National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP)

The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) is a longitudinal, population-based study of health and social factors and is conducted by NORC and Principal Investigators at the University of Chicago.

The aim of the project is to understand the well-being of older, community-dwelling Americans by examining the interactions among physical health and illness, medication use, cognitive function, emotional health, sensory function, health behaviors, social connectedness, sexuality, and relationship quality.

For all waves, data collection includes three measurements: in-home interviews, biomeasures, and leave-behind respondent-administered questionnaires. The face-to-face interviews and biomeasure collection take place in respondents' homes. More than 3,000 respondents were interviewed for the first wave during 2005 and 2006 with a nationally representative sample of adults aged 57 to 85 at the time of recruitment. In 2010-2011 (Wave 2), nearly 3,400 interviews were completed with the Wave 1 respondents, as well as non-interviewed respondents (individuals who declined to participate in Wave 1, but were approached again and agreed to participate in Wave 2), and their spouses or cohabiting romantic partners. In Wave 3 (2015-2016), all surviving respondents were again interviewed and a new cohort of respondents born between 1948 and 1965 during the Baby Boom was added along with their spouses/partners.

The identification variable SU_ID can be used to link the respondent records across the waves of the survey.

Weighting the NSHAP data:

In each wave there is a variable called WEIGHT_ADJ which is non-missing for all respondents in that wave, and which adjusts for differing probabilities of selection as well as differential non-response. These weight variables should be used for all cross-sectional analyses. Please note that the WEIGHT_ADJ variable differs across waves (since the selection probabilities and non-response vary across waves).

With respect to longitudinal analyses, NSHAP does not yet have a true panel weight (currently in progress). The Wave 2 weight variable (WEIGHT_ADJ) should be used for longitudinal analyses until the panel weight is created. The wave 2 weight is non-missing for all but 38 respondents with data for multiple (i.e., at least two) waves. Thus, this weight is adequate for longitudinal analyses using the subset of respondents with data from Wave 2 and/or at least two waves (this includes many typical longitudinal analyses). It is not advised to use this weight variable for those cases where someone wishes to include those respondents with data from only one wave, except for those with data only from Wave 2.

NSHAP is available as restricted and public use.

Users interested in obtaining the NSHAP restricted data files must be a faculty level PI, a Research Scientist or have a similar full time appointment at a University, College or Research Center. Graduate students interested in using NSHAP for thesis development or research purposes must obtain the signature of their faculty advisor as the responsible Party User. The application for the restricted data must also include a data protection plan and IRB approval.

The NSHAP public data does not include the following information:
  • Any direct identifiers, including date of birth and partner/marital history
  • Actual date and location of interview (month and year are included), language of interview, and third party presence
  • References to geographic location
  • Open-ended responses
  • Interviewer's physical description of the respondent
  • HPV results
  • HIV status and medications used to treat HIV

NACDA also maintains a Colectica portal with the NSHAP Core data across waves 1-3, which allows users to interact with variables across waves and create customized subsets. Registration is required.