National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

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).

National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP): Wave 1 (ICPSR 20541)

Principal Investigator(s): Waite, Linda J., University of Chicago. Department of Sociology; Laumann, Edward O., University of Chicago. Department of Sociology; Levinson, Wendy, University of Toronto. Department of Medicine; Lindau, Stacy Tessler, University of Chicago. Pritzker School of Medicine. Departments of OB/GYN, Medicine (Geriatrics); O'Muircheartaigh, Colm A., University of Chicago. Harris School for Public Policy Studies, and NORC


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 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. The following files constitute Wave 1: Core Data, Marital/Cohabiting History Data, Social Networks Data, Medications Data, and Sexual Partners Data.

Included in the Core file (Part 1) are demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, education, race, and ethnicity. Other topics covered respondents' 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. In addition data was collected from respondents on the following items and modules: social activity items, physical contact module, sexual interest module, get up and go assessment of physical function and a panel of biomeasures including, weight, waist circumference, height, blood pressure, smell, saliva collection, taste, and a self-administered vaginal swab for female respondents. The Core file also contains a count of the total number of drugs taken, and a variable for each observed therapeutic category, 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 thus are guaranteed to be consistent with it. The Marital/Cohabiting History file (Part 2) contains one record for each marriage or cohabitation identified in Section 3A of the questionnaire. The Social Networks 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. Lastly, the Sexual Partners file (Part 5) contains one record for each sexual partner identified in Section 3A of the questionnaire.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have 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. 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.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS1:  Core Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS2:  Marital/Cohabiting History Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS3:  Social Networks Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS4:  Medications Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  Sexual Partners Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS6:  Original NSHAP Wave 1 Stata Data Files
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): Wave 1. ICPSR20541-v6. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2014-04-30.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


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

Smallest Geographic Unit:    None

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 in the United States.

Data Type(s):    clinical data, observational data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

This collection is being released in six parts: Parts 1 through 5 contain the ICPSR-processed files; Part 6 contains the original Stata data files with extended and nonextended missing values provided by the P.I. in a zip file package.

Please refer to the related data collection ICPSR 34921, National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP): Wave 2 and Partner Data Collection for further information regarding the NSHAP project.

For further information about the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), please see the NORC at the University of Chicago Web site.


Study Design:   

Respondents were randomly assigned to one of 6 interview paths, with the path determining which modules were received during the main interview or in the leave-behind questionnaire. Please see the included questionnaire for an in-depth description of the individual paths, which can be found within the ICPSR Data Collection Instrument PDF. In cases where a particular question appeared in the interview for some and in the leave-behind for others, they have been combined into a single variable to facilitate analysis. For more information on study design, users should refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook, as well as visit the NORC at the University of Chicago Web site.


A complex, multistage area probability sample was used of community residing adults born between 1920 and 1947, which included an oversampling of African-Americans and Hispanics. The NSHAP sample is built on the foundation of the national household screening carried out by the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in 2004. Through a collaborative agreement, HRS identified households for the NSHAP eligible population. A sample of 4,400 people was selected from the screened households. NSHAP made one selection per household. Ninety-two percent of the persons selected for the NSHAP interview were eligible. Researchers wishing to compute design-based variance estimates may use the variables STRATUM and CLUSTER. These variables were constructed from the original sampling units for the purpose of variance estimation; the former may be treated as (pseudo) strata and the latter as (pseudo) Primary Sampling Units (PSUs). For more information on sampling, users should refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook, as well as visit the NORC at the University of Chicago Web site.

Time Method:    Longitudinal: Panel


The data are not weighted, but contain two weight variables within the Part 1 Core data file, which users may wish to apply during analysis. Respondent-level weights representing the inverse probability of selection are contained in the variable WEIGHT_SEL. A second set of weights incorporating a non-response adjustment based on age and urbanicity is contained in the variable WEIGHT_ADJ. Both sets of weights are scaled to sum to the final sample size (3,005). For additional information on weights, please refer to the NORC at the University of Chicago Web site.

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

Response Rates:    The weighted sample response rate was 75.5 percent for in-home interviews, including a brief self-administered questionnaire, in-home collection of a broad panel of biomeasures, as well as a leave-behind questionnaire. The response rate for the leave-behind questionnaire was 84 percent.

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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2007-09-19

Version History:

  • 2014-04-30 The data and documentation were updated.
  • 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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