This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).

Health Interview Survey, 1981 (ICPSR 8319)

Principal Investigator(s):


The purpose of the Health Interview Survey is to obtain information about the amount and distribution of illness, its effects in terms of disability and chronic impairments, and the kinds of health services people receive. There are five types of records in the core survey, each in a separate data file. The variables in the Household File (Part 1) include type of living quarters, size of family, number of families in the household, presence of a telephone, number of unrelated individuals, and region. The Person File (Part 2) includes information on sex, age, race, marital status, Hispanic origin, education, veteran status, family income, family size, major activities, health status, activity limits, employment status, and industry and occupation. These variables are found in the Condition, Doctor Visit, and Hospital Episode Files as well. The Person File also supplies data on height, weight, bed days, doctor visits, hospital stays, years at residence, and region variables. The Condition File (Part 3) contains information for each reported health condition, with specifics on injury and accident reports. The Hospital Episode File (Part 4) provides information on medical conditions, hospital episodes, type of service, type of hospital ownership, date of admission and discharge, number of nights in hospital, and operations performed. The Doctor Visit File (Part 5) documents doctor visits within the time period and identifies acute or chronic conditions. A sixth file has been provided. The Child Health Supplement File (Part 6) provides detailed data on child health and development. This supplement offers information on age of child, sex, birth-date, physical and social development, family relationships, prenatal care, hospitalization and illness, behavior, schooling, and seat-belt usage.

Series: National Health Interview Survey Series

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.


WARNING: This study is over 150MB in size and may take several minutes to download on a typical internet connection.

DS1:  Household - Download All Files (80.5 MB)
DS2:  Person - Download All Files (216.5 MB) large dataset
DS3:  Condition - Download All Files (177.5 MB) large dataset
DS4:  Hospital Episode - Download All Files (79.9 MB)
DS5:  Doctor Visit - Download All Files (81.1 MB)
DS6:  Child Health Supplement - Download All Files (280.8 MB) large dataset

Study Description


United States Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Health Interview Survey, 1981. ICPSR08319-v4. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-04-25.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   chronic disabilities, chronic illnesses, disabilities, doctor visits, families, health, health care, health care services, health problems, hospitalization, household composition, illness

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1981

Date of Collection:  

  • 1981

Universe:   Civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States.

Data Types:   clinical data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Corrections to Part 2, Person File, are included where the original data on age, sex, or date of birth have been found to be in error.

These data files contain weights that must be used in any analysis.

Per agreement with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), ICPSR distributes the data files and text of the technical documentation for this collection as prepared by NCHS.

The original column locations for variables C_1704, C_2015, and C_2016 in the Child Health Supplement File (Part 6) have been modified; the column locations provided by the NCHS were incorrect. Variables C_2015 and C_2016 have been renamed to accurately reflect the proper column locations. C_2015 is now named C_2016, and C_2016 is now named C_2017.


Sample:   A multistage probability sample was used in selecting housing units. Approximately 116,000 persons in 40,000 households were sampled.

Weight:   Detailed information regarding the use of weights is located within the documentation.

Mode of Data Collection:   face-to-face interview

Data Source:

personal interviews

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.

Restrictions: In preparing the data files for this collection, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has removed direct identifiers and characteristics that might lead to identification of data subjects. As an additional precaution, NCHS requires, under Section 308(d) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 242m), that data collected by NCHS not be used for any purpose other than statistical analysis and reporting. NCHS further requires that analysts not use the data to learn the identity of any persons or establishments and that the director of NCHS be notified if any identities are inadvertently discovered. ICPSR member institutions and other users ordering data from ICPSR are expected to adhere to these restrictions.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2011-04-25 The Child Health Supplement (Part 6) has now been made available to users.
  • 2011-04-14 A full product suite (SAS, SPSS, Stata) has been created and added to the collection. Some corresponding documentation has been added or updated and pre-existing data files have been replaced.

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