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National Health and Aging Trends Study

a MiCDA Research Project Description

Investigators: Vicki Freedman

Funding (subcontract): National Institute on Aging, 2014-2017 (2 U01 AG 032947 06 A1)

The overarching goals of this project are: (1) to promote scientific inquiry into late-life disability trends and dynamics, their antecedents and correlates, and disparities therein and (2) to advance study of the social and economic consequences of late-life disability for individuals, families, and society. To achieve these aims, we propose the following activities for the second cycle of the National Health and Aging Trends Study:

1. Collect data in person from the original NHATS cohort annually in 2014-2018 (Rounds 4-8), including:
a. Continued collection of the enhanced disability protocol and supplemental questions on consequences including subjective and economic wellbeing, living and care arrangements, and quality of end of life;
b. New collection of biologic samples, some to be assayed to foster study of the link between disability and frailty, and others to be stored for future use;
c. Enhancements to the NHATS interview in two key understudied areas of potentially growing importance: use of rehabilitation services and its link to disablement, and the service environment and related amenities that support older adults in retirement and senior community settings; and
d. Modules submitted by the broader research community that provide additional innovative content and opportunities for harmonization.

2. Replenish the sample in Round 5 (2015) and follow the new cohort into Rounds 6-8. Replenishment will be implemented in such a way that NHATS maintains the ability to produce 5-year age estimates (up to 90+) and racial comparisons.

3. Clean, document and disseminate public use files online, make sensitive demographic information and restricted (e.g. claims, geographic) files available to the research community.

4. Undertake methodological studies to improve the efficiency of data collection in future rounds, including testing the sensitivity of estimates of capacity, accommodations, activity limitations, and participation restrictions to differential follow-up periods and applying modern measurement approaches such as Item Response Theory (IRT) to measures of capacity.

Research Signature Theme:

Health and well-being in later life: Disability