Protocol - Current Marital Status

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The interviewer asks about the respondent’s current marital status by presenting a numbered card that lists the answer choices. The respondent may select one category.

Specific Instructions

While the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) protocol is administered by interviewers and only to adults over 18 years, the PhenX Steering Committee suggests that there are multiple acceptable modes to administer this question (e.g., self-report paper-and-pencil and computer-assisted interviews) and that it may be administered to those under the age of 18 if a researcher finds it necessary.




1. Are you…

(Please read)

1[ ]Married

2[ ]Divorced

3[ ]Widowed

4[ ]Separated

5[ ]Never married


6[ ]A member of an unmarried couple

Do not read:

9[ ]Refused

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer must be trained to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer must be trained and found to be competent (i.e., tested by an expert) at the completion of personal interviews.* The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a "don’t know" response is provided.

* There are multiple modes to administer this question (e.g., paper-and-pencil and computer-assisted interviews).

Equipment Needs

The PhenX Steering Committee acknowledges these questions can be administered in a computerized or noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and-pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted instruments. The interviewer will require a laptop computer/handheld computer to administer a computer-assisted questionnaire.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Interviewer-administered questionnaire


Adult, Senior


Adults 18 years or older 

Selection Rationale

This protocol was selected because it is the most current and inclusive.


English, Other languages available at source

Derived Variables


Process and Review

The PhenX Steering Committee reviewed this measurement protocol. Guidance from the SC includes:

  • Replaced protocol
  • New data dictionary

Not back-compatible: requires changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Variable mapping (link)

Protocol Name from Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Core Section 8: Demographics, 2018


Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2018 Core Section 8: Demographics Question C08.06.

General References

Pierannunzi C, Hu S, Balluz L. A systematic review of publications assessing reliability and validity of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2004–2011External 2013, 13:49

Li C, Balluz LS, Ford ES, Okoro CA, Zhao G, Pierannunzi, C. A Comparison of Prevalence Estimates for Selected Health Indicators and Chronic Diseases or Conditions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the National Health Interview Survey, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2008. Preventive Medicine. 2012 Jun; 54(6):381-7.

Nelson DE, Powell-Griner E, Town M, Kovar MG. A comparison of national estimates from the National Health Interview Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. American Journal of Public Health, 2003; 93:1335–1341.

Rutigilano, R, Esping-Andersen, G. Partnership Choice and Childbearing in Norway and Spain. European Journal of Population. 2018; 34(3): 367-385.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX010903000000 What best describes your current marital status? N/A
Measure Name

Current marital status

Release Date

June 4, 2019


Question asking the respondent for his or her current marital status.


Marital status has been linked to health and mortality.


Demographics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, cohabiting, marriage, spouse, partner, married, National Survey of Family Growth, NSFG

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
10903 Current Marital Status

Loring, D. W., et al. (2022) Rationale and Design of the National Neuropsychology Network. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 2022 January; 28(1): 11-Jan. doi: 10.1017/S1355617721000199

Purvis, R. S., et al. (2021) Trusted Sources of COVID-19 Vaccine Information among Hesitant Adopters in the United States. Vaccines. 2021 December; 9(12): 1418. doi: 10.3390/vaccines9121418

Sanderson, S. C., et al. (2017) Public Attitudes toward Consent and Data Sharing in Biobank Research: A Large Multi-site Experimental Survey in the US. Am J Hum Genet. 2017 March; 100(3): 414-427. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.01.021