Community Tracking Study Household Survey, 1996-1997, and Followback Survey, 1997-1998: [United States] (ICPSR 2524)

Principal Investigator(s): Center for Studying Health System Change


This data collection comprises two components of the Community Tracking Study (CTS), the Household Survey and the Followback Survey. The CTS, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a national study designed to track changes in the health care system and their effects on care delivery and individuals. Central to the design of the CTS is its community focus. Sixty sites (51 metropolitan areas and 9 nonmetropolitan areas) were randomly selected to form the core of the CTS and to be representative of the nation as a whole. The Household Survey was administered to households in the 60 CTS sites and to a supplemental national sample of households. At the beginning of each interview, a household informant was identified and queried about the composition of the household. With this information, individuals in the household were grouped into family insurance units (FIU). An FIU reflects family groupings typically used by insurance carriers. It includes an adult household member, his or her spouse, if any, and any dependent children 0-17 years of age (or 18-22 years of age if a full-time student). Family informants, selected from each FIU in the household, provided information on health insurance coverage, health care use, usual source of care, and the general health of all persons in the FIU. These informants also provided information on family income and out-of-pocket expenses for health care, as well as employment, race, and Hispanic origin for all adult FIU members. Each adult in the household, including the FIU informants, responded through a self-response module to questions regarding unmet health care needs, patient trust, satisfaction with physician choice, limitations in daily activities, smoking behaviors, and last doctor visit. In FIUs with more than one child under 18, only one child was randomly selected for inclusion in the survey. The family informant responded on behalf of the child regarding unmet needs and satisfaction with physician choice. The adult family member who took this child to his or her last doctor visit responded to questions about the visit. The Followback Survey was designed to obtain detailed information on private health insurance coverage reported in the Household Survey. It was administered to health plans and other organizations that offered or administered the comprehensive private health insurance policies covering Household Survey respondents in the 60 CTS sites. Information on private health insurance policies collected by the Followback Survey includes product type, gatekeeping, consumer cost sharing, provider payment methods, and coverage of mental health and/or substance abuse services.

Series: Community Tracking Study Series

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    As explained in the technical documentation, some variables are restricted from general dissemination for reasons of confidentiality. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.

    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.

  • Health and Medical Care Archive

    This study is maintained and distributed by the Health and Medical Care Archive (HMCA). HMCA is the official data archive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


DS1:  Public-Use Version of the Main Data File - Download All Files (66.226 MB)
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  Site and County Crosswalk Data File - Download All Files (0.397 MB)
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS3:  Restricted-Use Version of the Main Data File - Download All Files (81.432 MB)

ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   

Study Description


Center for Studying Health System Change. Community Tracking Study Household Survey, 1996-1997, and Followback Survey, 1997-1998: [United States]. ICPSR02524-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-10-27.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (29275)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    communities, doctor visits, employment, families, health attitudes, health behavior, health care, health care costs, health care delivery, health care expenses, health care facilities, health care services, health services utilization, Hispanic or Latino origins, household composition, households, income, insurance coverage, insurance policies, mental health services, physician choice, physician patient relationship, private health insurance

Smallest Geographic Unit:    United States

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1996-07--1997-07 (Household Survey)
  • 1997-10--1998-08 (Followback Survey)

Date of Collection:   

  • 1996-07--1997-07 (Household Survey)
  • 1997-10--1998-08 (Followback Survey)

Universe:    Household Survey: Civilian household population of the contiguous United States. Followback Survey: Comprehensive private health insurance policies covering the universe of the Household Survey.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Additional information about this study can be found on the Center for Studying Health System Change Web site.



Household Survey: The CTS sites were selected using stratified sampling with probability proportional to population size. The supplemental sample, which was selected with stratified random sampling, was included in the survey to increase the precision of national estimates. Most households were selected using list-assisted random-digit dialing. In addition, area probability samples of housing units were selected in order to represent households without telephones or with intermittent telephone coverage.

Followback Survey: Health plans and other organizations that offered or administered private health insurance (generically referred to as "entities") were identified using the names of health insurance plans and employers that Household Survey respondents provided. These entities were asked to provide information on all of the private policies covering the 38,310 privately insured Household Survey respondents in the 60 CTS sites. Interviews were typically conducted with health plan marketing staff in order to determine the characteristics of the products that the entities offered, and then Household Survey respondents' policies were matched to these products.

Mode of Data Collection:    mail questionnaire, telephone interview

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:

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


Original ICPSR Release:   1998-09-11

Version History:

  • 2009-10-27 Stata setups for Datasets 1-3 and SAS and SPSS setups for Dataset 2 were added to the collection. In addition, some minor revisions were made to the SAS and SPSS setups for Dataset 3.
  • 2000-09-25 A total of 56 Household Survey variables were revised as a result of changes in editing and confidentiality masking procedures. For a list of these variables, users should consult the documentation. Additionally, data from the Followback Survey were added to Part 3, Restricted-Use Version of the Main Data File. To obtain these data, researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of a Restricted Data Use Agreement.
  • 2000-03-23 Part 1, Public-Use Version of the Main Data File, has been updated: variable SPANISH was added to the data, variables RACEX and RACEREX were revised, the SAS and SPSS data definition statements were revised, text format changes were implemented in the user guide and codebook, and text describing the use of weights was expanded. Also, a restricted-use version of the Main Data File has been added to the collection as Part 3. To obtain the restricted-use file, researchers must agree to the terms and conditions of a Restricted Data Use Agreement.

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