National Long-Term Care Survey: 1982, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004 (ICPSR 9681)

Version Date: Jun 21, 2010 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Kenneth G. Manton, Duke University

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The National Long-Term Care Survey (NLTCS) has completed six waves, nominally at five-year intervals, 1982, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004. The NLTCS is a nationally-representative sample both of the community and of institutionalized populations and is longitudinal in that sample persons join the survey once they reach 65 years of age and stay in the survey until they either die or are lost to follow-up. At each wave, a screener questionnaire is administered to the sample which divides the sample into three parts: the non-disabled (frequently called screen-outs), the disabled but living in the community, and the disabled living in an institution. About 5,000 people die between waves and are replaced by a sample of about that size of people who have become age 65 since the prior wave. Because of budget considerations it usually has not been possible to continue the entire non-disabled sample into the next wave. Instead a sample of the non-disabled is drawn to keep the total sample size for a wave at about 20,000. One of the interesting and useful features of the NLTCS is that data are collected on help that the sample person receives from informal caregivers.

The NLTCS is a very data-rich resource with many components, including disability measures, medical conditions, attained education levels, and income. Numerous papers have used it as a source of data addressing a wide variety of topics related to aging and disability.

Ancillary surveys have been added to measure other characteristics of the 65 and older population, to include a Caregiver Survey to acquire data on informal caregivers themselves (done in 1989, 1999, and 2004) and Next-of-Kin (NOK) surveys administered to sample persons who had died between 1982 and 1984 and again between 1994 and 1999. The sample has been frequently supplemented to compensate for low representation in some survey components, in particular the 75 years and older and 95 years and older components. In 1999 physical specimens were drawn from a sample of persons who responded to the survey. These physical specimens (blood where possible, alternatively a buccal wash) are subject to a genetic analysis and, in the case of blood, to a panel of proteins believed to be particularly important to health.

NLTCS Survey Data

Survey data are available in ASCII and SAS format.

The Analytic Data File, a file of derived variables for all waves of the survey incorporates correction factors and consistency checking. The Analytic Data File covers all waves of the survey and is available in both ASCII and SAS formats. Final versions of data for all waves, up to and including 1999 and a beta version for 2004, have been released and are supported by documentation.

Manton, Kenneth G. National Long-Term Care Survey: 1982, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-06-21.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (N2 U01 AG0007198)

This collection is restricted-use. Users interested in obtaining these data from NACDA are required to complete a signed Data Use Agreement. This form can also be accessed on the download page associated with this collection. Completed forms with original signature(s) should be emailed to

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1982, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004
  1. All documentation files are now publicly available for this study. In addition, the crosswalk which is in an Excel file (.xlsx) for all years is also publicly available.

  2. The restricted data files are comprised of zipped packages for each year 1982-2004, analytic, and weights, with accompanying documentation.


The National Long-Term Care Survey (NLTCS) was designed to study changes in the health and functional status of older Americans (aged 65+), as well as to track health expenditures, Medicare service use, and the availability of personal, family, and community resources for caregiving.

The sample design for the NLTCS can be described as a stratified, two-stage clustered design. Please refer to the report documentation for detailed information.


Persons aged 65 and older in the United States.



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Manton, Kenneth G. National Long-Term Care Survey: 1982, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004. ICPSR09681-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-06-21.

2010-06-21 Documentation for the Crosswalk has been added.

2010-06-08 Text edits were made to the metadata record.

2010-05-26 The data are restricted, but the documentation is available for download.

2010-05-25 All documentation files are now available for download.


Please refer to the documentation for details about base, cross-sectional, and other weight variables.



  • The 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.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

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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).