This proposal seeks continued funding to expand and enhance the IPUMS Health Surveys Project. IPUMS Health Surveys provides streamlined access to core U.S. survey data on population health through two integrated databases: the National Health Interview Survey (IPUMS NHIS) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (IPUMS MEPS). The NHIS is the leading source of information on U.S. health, health disparities, the social determinants of health, and health systems change; the MEPS is the primary source of information on national trends and correlates in health care spending. The proposed project will further improve this crucial resource for pathbreaking research in five ways: (1) Harmonization of redesigned NHIS. NHIS has been significantly redesigned in 2019. Several aspects of the redesign represent major departures from past practice and have implications for the comparability of the data over time. This project will create and modify existing IPUMS NHIS data and metadata to accommodate these changes to the survey, including documenting changes to the data collection procedures and data structure so users can develop analyses that bridge the survey redesign period to the fullest extent possible. (2) Database expansion. This project will expand IPUMS Health Surveys by integrating five new years of NHIS and MEPS survey data and documentation. In each year, the surveys will add, drop, and modify questions. The proposed project will accommodate and document those changes without losing detail. (3) MEPS enhancements. This project will enhance the IPUMS MEPS database by incorporating data from the 1996-2023 medical conditions and event files, documenting relationships among condition files, event files, and rounds and describing the relationships between the different file types and the data already available through IPUMS MEPS in machine-readable metadata that will be used to create new user-facing tools. (4) Data infrastructure and access improvement. The proposed project will enrich access to the data with three new approaches: (a) design and implement a variable construction system on the IPUMS MEPS website; (b) support online data analysis of the IPUMS MEPS data through a new online data tabulator; and (c) develop an Application Programming Interface (API) to facilitate programmatic access to MEPS and NHIS data. (5) Dissemination. Through user support, training, and outreach activities, the proposed project will attract new users and support continuing use of the IPUMS NHIS and IPUMS MEPS data. Along with conference exhibits and presentations, introductory workshops, and timely answers to user queries, the project will provide new introductory webinars, in-depth webinars covering specific topics, and two multiple-day workshops to train early-career scholars to use IPUMS MEPS.

Public Health Relevance

IPUMS Health Surveys provides free, streamlined access to detailed, population-representative, individual-level data used by researchers to uncover sources of health disparities, to understand the mismatch between America's large health investments and poor health outcomes, and to examine the role of insurance coverage and access to needed care in improving population health and reducing health disparities. Continuing support for IPUMS Health Surveys will extend past and current health data infrastructure investments, allowing researchers to employ these rich yet complex data in scientifically rigorous and replicable studies of population health, health financing, and health policy.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Social Sciences and Population Studies A Study Section (SSPA)
Program Officer
Chinn, Juanita Jeanne
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Kugler, Tracy A; Fitch, Catherine A (2018) Interoperable and accessible census and survey data from IPUMS. Sci Data 5:180007
Blewett, Lynn A; Call, Kathleen Thiede; Turner, Joanna et al. (2018) Data Resources for Conducting Health Services and Policy Research. Annu Rev Public Health 39:437-452
Xu, Dongjuan; Drew, Julia A Rivera (2018) What Doesn't Kill You Doesn't Make You Stronger: The Long-Term Consequences of Nonfatal Injury for Older Adults. Gerontologist 58:759-767
Henning-Smith, Carrie (2016) Quality of Life and Psychological Distress Among Older Adults: The Role of Living Arrangements. J Appl Gerontol 35:39-61
Henning-Smith, Carrie; Alang, Sirry (2016) Access to care for children with emotional/behavioral difficulties. J Child Health Care 20:185-94
Blewett, Lynn A; Dahlen, Heather M; Spencer, Donna et al. (2016) Changes to the Design of the National Health Interview Survey to Support Enhanced Monitoring of Health Reform Impacts at the State Level. Am J Public Health 106:1961-1966
Xu, Dongjuan; Drew, Julia A Rivera (2016) Cause, nature and care-seeking behaviour for injuries among community-dwelling older adults, USA, 2004-2013. Inj Prev 22:46-51
Gonzales, Gilbert; Henning-Smith, Carrie (2015) Disparities in health and disability among older adults in same-sex cohabiting relationships. J Aging Health 27:432-53
Henning-Smith, Carrie; Gonzales, Gilbert; Shippee, Tetyana P (2015) Differences by Sexual Orientation in Expectations About Future Long-Term Care Needs Among Adults 40 to 65 Years Old. Am J Public Health 105:2359-65
Henning-Smith, Carrie E; Shippee, Tetyana P (2015) Expectations about future use of long-term services and supports vary by current living arrangement. Health Aff (Millwood) 34:39-47

Showing the most recent 10 out of 28 publications