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About Add Health

Initiated in 1994 and supported by five 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. In addition to five waves of Add Health study data, Add Health investigators have initiated satellite projects including the Parents (2015-2017) and OMICS projects.

Add Health Waves

Wave I took place between 1994 and 1995, during which 90,118 students from 145 middle, junior, and high schools completed a 45-minute questionnaire administrated in the school. Of the students who completed an in-school questionnaire, 20,745 adolescents were sampled to complete an in-home interview.

Question topics included health status and nutrition, peer networks, family composition and dynamics, sexual activity, substance use, criminal activities, and more.

Biological data were also collected, including height and weight. More information on Wave I and subsequent waves can be found in the Add Health User Guides.

During Wave II nearly 15,000 of the Wave I respondents were interviewed from April to August 1996, one year after the Wave I interview.

Participants who were in the 12th grade during Wave I or in the Wave I disabled sample were not sampled to participate in Wave II. The Wave II interview covered similar topics as the Wave I interview, with the addition of more detailed questions regarding nutrition and sun exposure.

More information on Wave II and other waves can be found in the Add Health User Guides.

Wave III was conducted from 2001 to 2002, interviewing 15,170 of the Wave I respondents. The questionnaire was designed to obtain relationship, marital, childbearing, and educational histories, and key labor force events. A sample of 1,507 partners of respondents was interviewed at Wave III, representing a wide spectrum of relationship intimacy and commitment.

Wave III collected residential latitude and longitude using a GPS device, along with high school transcript release forms. At Wave III, Add Health respondents provided saliva and urine specimens for HIV and STD testing. A subsample of full siblings and twins was also asked to provide a saliva sample for genetic analysis.

More information on Wave III and other waves can be found in the Add Health User Guides.

A fourth in-home interview was conducted in 2008 with 15,701 original Wave I respondents to study developmental and health trajectories across the life course of adolescence into young adulthood.

Survey questions were expanded to include educational transitions, economic status and financial resources and strains, sleep patterns and sleep quality, illnesses and medications, physical activities, memory, emotional content and quality of relationships, and maltreatment during childhood by caregivers. Additional indicators of interpersonal and occupational stressors, loneliness, and attitudes about parenting were included, along with expanded questions on substance addiction and dependency and items on intersections and balance between work and family responsibilities.

Geographic and biological data, including dried blood spots, were also collected.

More information on Wave IV and other waves can be found in the Add Health User Guides.

Wave V was conducted during 2016-2018 to collect social, environmental, behavioral, and biological data with which to track the emergence of chronic disease as the cohort advanced through their fourth decade of life.

The Wave V design included a mixed-mode survey. An in-home interview was administered to a sub-sample of respondents to analyze mode effects. Repeat anthropometric, cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory measures indicative of the change in and/or onset of chronic disease, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia were collected, along with new biomarkers of chronic kidney disease.

The survey was expanded to obtain retrospective reports of birth and childhood circumstances to supplement existing early life data.

More information on Wave V and other waves can be found in the Add Health User Guides.

Satellite Projects

The Add Health Parent Study (Parents 2015-2017) gathered social, behavioral, and health survey data on a probability sample of the Add Health parents who were originally interviewed in 1995. Data for 2,013 Wave I parents, ranging in age from 50-80 years and representing 2,244 Add Health sample members, are available. Additionally, 988 current spouse/partner interviews are available.

The Add Health Parent Study (Parents 2015-2017) was designed to improve the understanding of the role that families play through socioeconomic channels in the health and well being of the parent generation and that of their offspring. This unique data set supports the analyses of inter-generational transmissions of (dis)advantage. Parents (2015-2017) data permits the examination of both short-term and long-term linkages and interactions between parents and their adult children.

Principal Investigators: Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ph.D., James E. Haar Distinguished Professor of Sociology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Joseph Hotz, Ph.D., Arts and Sciences Professor of Economics at Duke University.

The Add Health Parent Study gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under the following Awards: The Add Health Parent Study: Phase I (R01 AG042794) and Locating the Parents of Add Health (R21 AG042663-01)

SOGI-SES, or “Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity, Socioeconomic Status, and Health across the Life Course”, will explore the relationship between sexual orientation/gender identity, socioeconomic status, and health.  The SOGI-SES project will collect, clean, disseminate and analyze new data from a subset of the Add Health cohort comprised of sexual and gender minorities and a comparison sample of cisgender heterosexuals. This project will be co-led by Add Health Deputy Director Dr. Carolyn Halpern.

Visit the OMICS page for more information on the various Add Health OMICS studies.

Current Directors

Acknowledgement

The Add Health contract and data use agreement require that the following be included in each written report or other publication based on analysis of the Add Health data:

This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (https://addhealth.cpc.unc.edu/). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Note: If using the Parents (2015-2017) data, in each written report or other publication based on analysis of these data, use the following acknowledgement in addition to the above acknowledgement:

The Add Health Parent Study/Parents (2015-2017) data collection was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (RO1AG042794) to Duke University, V. Joseph Hotz (PI) and the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kathleen Mullan Harris (PI).

Add Health GWAS data Acknowledgement:

Add Health GWAS data were funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Grants R01 HD073342 (Harris) and R01 HD060726 (Harris, Boardman, and McQueen). Investigators thank the staff and participants of the Add Health Study for their important contributions.

When GWAS data are combined with Add Health phenotype data, use this acknowledgement:

This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01 HD31921 from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Add Health GWAS data were funded by NICHD Grants R01 HD073342 (Harris) and R01 HD060726 (Harris, Boardman, and McQueen). Investigators thank the staff and participants of the Add Health Study for their important contributions.

Funders

  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development*^
  • National Cancer Institute*
  • National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS
  • National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS* National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities*
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases*
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders*^
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Nursing Research*
  • National Institute on Aging*
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism*
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse*^
  • National Science Foundation^
  • Office of AIDS Research, NIH*
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, DHHS*
  • Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH*
  • Office of the Director, NIH^
  • Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS Office of Minority Health, Office of Public Health and Science, DHHS
  • Office of Population Affairs, DHHS*
  • Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH*
  • MacArthur Foundation*
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
* Wave IV co-funders
^ Wave V co-funders