Investigators: James McNally
Funding: National Institute on Aging 2008-2010 (1 R03 AG032373)
This application requests funds to support work by NACDA in the development of enhanced archival research materials and extraction tools that facilitate the study of the social context of health, economic behavior and cognition across the lifecourse in the United States. The American’s Changing Lives (ACL) represents a foundation study that measures the health and the progression of disability among the aged in the United States. As one of the few studies that explicitly Focuses on differences between Black and White Americans in middle and late life, these data constitute four waves of a national longitudinal panel survey that covers a wide array of variables that touch on sociological, psychological, mental and physical health items. This application argues that the introduction of enhancements such as user-friendly documentation will help overcome long-standing barriers that have limited the use of this study outside of a small core of sophisticated researchers. The proposed collaboration between the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA) and the ACL research team andwill allow us to apply our expertise in addressing this important task under the review of established experts of the ACL content.
The current application focuses on core enhancements that will enhance the structure of the four waves of the ACL, creating a more uniform data collection and performing a thorough evaluation of historical documentation and other documents that are not currently part of the ACL public use files. Our ongoing evaluation of data quality in collaboration with the ACL research team identifies specific enhancements that will make the data more accessible for secondary research by the broad community of researchers interested in this important study. We propose to implement a focused archival delivery system that will allow us to address four distinct research needs:
1. Enhancements to Data Structure: We will update and standardize the four panels of data constituting the American’s Changing Lives to meet current archival standards for complex longitudinal data collections.
2. Enhancements to Documentation: We will extensively revise the documentation on the ACL to include user-friendly versions of codebooks and questionnaires instruments. More importantly, we will create online documentation files for the ACL using XML, DDI compliant file format standards.
3. Enhancements to Restricted Data content: We will work with the ACL research team to review their collection of contextual data files which link ACL respondents to community level information down to the track level. These files represent an important value added to the ACL study but require a thorough review for content and for disclosure risks so protocols allowing the use of the data by qualified researchers can be developed.
4. Enhancements to Value Added Support Services: We will provide the ACL a full suite of support tools and value added products. Included in this suite of tools will be a dynamic online bibliography of the study that is searchable and will have stable links to all electronically available publications. Additionally we will attempt to identify and add additional technical material on the use, potential applications, and history of the ACL.
These goals, while far reaching, are realistic for NACDA under the Archival R-03 mechanism as the application builds upon a preexisting infrastructure that allows us to develop and deliver focused archival systems. This application takes full advantage of technology developed with earlier funding from NIA and other NIH agencies as well as past support from NSF and the Andrus Foundation. By leveraging technology developed with existing funding we can use the resources requested in this application to maximize our ability to enhance the ACL in ways that were impractical if not impossible only a few years ago.
Country of Focus: USA
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