.)
  • ECHO: Supplemental Items for the Adult Questionnaires (PDF, 69 KB)
  • In-Center Hemodialysis: Supplemental items are provided at the end of the In-Center Hemodialysis Survey (PDF, 239 KB)

These documents include guidance on where to place each question in the core questionnaire. You can download them from the "Get Surveys and Instructions" page for that survey.

Types of Supplemental Items

The supplemental item sets include two types of questions. Many are a product of the development process for a CAHPS survey, such as questions that did not make the cut for the core questionnaire for some reason.

Others were intentionally developed and tested to address specific topics. Those items are grouped into the following survey-specific supplemental item sets:

For the Health Plan Surveys

For the Clinician & Group Surveys

The Health Plan Surveys also include several supplemental items labeled as "Quality Improvement" that were developed to support efforts to gather more detailed information about specific topics. Learn about Supplemental Items to Support Improvements in Health Plan Quality.

Why Use Supplemental Items?

The use of supplemental items allows survey sponsors to ask about domains or functions not included in the core questionnaire, examine other characteristics of respondents, or obtain greater detail on a specific domain or function. For example, once you have identified a general problem with a health care organization's performance, you may want to add and analyze supplemental items to "drill down" into the causes of specific performance problems.

Supplemental items can also address the experiences of a specific population. For example, to assess communication, a questionnaire can include core items that apply to all consumers as well as supplemental items regarding language access services for consumers with limited English proficiency.