National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) (ICPSR 20541) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The health of older adults is influenced by many factors. One of the least understood is the role that social support and personal relationships may play in healthy aging. The National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) is the first population-based study of health and social factors on a national scale, aiming to understand the well-being of older, community-dwelling Americans by examining the interactions among physical health, illness, medication use, cognitive function, emotional health, sensory function, health behaviors, and social connectedness. It is designed to provide health providers, policy makers, and individuals with useful information and insights into these factors, particularly on social and intimate relationships. The study will be important in finding new ways to reduce morbidity and prevent dysfunction and disease as people age. The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), along with Principal Investigators at the University of Chicago, conducted more than 3,000 interviews during 2005 and 2006 with a nationally representative sample of adults aged 57 to 85. Face-to-face interviews and biomeasure collection took place in respondents' homes. Included in the Core File (Part 1) are: demographic characteristics, social networks, social and cultural activity, physical and mental health including cognition, well-being, illness, medications and alternative therapies, history of sexual and intimate partnerships and patient-physician communication, in addition to bereavement items, social activity items, physical contact module, sexual interest module, get up and go assessment of physical funtion and test results from vaginal swabs. The Core File also contains a count of the total number of drugs taken, and a variable for each observed therapeutic categories indicating whether the respondent reported taking one or more medications in that category. These variables are derived from the information in the medications file, and so are guaranteed to be consistent with it. The Marital History Data (Part 2) contains one record for each marriage or cohabitation identified in Section 3A of the questionnaire. The Social Network file (Part 3) contains one record for each person identified on the network roster. Respondents who refused to participate in the roster or who did not identify anyone are not represented in this file. The Medications File (Part 4) contains one record for each item listed in the medications log (including alternative medicines and nutritional products). Respondents who did not report taking any medications or who refused to participate in this module are not represented in this file. Sexual Partners Data (Part 5) contains one record for each sexual partner identified in Section 3A.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the restrictions note to learn more. Additional information can also be found in the Use Agreement.

    Users interested in obtaining these data from NACDA must request and complete the NSHAP Restricted Data Use Agreement form. Users can download this form from the download page associated with this dataset. A copy of this form can also be obtained by contacting ICPSR User Support (734-647-2200). Completed forms with original signature(s) should be mailed to: Director, National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Institute for Social Research, P.O. Box 1248, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248.


DS1:  Core Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS2:  Marital History Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS3:  Social Network Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS4:  Medications Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  Sexual Partners Data
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Waite, Linda J., Edward O. Laumann, Wendy Levinson, Stacy Tessler Lindau, and Colm A. O'Muircheartaigh. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP). ICPSR20541-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-07-28. doi:10.3886/ICPSR20541.v5

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (5RO1AG021487)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   aging, anxiety, attitudes, body height, body weight, demographic characteristics, doctor visits, drugs, ethnicity, family size, health attitudes, health behavior, health problems, health services utilization, health status, illness, intimate partners, life satisfaction, medical evaluation, medical procedures, medications, menopause, mental health, morbidity, nutrition, older adults, quality of life, sexual behavior, social networks, social support

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 2005-07--2006-03

Date of Collection:  

  • 2005--2006

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Community dwelling individuals ages 57-85.

Data Types:   clinical data, observational data, survey data


Sample:   Complex, multistage, area probability sample.

Mode of Data Collection:   computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI), computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), coded on-site observation, face-to-face interview, mixed mode, self-enumerated questionnaire, telephone interview


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2010-07-28 The data and documentation were updated.
  • 2010-05-17 The Restricted Data Use Agreement has been updated.
  • 2008-12-08 Additional documentation has been provided.
  • 2008-07-01 The data producer has supplied additional data for the Core and Medications files. A new Sexual Partners data file has been added. Two new technical reports -- Salivary Assays and Vaginal Swabs, which contain information from salivary specimens and vaginal swabs are now available.

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