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Studies Collecting Biomarkers in Population Settings

Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and HRS-harmonized studies

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

National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) is an in-home survey of 3,005 persons aged 57 to 84 that collected biomarkers of health and physiological functioning to better characterize the health of survey participants.  Timing of biomarker data collection. NSHAP page at Biomarker Network website. ICPSR documentation.

South Side Health & Vitality Studies
The University of Chicago Medical Center's Urban Health Initiative (UHI) and the Center for Community Health and Vitality (CCHV) are forging relationships with community leaders and members to improve health and well-being on Chicago's South Side. The efforts involve a variety of approaches, both medical and social in nature. The South Side Health and Vitality Studies (SSHVS) involve a large group of health researchers from the university in partnership with community members who are working to generate knowledge about health and the impact of interventions to create and maintain good health on the South Side of Chicago. Through this collaboration, the Studies seek to design and conduct studies that result in benefits that are meaningful to researchers and communities.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is a nationally representative study that explores the causes of health-related behaviors of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 and their outcomes in young adulthood. Add Health seeks to examine how social contexts (families, friends, peers, schools, neighborhoods, and communities) influence adolescents' health and risk behaviors.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
NHANES III 1988-94 and NHANES 1999-2000 are nationally representative cross-sectional surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States. The design for each of these studies included a stratified multistage probability sample based on selection of counties, blocks, households, and persons within households. NHANES III and NHANES 1999-2000 were designed to oversample Mexican Americans, non-Hispanic blacks, and children and adolescents to improve estimates for these groups. Each NHANES consisted of an in-home interview followed by an examination at a mobile examination center.  The NHANES study consisted of survey, clinical examination, and laboratory components as well as a survey instrument.

Midlife in the United States (MIDUS)
The purpose of this project is to carry forward MIDUS, a national survey (N= 7,189), conducted in 1994/95 by the MacArthur Midlife Research Network. The sample included adults aged 25 to 74, as well as twins and siblings. Conceived by a multidisciplinary team, the study investigated the role of behavioral, psychological, and social factors in accounting for age-related variations in health and illness. MIDUS II will add a second wave to the study, approximately 9-10 years later. In addition, it will include a sample of African Americans in Milwaukee, WI (N= 400). The biological data collection will include laboratory challenge studies (both cognitive and orthostatic), with accompanying assessments of salivary cortisol, blood pressure and heart-rate variability. The project also studies the central circuitry of emotion (affective neuroscience) and  includes EEG measures of cerebral activation asymmetry and emotion-modulated startle. These measures have been previously linked to dispositional affect, depression, recovery from stressful events, and selected biomarkers.

The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS)
The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) is a long-term study based on a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. A companion sample contains comparable data for a randomly selected sibling of most respondents. WLS data cover social background, youthful aspirations, schooling, military service, labor market experiences, family characteristics and events, social participation, psychological characteristics, health and well-being, and retirement.  Data on heaight, weight and body mass index are also available.

Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study (SEBAS) in Taiwan
The Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study (SEBAS) provides information regarding the health and well-being of older persons in Taiwan. Taiwan has undergone rapid demographic, social, and economic changes, becoming a highly urbanized and industrial society with a growing population of persons age 65 or older. SEBAS explores the relationship between life challenges and mental and physical health, the impact of social environment on the health and well-being of the elderly, and biological markers of health and stress. The study collected self-reports of physical, psychological, and social well-being, plus extensive clinical data based on medical examinations and laboratory analyses. Examination of health outcomes included chronic illnesses, functional status, psychological well-being, and cognitive function. Questions regarding life challenges focused on perceived stress, economic difficulties, security and safety, and the consequences of a major earthquake. Biological markers were used to identify cardiovascular risk factors, metabolic process measures, immune-system activity, the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis, and sympathetic nervous system activity.

The Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (LA FANS)
The Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS) is a longitudinal survey of children and adults in 65 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.  Wave 2 of L.A.FANS, planned for 2006-2007, collects, documents, and places in the public domain new data for investigating the social and economic determinants of health status and health disparities.  L.A.FANS-2  re-interviews adults and children from Wave 1 of L.A.FANS and collects extensive social, economic, and health data, as well as information on the physical and social environments in which they live and work.  These data will allow researchers to examine a wide range of hypotheses about contextual effects on health and health-related behaviors using multilevel statistical models.  L.A.FANS-2 also collects self-reports on health status as well as biomarkers of stress, disease, and health, including obesity, cortisol (a stress hormone), blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker of acute inflammation), Epstein-Barr virus antibodies (a marker of immune function), total and HDL cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c to assess diabetes and glucose intolerance, and spirometry to assess pulmonary function.  For more details about L.A.FANS and information about obtaining the data, visit the project web site at

The National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS)
The National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS) is funded through a Cooperative Agreement (2 U01 AG0007198) between the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and Duke University's Center for Demographic Studies. It is a longitudinal survey designed to study changes in the health and functional status of older Americans (aged 65+). The survey began in 1982, and follow-up surveys were conducted in 1984, 1989, 1994, and 1999. A sixth follow-up survey was conducted during 2004. The NLTCS survey population consists of a sample of 35,000 people drawn from national Medicare enrollment files in 1982 that has been augmented with subsequent samples of approximately 20,000 Medicare enrollees obtained by adding 5,000 people passing age 65 between successive surveys done approximately every five years. Both elderly in the community (including those not impaired) and those residing in institutions are represented in the samples. The survey is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau using trained interviewers, and the response rate is above 95 percent for all waves. Supplemental surveys consist of the Next-of-Kin, Caregiver, and Blood and Buccal surveys done under subcontract with ASPE and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

The Women's Health Initiative Study (WHI)
The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is a long-term national health study that has focused on strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women. These chronic diseases are the major causes of death, disability and frailty in older women of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. This multi-million dollar, 15-year project, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), involves 161,808 women aged 50-79, and is one of the most definitive, far-reaching clinical trials of post-menopausal women's health ever undertaken in the U.S. The WHI Clinical Trial and Observational Study focused on many of the inequities in women's health research and will continue to provide practical information to women and their physicians about hormone therapy, dietary patterns, calcium/vitamin D supplementation, and their effects on the prevention of heart disease, cancer and osteoporotic fractures. The WHI holds a large repository of biological specimens that are available for ancillary study investigations. WHI will make available baseline and Year 3 serum, citrate plasma, EDTA plasma samples, and DNA for use by investigators who successfully compete for the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

Women's Health and Aging Study III. Pathogenesis of Disability in Older Women
This study evaluates the role of three potential contributors to the pathogenesis of disability: inflammation, hormones, micronutrient deficiencies, singly, in combination, and in relation to existing diseases, impairments and frailty. These questions are being addressed through analysis of already-collected data in the “Women’s Health and Aging Study” (WHAS I). WHAS I collected interview, physical examination and performance-based data on the one-third most disabled women living in the community; an ancillary study collected blood, analyzed many measures, and stored plasma and serum.  These data are complemented by information obtained in a parallel investigation, WHAS II, “Risk Factors for Physical Disability in Aging Women,” which included the 2/3 least disabled women in the community.

The MacArthur Research Network on Successful Aging Community Study is a longitudinal, three-site cohort study of high functioning Americans aged 70-79 in 1988. The MacArthur Study followed these persons over 7 years, re-interviewing them in 1991 and 1995. In addition to basic social and demographic variables, biological sample of blood and urine have been analyzed, with additional sample stored for later assays. For more information please contact Teresa Seeman (Tseeman[]

The Oregon Health Study (OHS) is a state-wide study of people's health and access to care. The purpose of the study is to find out about the health and health care experiences of people who were put on the Oregon Health Plan Standard reservation list in January and February of 2008. Results from the Oregon Health Study will be used to help leaders in Oregon and across the country improve access to health care in the future. The OHS is the first randomized controlled experiment to examine the causal effects of having some type of insurance coverage versus having no insurance at all. The Oregon Health Study will be conducted for at least three years in order to determine the effects of health insurance on health, health care utilization, and other outcomes.

