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Dataset: Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly
Dataset Acronym EPESE
Summary The Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) is a longitudinal prospective study, funded by National Institute on Aging. The EPESE sample consists of non-institutionalized individuals age 65 and older in four regions: East Boston, Massachusetts; two rural counties in Iowa; New Haven, Connecticut, and central North Carolina. The purpose of the study is to understand the predictors of mortality, hospitalization, and risk factors for chronic diseases, functional decline, and admission to long-term care facilities. The study consisted of a preliminary baseline household interview of participants followed annually. Information from hospital/state records and death certificates are also included.
Key Terms Older adults, Hospitalization, Long-term care, Frailty, Chronic disease, Health behaviors, Chronic illnesses, Death, Health care, Hospitalization, Long-term care, Medical history, Mortality rates, Nursing homes
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Administrative
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

National Institutes of Health (NIH):

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

Stroke, Kidney/renal condition, Migraine or frequent headaches, Missing limbs/hand/finger/feet, Orthopedic conditions, Parkinson's disease, Pulmonary disorders, Chronic pain, Depression, Diabetes, Eye diseases, Heart attack, Cancer, Cardiovascular conditions, Alzheimer's/dementia, Arthritis, Body mass index (BMI)/obesity,

Disability Measures Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Communication impairment, Functional limitations (ADLs and/or IADLs), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Physical disability, Self-care disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology, Veteran service-related disability, Visual disability, Work limitation
Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics Income, Education, Marital status, Children, Employment, Religion, Physical functioning, Health-related problems, Health habits, Dental service use, Hospital service, Nursing Home Services. Clinical Variables: Height, Weight, Blood Pressure (baseline and third in-person interview)
Sample Population

Non-institutionalized persons 65 years of age and older

Sample Size/Notes

1981-1993: Approximately 14,456

Baseline sample:

  • East Boston (n = 3,809)
  • Iowa (n = 3,673)
  • New Haven (n = 2,811)
  • North Carolina (n = 4,165)


  • First follow-up: 14,070
  • Second follow-up: 13,382
  • Third follow-up: 12,381
  • Fourth follow-up: 11,657
  • Fifth follow-up: 10,998
  • Sixth follow-up: 9,998
  • Deaths during follow-up: 4,238
  • Lost to follow-up: 220
Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage East Boston, Massachusetts, New Haven, Connecticut, Iowa (Iowa and Washington counties), five counties in north central North Carolina
Geographic Specificity Individual level
Special Population(s)

Aging/Older people

Data Collection
Data Collection Mode

Baseline: In-person interview

Follow-up: Phone and in-person interviews depending on waveData supplemented by hospital and state data system health service records and death certificate information.

Years Collected 1981-1993
Data Collection Frequency

Baseline Data: 1981

6 approximately annual follow-up interviews

Strengths and Limitations

Longitudinal design of the survey assists in identifying risk factors of diseases, disabilities, hospitalizations, institutionalization, and mortality.

Large community-based sample and high initial response rate (80% and higher).

Attrition for reasons other than death was minimal.

Males were oversampled to maintain balance in the gender distribution. North Carolina sample consists of at least 50 percent African-Americans.

Small sub-sample had blood samples taken in sixth follow-up.

Limitations Sample not nationally representative. High proportion (up to 20%) of oldest cohort’s data based on proxy responses. Some variation in survey content by study location.Study relied on self-reported information on chronic disease, hospitalization, and nursing home service. Very limited nutrition/diet information.
Data Details
Primary Website



Data Access

Data archived on ADDEP at ICPSR:


Data Access Requirements Public Use Dataset
Summary Tables/Reports NA
Data Components
  • DS1: Baseline Data
  • DS2: First Follow-Up Data
  • DS3: Second Follow-Up Data
  • DS4: Third Follow-Up Data
  • DS5: Deaths Data
  • DS6: Fourth Follow-Up Data
  • DS7: Fifth Follow-Up Data
  • DS8: Sixth Follow-Up Data
  • DS9: Resource Data Book and Questionnaires
Similar/Related Dataset(s)

Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly - Piedmont Health Survey of the Elderly, Fourth In-Person Survey

Hispanic Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (Hispanic - EPESE)

Selected Papers
Other Papers




Questionnaires, codebooks and manuals:


Related Repositories

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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