The National Survey on Health and Disability (NSHD)

Using the National Survey on Health and Disability to Document Experiences of Working-Age Americans with Disabilities

This project builds upon the success of the existing National Survey on Health and Disability (NSHD) and develops partnerships with other NIDILRR-funded projects to develop survey questions, analyze data using appropriate methods, and assure activities are conducted in a rigorous and timely fashion. Use of the well-established NSHD provides the opportunity for collecting longitudinal data. The NSHD has been fielded four times to date, in 2018, 2019/2020, 2021 and 2022.

Objectives include:

  1. Develop, pilot, and administer the fourth wave of the NSHD with COVID-19 supplement (Summer 2022) with the established NSHD sample and analyze using appropriate methods, with comparisons to the general population;
  2. Conduct structured interviews with selected NSHD participants (Fall 2022-Winter 2023) to fully understand a variety of pandemic experiences across diverse racial/ethnic, sexual, gender, geographic, age, employment, and disability groups;
  3. Conduct a call for proposals for additional questions from other NIDILRR researchers (Spring 2023); and
  4. Administer the fifth wave of NSHD (Winter 2023/24), including questions from other NIDILRR researchers, addressing issues identified via Year 2 interviews, and any new issues as they arise.

The table below provides brief descriptions of the domains of the NSHD. Please note not all domains are included in every wave. If you would like more specific information about questions or items included in the NSHD, please contact Noelle Kurth at

DomainBrief description
DisabilityACS-6, open-ended disability item; has lasted or will last more than a year; age of onset; respondent self-categorized disability type
Health statusPhysical, mental and overall health; tobacco use, primary sources of care, frequency of routine medical care
TransportationAccess; types used
HousingType; stability of living situation; accessibility; problems (e.g. lack of heat, water, presence of mold, pests, etc.)
Community ParticipationLeisure and community activities; social isolation and loneliness
Personal Assistance Services (PAS)Use of paid and unpaid PAS; unmet PAS needs; PAS impact on employment
Public benefitsReceipt of SSI, SSDI, SNAP/food stamps, Section 8/HUD housing, child care subsidies, unemployment, LIEAP, TANF
EmploymentWorking for pay or self-employed; hours worked per week; employment longevity; income from employment
Current insurance coverageType (Employer-sponsored, Medicare, Medicaid, Marketplace, TRICARE); number of months with coverage in past year; use of Indian Health Services; out-of-pocket costs; adequacy of provider network
No health insurance coverageLength of time without insurance; reasons for no insurance; services needed but unable to receive; out-of-pocket costs
Unmet health care needsBy type of service (doctors, specialists, prescriptions, dental, mental health, DME, PT, OT, prosthetics); reasons for unmet need by type of service
Incomeindividual income from employment; household size; annual household income (based on % of FPL)
Demographicsage; SOGI; race; ethnicity; education level; marital status; parental status; living situation; veteran status; felony
Proxy completionType of proxy (family member, PAS, service provider, etc.); how proxy assisted respondent
COVID-19 testingAccess, results, date of most recent positive test; multiple infections; severity, long-term effects
Continued impacts of COVID-19availability of PPE; impact of stay-at-home orders and/or social isolation; vaccination status
Lifestyle and behavioral changes due to COVID-19Frequency of going out of the home; accessing food, medications, health care services, etc.
Economic impact of COVID-19changes in employment, household income, ability to pay bills, increase in debt, etc.
Long COVIDdoctor diagnosed v. not doctor diagnosed; impact of Long COVID on usual activities (driving, sleep, mental health, fatigue, mood, caring for others. caring for self, etc.)


IHDPS staff working on this project:

Jean P Hall,

Noelle K Kurth,

Kelsey Shinnick-Goddard, Project

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR, #90IFRE0050)