National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, Public Use Children and Parenting Data, Wave IV

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The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) is a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades seven through 12 in the United States. The Add Health cohort has been followed into young adulthood with four in-home interviews, the most recent in 2008, when the sample was aged 24-32.* Add Health combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood. The fourth wave of interviews expanded the collection of biological data in Add Health to understand the social, behavioral, and biological linkages in health trajectories as the Add Health cohort ages through adulthood. The fifth wave of data collection is planned to begin in 2016.

Initiated in 1994 and supported by three program project grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with co-funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations, Add Health is the largest, most comprehensive longitudinal survey of adolescents ever undertaken. Beginning with an in-school questionnaire administered to a nationally representative sample of students in grades seven through 12, the study followed up with a series of in-home interviews conducted in 1995, 1996, 2001-02, and 2008. Other sources of data include questionnaires for parents, siblings, fellow students, and school administrators and interviews with romantic partners. Preexisting databases provide information about neighborhoods and communities.

Add Health was developed in response to a mandate from the U.S. Congress to fund a study of adolescent health, and Waves I and II focus on the forces that may influence adolescents’ health and risk behaviors, including personal traits, families, friendships, romantic relationships, peer groups, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. As participants have aged into adulthood, however, the scientific goals of the study have expanded and evolved. Wave III, conducted when respondents were between 18 and 26** years old, focuses on how adolescent experiences and behaviors are related to decisions, behavior, and health outcomes in the transition to adulthood. At Wave IV, respondents were ages 24-32* and assuming adult roles and responsibilities. Follow up at Wave IV has enabled researchers to study developmental and health trajectories across the life course of adolescence into adulthood using an integrative approach that combines the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences in its research objectives, design, data collection, and analysis.

* 52 respondents were 33-34 years old at the time of the Wave IV interview.
** 24 respondents were 27-28 years old at the time of the Wave III interview.

Wave IV was designed to study the developmental and health trajectories across the life course of adolescence into young adulthood. Biological data was gathered in an attempt to acquire a greater understanding of pre-disease pathways, with a specific focus on obesity, stress, and health risk behavior. Included in this dataset are the Wave IV children and parenting data.

Data File
Cases: 4,756
Variables: 46
Weight Variable:
See the following online document for details on weighting: Guidelines for Analyzing Add Health Data. To merge waves, use the merge variable "AID."
Data Collection
Date Collected: In-Home Interviews and biomarker collection: April–June 2007 (pretest), January 2008–February 2009 (main study)
Original Survey (Instrument)
Wave IV Section 20A: Children and Parenting
Funded By
Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations.
Collection Procedures
In-home interviews
Biomarker collection: blood pressure readings, anthropometric measures (height, weight, and waist circumference), and blood spots from a finger stick from all consenting respondents
Sampling Procedures
All original Wave I in-home respondents were eligible for in-home interviews at Wave IV. The Wave IV public-use file contains data on 5,114 respondents.
Principal Investigators
Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris, Director, Add Health and James Haar, Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology and Carolina Population Center Faculty Fellow, UNC-Chapel Hill
Related Publications
To access a publications database on the Add Health website, visit here, which includes more than 5,000 publications, presentations, unpublished manuscripts, and dissertations by Add Health researchers. To obtain a copy of any item, please contact the author.

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