DOWNLOAD Disability
Status Reports

Home  /   Data Sources  /   Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Search  /   Dataset Profile
Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Dataset Profile

Dataset: National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS)

Basic Information
Dataset full name: National Health and Aging Trends Study
Dataset acronym NHATS
Summary The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) collects individual level information on a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries’ ages 65 and older through in-depth interviews. It is a longitudinal study that began in 2011 with yearly follow-up of each participant. NHATS is designed to collect data on late life trends, functional decline, and impact of disability on socio-economic dynamics of individual functioning, and burden on family and society. The data includes a broad set of activities including self care, care giving, environment, technology usage, types of mobility device, early life status, household, income, medical, and participation in productive/social activities.
Key Terms Aging, disability, late-life functioning, physical, cognitive, medical needs
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Health conditions/Disability measures
Health condition(s) Arthritis, Broken bones, Cancer, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Falls, Heart attack, Heart disease , Osteoporosis, Stroke, Other serious illness
Disability Measures Depression, Anxiety, Visual disability, Hearing disability, Speaking disability, Physical impairments/capacity, Cognition, Mobility limitations/equipment use, Functional limitations, ADLs, IADLs
Measures/outcomes of interest
Topics Housing and household, self care, participation, physical/cognitive activities, health status and conditions, children and siblings, environment, environment modification, community participation, technology, mobility device, sensory impairment, physical impairments, sensory capacity, physical capacity, driving, transportation, self care activities, medical care, smoking, labor force participation, home ownership, car ownership, long term care, insurance, income, assets, facility and caregiver information.
Sample Population Medicare beneficiaries (65 years old or older)
Sample Size/Notes 2011 (Round 1) : 8,245
Unit of Observation Individual
Geographic Coverage National
Geographic specificity National
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode In-person interview
Years Collected 2011, 2012, 2013 onward
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and limitations
Strengths The NHATS sample is drawn from the Medicare enrollment file, oversampling the oldest age groups and Black non-Hispanic persons. 96% of persons ages 65 and older in the US are Medicare beneficiaries. Replenishment sampling planned for ongoing waves. Includes unique variables regarding environment, modification, accommodations, care giver burden, information on early life, and burden of disability on families, and society. 71% response rate (wave 1). Validated procedure between self-reported and performance-based measures. Restricted data includes NHATS geographic data and Medicare data linked to NHATS sample person.
Limitations Very limited baseline biomarker data.
Data details
Primary Website
Data Access
Data Access Requirements Data Use Agreement, No Cost
Summary Tables/reports
Dataset components (where applicable) Public Use Data:
Sample Person (SP) File - Sample Person survey and Facility Questionnaire (FQ) data
Tracker file - Tracks status of total sample for each round of surveys includes weights for differential non-response
Other Person (OP) file - each record represents a person identified in the SP file including proxy respondents, spouse/partner, household member, caretaker, social network member etc.
Pubic Use NHATS data can be linked to additional information including the following:
Sensitive data: National Study of Caregivers, NHATS Sample Person Sensitive Demographics file, NHATS Other Person (Spouse/partner) Sensitive Demographic file.
Restricted data files: linked Medicare data and geographic data.
Selected papers
Other Papers Freedman VA, Kasper JD, Cornman JC, Agree EM, Bandeen-Roche K, Mor V, Spillman BC, Wallace R, Wolf DA. (2011). Validation of new measures of disability and functioning in the National Health and Aging Trends Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 66(9): 1013-21

Ask Our Researchers

Have a question about rehabilitation datasets? Contact our researchers for technical assistance, log in or register.

The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

Other CLDR supported resources and collaborative opportunities:

Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

For questions or comments please contact

© 2018 Cornell University. All rights reserved.