Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program Sites 1-4, 1979-1983 with National Death Index Data through 2007 (ICPSR 36621)

Alternate Title:   ECA

Principal Investigator(s): Eaton, William, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health


The Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) program of research was initiated in response to the 1977 report of the President's Commission on Mental Health. The purpose was to collect data on the prevalence and incidence of mental disorders and on the use of and need for services by the mentally ill. Independent research teams at five universities (Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Washington University, Duke University, and University of California at Los Angeles), in collaboration with the National Institute for Mental Health, conducted the studies with a core of common questions and sample characteristics. The sites were areas that had previously been designated as Community Mental Health Center catchment areas: New Haven, Connecticut, Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri, Durham, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, California. Each site sampled over 3,000 community residents and 500 residents of institutions, yielding 20,861 respondents overall. The longitudinal ECA design incorporated two waves of personal interviews administered one year apart and a brief telephone interview in between (for the household sample). The diagnostic interview used in the ECA was the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), Version III (with the exception of the Yale Wave I survey, which used Version II). Diagnoses were categorized according to the DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS, 3rd Edition (DSM-III). Diagnoses derived from the DIS include manic episode, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, single episode major depression, recurrent major depression, atypical bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse or dependence, drug abuse or dependence, schizophrenia, schizophreniform, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobia, somatization, panic, antisocial personality, and anorexia nervosa. The DIS uses the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), which measures cognitive functioning, as an indirect measure of the DSM-III Organic Mental Disorders. In the ECA survey, this diagnosis is called cognitive impairment.

This collection features data from 17,327 participants across 2,005 variables. Data from the Los Angeles, California, Catchment (UCLA) are not included. Baseline data (Wave 1) and Wave 2 data were linked to the National Death Index through 2007, which includes primary and contributing causes of death, International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes, and nature of injury variables.

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.

    Access to this study is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

    Users are reminded that these data are to be used solely for statistical analysis and reporting of aggregated information, and not for the investigation of specific individuals or organizations.

    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.


No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Eaton, William. Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program Sites 1-4, 1979-1983 with National Death Index Data through 2007. ICPSR36621-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-10-17. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36621.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36621.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH47447)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    alcohol abuse, amphetamines, anorexia nervosa, barbiturates, behavioral disorders, bipolar disorder, cocaine, death records, demographic characteristics, depression (psychology), drug abuse, epidemiology, fear, grief, hallucinogens, heroin, hospitalization, marijuana, mental disorders, mental health, mental health services, mental patients, needs assessment, personality disorders, psychiatric services, psychosocial assessment, schizophrenia, self medication, stimulants, substance abuse treatment, symptoms, tolerance

Smallest Geographic Unit:    Catchment Area

Geographic Coverage:    Baltimore, Connecticut, Durham, Maryland, Missouri, New Haven, North Carolina, St. Louis, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1979--1982
  • 1980--1983
  • 1979--2007

Date of Collection:   

  • 1983 (1979-1982: Wave 1)
  • 1983 (1980-1983: Wave 2)
  • 2007 (2007: Addition of NDI data)

Unit of Observation:    Individual, Metropolitan Area

Universe:    Persons aged 18 and older residing in catchment areas centralized to New Haven, Connecticut (Yale), Baltimore, Maryland (Johns Hopkins), St. Louis, Missouri (Washington University), and Durham, North Carolina (Duke).

Data Type(s):    administrative records data, clinical data, event/transaction data, observational data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

ICPSR reordered the variables in the original data based on the sequence in which variables appear in the original ECA Public Use Wave 1 and 2 codebooks (included with this collection). A questionnaire was not provided, however, questionnaires or question sequence could potentially be derived for each Catchment site using the original codebooks from ICPSR 6153.

Many variables from Waves 1 and 2 were recoded and assigned standardized values before the data were deposited with ICPSR. The producer codebook "cb36621-0001_producer" is the primary source for value label information, while variable labels, question text, and supplemental value labels were drawn from ICPSR 6153.

Wave 1 and Wave 2 documentation notes that Schizophrenia diagnoses were drawn from a psychiatrist's evaluation of reported delusional symptoms for the Duke Catchment. These symptoms were evaluated for plausibility and recoded. It is unclear if this process extends beyond the Duke Catchment, or if other Catchment Areas employed a similar qualification process.


Study Purpose:    The purpose of the ECA Program was to collect data on the prevalence and incidence of mental disorders and on the use of and need for mental health services. In addition, the data assess the validity of the diagnostic categories of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Third edition (DSM-III).

Study Design:   

The Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) program of research was initiated in response to the 1977 report of the President's Commission on Mental Health. All sites completed baseline interviews in 1979 to 1982 (wave 1) and follow-up interviews in 1980 to 1983 (wave 2). This addition includes data from the National Death Index through 2007 regarding participants from four of the five Epidemiologic Catchment Area sites. The collection features data from 17,327 subjects.


Random sampling of households and institutions within selected cities (Durham, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and New Haven, Connecticut); Original data were subject to multistage probability sampling; New Haven, Durham, and Baltimore oversampled elderly respondents, while St. Louis oversampled African Americans.

Time Method:    Longitudinal: Panel

Weight:    None.

Mode of Data Collection:    face-to-face interview, telephone interview

Data Source:

Administrative Records data, Clinical data, Event/Transaction data, Observation data, Survey Data

Description of Variables:   

Variable topics include a range of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), including diagnoses of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence, psychopathology and substance use disorders ascertained using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), questions on family relationships, socioeconomic and employment status, quantity and frequency of drinking alcohol, and use of health and mental health care services. Also included are variables from the Life Chart Survey. Baseline data are linked to the National Death Index through 2007.

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 variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2017-10-17



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