The Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) is a national sample survey designed to provide information on fertility, family planning and health in Ghana. The survey, which was conducted by the Statistical Service of Ghana, is part of a worldwide programme coordinated by the Institute for Resource Development/Macro Systems, Inc., in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The short-term objectives of the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) are to provide policymakers and those implementing policy with current data on fertility levels, knowledge and use of contraception, reproductive intentions of women 15-49, and health indicators. The information will also serve as the basis for monitoring and evaluating programmes initiated by the government such as the extended programme on immunization, child nutrition, and the family planning programme. The long-term objectives are to enhance the country's ability to undertake surveys of excellent technical quality that seek to measure changes in fertility levels, health status (particularly of children), and the extent of contraceptive knowledge and use. Finally, the results of the survey will form part of an international data base for researchers investigating topics related to the above issues.
Kind of data
Sample survey data
Unit of analysis
- Children under five years
- Women age 15-49
Producers and sponsors
Ghana Statistical Service (GSS)
Institute for Resource Development/Macro Systems, Inc.
United Nations Popuation Fund
United Nations Children's Fund
Loaned 8 vehicles
The 150 clusters from which a representative sample of women aged 15-49 was selected from a subsample of the 200 clusters used for the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS). All census Enumeration Areas (EAs) were first stratified by ecological zones into 3 strata, namely Coastal Savanna, Forest, and Northern Savanna. These were further stratified into urban, semi-urban, and rural EAs. The EAs (in some cases, segments of EAs) were then selected with probability proportional to the number of households. All households in the selected EAs were subsequently listed.
Note: See detailed description of sample design in APPENDIX B of the survey report.
Of the 4966 households selected, 4406 were successfully interviewed. Excluding 9 percent of households that were vacant, absent, etc., the household response rate is 98 percent.
Out of 4574 eligible women in the household schedule, 4488 were interviewed successfully. The response rate at the individual level is 98 percent. Of the 997 eligible husbands, 943 were successfully interviewed, representing a response rate of 95 percent.
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Three different types of questionnaires were used for the GDHS. These were the household, individual and the husband questionnaires. The household and the individual questionnaires were adapted from the Model "B" Questionnaire for the DHS program. The GDHS is one of the few surveys in which special effort was made to collect information from husbands of interviewed women on such topics as fertility preferences, knowledge and use of contraception, and environmental and health related issues.
All usual members and visitors in the selected households were listed on the household questionnaire. Recorded in the household questionnaire were data on the age and sex of all listed persons in addition to information on fostering for children aged 0-14. Eligible women and eligible husbands were also identified in the household questionnaire.
The individual questionnaire was used to collect data on eligible women. Eligible women were definedas those aged 15-49 years who spent the night prior to the household interview in the selected household, irrespective of whether they were usual members of the household or not. Items of information collected in this questionnaire are as follows:
1) Respondent's Background
2) Reproductive Behavior
3) Knowledge and Use of Contraception
4) Health and Breastfeeding
6) Fertility Preferences
7) Husband's Background and Women's Work
8) Weight and Height of Children Aged 3-36 Months.
In half of the selected clusters a husband's questionnaire was used to collect data on eligible husbands. Eligible husbands were defined as those who were co-resident with their wives and whose wives had been successfully interviewed. Data on the husband's background, contraceptive knowledge and use, as well as fertility preferences were collected.
All three questionnaires were translated into seven local languages, namely, Twi, Fante, Nzema, Ga, Ewe, Hausa and Dagbani. All the GDHS interviewers were able to conduct interviews in English and at least one local language. The questionnaires were pretested from mid-October to early November 1987. Five teams were used for the pretest fieldwork. These included 19 persons who were trained for 11 days.
Completed questionnaires were collected weekly from the regions by the field coordinators. Coding, data entry and machine editing went on concurrently at the Ghana Statistical Service in Accra as the fieldwork progressed. Coding and data entry were started in March 1988 and were completed by the end of June 1988. Preliminary tabulations were produced by mid-July 1988, and by August 1988 preliminary results of the survey were published.
The results from sample surveys are affected by two types of errors: non-sampling error and sampling error. The former is due to mistakes in implementing the field activities, such as failing to locate and interview the correct household, errors in asking questions, data entry errors, etc. While numerous steps were taken to minimize this sort of error in the GDHS, non-sampling errors are impossible to avoid entirely, and are difficult to evaluate statistically.
Sampling errors, on the other hand, can be evaluated statistically. The sample of women selected in the GDHS is only one of many samples of the same size that could have been drawn from the population using the same design. Each sample would have yielded slightly different results from the sample actually selected. The variability observed among all possible samples constitutes sampling error, which can be estimated from survey results (though not measured exactly).
Sampling error is usually measured in terms of the "standard error" (SE) of a particular statistic (mean, percentage, etc.), which is the square root of the variance of the statistic across all possible samples of equal size and design. The standard error can be used to calculate confidence intervals within which one can be reasonably sure the true value of the variable for the whole population falls. For example, for any given statistic calculated from a sample survey, the value of that same statistic as measured in 95 percent of all possible samples of identical size and design will fall within a range of plus or minus two times the standard error of that statistic.
If simple random sampling had been used to select women for the GDHS, it would have been possible to use straightforward formulas for calculating sampling errors. However, the GDHS sample design used three stages and clusters of households, and it was necessary to use more complex formulas. Therefore, the computer package CLUSTERS, developed for the World Fertility Survey, and was used to compute sampling errors.
Note: See detailed estimate of sampling error calculation in APPENDIX C of the survey report.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.