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Dataset: National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name National Health and Aging Trends Study
Dataset Acronym NHATS
Summary The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) collects individual level information on a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older through in-depth interviews. It is a longitudinal study that began in 2011 with yearly follow-up of each participant. NHATS is designed to collect data on late life trends, functional decline, and impact of disability on socio-economic dynamics of individual functioning, and burden on family and society. The data include a broad set of activities including self care, care giving, environment, technology usage, types of mobility device, early life status, household, income, medical, and participation in productive/social activities.
Key Terms Aging, Disability, Late-life functioning, Physical, Cognitive, Medical needs
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

Alzheimer's/dementia, Anxiety disorders, Arthritis, Body mass index (BMI)/obesity, Cancer, Cardiovascular conditions, Chronic pain, Depression, Diabetes, Heart attack, Orthopedic conditions, Osteoporosis, Stroke

Disability Measures

ACS 6 question disability series, Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Communication impairment, Functional limitations (ADLs and/or IADLs), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Self-care disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology, Visual disability

Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics Housing and household, Self care, Participation, Physical/cognitive activities, Health status and conditions, Children and siblings, Environment, Environment modification, Community participation, Technology, Mobility device, Sensory impairment, Physical impairments, Sensory capacity, Physical capacity, Driving, Transportation, Self care activities, Medical care, Smoking, Labor force participation, Home ownership, Car ownership, Long-term care, Insurance, Income, Assets, Facility and caregiver information
Sample Population Medicare beneficiaries (65 years old or older)
Sample Size/Notes

2011 (Round 1): 8,245

2016 (Round 6): 7,276

Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage National
Geographic Specificity National
Special Population(s)

Aging/Older people

Data Collection
Data Collection Mode In-person interview
Years Collected 2011-present
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and Limitations

The NHATS sample is drawn from the Medicare enrollment file, oversampling the oldest age groups and Black non-Hispanic persons. In 2011, 96% of persons ages 65 and older in the U.S. were Medicare beneficiaries.

Replenishment sampling planned for ongoing waves. Includes unique variables regarding environment, modification, accommodations, care giver burden, information on early life, and burden of disability on families, and society.

71% response rate (wave 1). Validated procedure between self-reported and performance-based measures.

Restricted data includes NHATS geographic data and Medicare data linked to NHATS sample person.

Limitations Very limited baseline biomarker data.
Data Details
Primary Website http://www.nhats.org/
Data Access

Public Use Dataset: https://www.nhatsdata.org/

Sensitive and Restricted Use Datasets: https://www.nhatsdata.org/ResDataFiles.aspx

Data Access Requirements

Public Use Dataset

Data Use Agreement, No Cost (sensitive and restricted use datasets)

Summary Tables/Reports

Construction of performance-based summary measures of physical capacity in the National Health and Aging Trends Study


Data Components

Public Use Data:

Sample Person (SP) File - Sample Person survey and Facility Questionnaire (FQ) data

Tracker file - Tracks status of total sample for each round of surveys includes weights for differential non-response

Other Person (OP) file - each record represents a person identified in the SP file including proxy respondents, spouse/partner, household member, caretaker, social network member, etc.

Last Month of Life (LML) file – proxy respondent provides information about the deceased who died between interview rounds (Round 2 and beyond).

Pubic Use NHATS data can be linked to additional information including the following: Sensitive data: National Study of Caregivers, NHATS Sample Person

Sensitive Demographics file, NHATS Other Person (spouse/partner) Sensitive Demographic file

Restricted data files: linked Medicare data and geographic data

Selected Papers
Other Papers



User Guide:

Technical Papers:

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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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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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