Longitudinal Study of Aging (LSOA)

Survey Description

The Longitudinal Study of Aging (LSOA) is a collaborative effort of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the National Institute on AgingExternal (NIA). The Supplement on Aging (SOA), conducted in conjunction with the 1984 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), served as the baseline for the study. The LSOA is a prospective study with a nationally representative sample comprised of 7,527 civilian noninstitutionalized persons 70 years of age and over at the time of their 1984 SOA interview. The LSOA followed this cohort of older persons through three followup interviews, conducted in 1986, 1988, and 1990. While the baseline interview was administered face-to-face in the home, followup interviews were administered using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). All interviews were obtained by U.S. Census Bureau interviewers. The interview data is augmented by linkage to Medicare recordsExternal, the National Death Index, and multiple cause-of-death records.

The LSOA was designed to:

  • make data on the oldest-old and on people moving into that age group available to the research community,
  • describe the continuum from functionally independent living in the community, through dependence, including institutionalization, to death,
  • measure change in the functional status and in the living arrangements of older people,
  • provide mortality rates for demographic, social, economic, and health characteristics that are not available from the vital statistics system, and
  • provide measures of health care use for individuals over time.

Data File Contents

The LSOA data file contains information collected from multiple sources: the 1984 NHIS, the 1984 Health Insurance Supplement, the 1984 baseline SOA and all three followup LSOA interviews. It also includes data from Medicare claims records, the National Death Index, and multiple cause of death files. Below is an overview of data file variables at a glance:

1984 National Health Interview Survey

  • Demographic characteristics (including age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, veteran status, major activity, education, and family income)
  • Limitation of activities (long term)
  • Restriction of activities (2 weeks)
  • Bed-days (previous year and 2 weeks)
  • Chronic conditions and impairments (long term)
  • Acute conditions (2 weeks)
  • Doctor visits (previous year and 2 weeks)
  • Hospital stays and days (previous years)

1984 Health Insurance Supplement

  • Health insurance coverage for hospital care and doctor visits
  • Whether insurance is public or private
  • Receipt of Medicaid, military retirement, Veteran’s Administration pensions, and eligibility for veteran’s medical care and disability compensation

1984 Supplement on Aging (LSOA Baseline)

  • Family structure and living arrangements
  • Housing characteristics
  • Relationships and social contacts
  • Use of community services
  • Occupation and retirement (income sources)
  • Health conditions and impairments
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
  • Who provided help with ADLs and IADLs
  • Utilization of health services, nursing home stays
  • Health opinions

1986-1990 LSOA Followup Interviews

  • Living arrangements and change
  • Institutionalization
  • Occupation
  • Changes in physical limitations
  • ADLs and IADLs
  • Difficulty with physical movements
  • Nursing home stays since last interview
  • Hospital stays in past year
  • Contacts with doctors in past year
  • Hospital and nursing home stays before death
  • Economic information (1990 only)

Medicare Match Data

  • Hospitalizations covered by Medicare
  • Date of discharge
  • Diagnoses
  • Surgical procedures
  • Length of stay
  • Other care covered by Medicare
  • Home health care visits
  • Hospice
  • Outpatient

National Death Index Match

  • Fact of death
  • Date of death
  • Certainty about match

Multiple Cause of Death Records

  • Underlying cause of death
  • Multiple cause of death (up to eight)
  • Whether an autopsy was performed
  • Usual occupation
  • Business or industry

Geographic Coverage

The LSOA sample is representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population 70 years of age and over in 1984. Baseline geographic indicators include the four major census regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), type of primary sampling unit (based on 1970 census), and 1980 county adjacency codes.

Data Availability

The latest version of the LSOA (Version 5) is available on CD-ROM: The Longitudinal Study of Aging, 1984-1990, No. 1 (issued September 1993). This CD-ROM includes all data listed above under Data File Contents , except for the multiple cause of death data. The latter are available on diskettes. Details are provided below. To request a copy of the CD-ROM or diskettes, e-mail nchsquery@cdc.gov or telephone (301) 458-INFO.

CD-ROM: LSOA, Version 5
Interview data 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990
NDI data1 1990
Medicare Part A, Hospital record 1991
Medicare Parts A and B, Other Use record 1991

1NDI data include fact of death, date of death, and match status code.


Diskettes: Match data
NDI data1 1991
Multiple cause-of-death data 1989
Medicare Part A, Hospital record 1991
Medicare Parts A and B, Other Use record 1991

1NDI data include fact of death, date of death, and match status code.


Related Reports and the LSOA Questionnaires

Detailed descriptions of the survey are published in reports of the Vital and Health Statistics, Series 1, Number 21 Cdc-pdf[PDF – 20 MB] and Number 28 Cdc-pdf[PDF – 7.2 MB].

The LSOA questionnaires are provided in Appendices III-V of Series 1, Number 28.

Page last reviewed: November 6, 2015