Costa Rican Longevity and Healthy Aging Study (CRELES)
The Costa Rican Longevity and Healthy Aging Study (CRELES – Costa Rica: Estudio de Longevidad y Envejecimiento Saludable) is a nationally representative longitudinal survey of health and lifecourse experiences of 2,827 Costa Ricans aged 60 and over in 2005. The main study objective was to determine the length and quality of life, and its contributing factors in the elderly of Costa Rica. Project page at Biomarker Network website. ICPSR documentation.

National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS)
The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is a new resource for the scientific study of functioning in later life. The NHATS is being conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, with data collection by Westat, and support from the National Institute on Aging. The NHATS will gather information on a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. In-person interviews will be used to collect detailed information on activities of daily life, living arrangements, economic status and well-being, aspects of early life, and quality of life. Project page at Biomarker Network website.

Newcastle 85+ Study
Newcastle 85+ Study is a major study of health and ageing in the oldest old population (those aged 85 years and older). Led by Professor Tom Kirkwood, the Newcastle 85+ Study has recruited a birth cohort of more than one thousand 85 year olds from Newcastle and North Tyneside. The study is expected to provide extensive data on the value of multiple molecular and cellular biomarkers in predicting and explaining individual differences in the health of very old people. Project page at Biomarker Network website.

Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS)
The Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) is an on-going longitudinal survey in Indonesia. The sample is representative of about 83% of the Indonesian population and contains over 30,000 individuals living in 13 of the 27 provinces in the country. The first wave of the IFLS (IFLS1) was conducted in 1993/94 by RAND in collaboration with Lembaga Demografi, University of Indonesia. The fourth wave of the IFLS (IFLS4), fielded in 2007/2008 covering the full sample, was conducted by RAND, the center for Population and Policy Studies (CPPS) of the University of Gadjah Mada and Survey METRE. Project page at Biomarker Network website.

Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS)
The general goal of CLHLS is to shed new light on a better understanding of the determinants of healthy longevity of human beings. The study compiled extensive data on a much larger population of the oldest-old aged 80-112 than has previously been studied, with a comparison group of younger elders aged 65-79.  The goal is to determine which factors, out of a large set of social, behavioral, biological, and environmental risk factors, play an important role in healthy longevity.  Project page at Biomarker Network website.

Tsimane Health and Life History Project
The UNM-UCSB Tsimane Health and Life History Project is a joint health and anthropology project aimed at understanding the impacts of ecology and evolution on the shaping of the human life course. We focus on health, growth and development, aging, economics and biodemography of small-scale populations of hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists. We also combine biomedical and anthropological research with medical attention among Tsimane, an indigenous forager-farming group living in central lowland Bolivia in the Beni Department. Project page at Biomarker Network website.

The Cardiovascular Health Study
The Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) is an NHLBI-funded observational study of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in adults 65 years or older. Starting in 1989, and continuing through 1999, participants underwent annual extensive clinical examinations. Measurements included traditional risk factors such as blood pressure and lipids as well as measures of subclinical disease, including echocardiography of the heart, carotid ultrasound, and cranial magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI).

The Danish 1905-cohort Study
The Danish 1905-Cohort Study set out in 1998 to study all Danes born in 1905 who were invited to participate in a home-based, two hour, multidimensional interview, including cognitive and physical performance tests and the collection of DNA.  A total of 2262 individuals participated in the first wave in 1998, corresponding to a 63% participation rate.  The follow-up survey in year 2000 of the Danish 1905-Cohort included a total of 1086 individuals corresponding to a 78% participation rate among the survivors.  The questionnaire includes questions on self-rated health, diseases, medicine, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), cognitive abilities, depression, and life circumstances and events. Physical tests were included: grip strength, agility, speed, and spirometri. DNA samples were obtained through blood spots or cheek swabs.

Other Population-Based Health Surveys