Survey field methods for expanded biospecimen and biomeasure collection in NSHAP Wave 2

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014 Nov;69 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S27-37. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu045.


Objectives: The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project is a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of older adults. A main component is the collection of biomeasures to objectively assess physiological status relevant to psychosocial variables, aging conditions, and disease. Wave 2 added novel biomeasures, refined those collected in Wave 1, and provides a reference for the collection protocols and strategy common to the biomeasures. The effects of aging, gender, and their interaction are presented in the specific biomeasure papers included in this Special Issue.

Method: A transdisciplinary working group expanded the biomeasures collected to include physiological, genetic, anthropometric, functional, neuropsychological, and sensory measures, yielding 37 more than in Wave 1. All were designed for collection in respondents' homes by nonmedically trained field interviewers.

Results: Both repeated and novel biomeasures were successful. Those in Wave 1 were refined to improve quality, and ensure consistency for longitudinal analysis. Four new biospecimens yielded 27 novel measures. During the interview, 19 biomeasures were recorded covering anthropometric, functional, neuropsychological, and sensory measures and actigraphy provided data on activity and sleep.

Discussion: Improved field methods included in-home collection, temperature control, establishment of a central survey biomeasure laboratory, and shipping, all of which were crucial for successful collection by the field interviewers and accurate laboratory assay of the biomeasures (92.1% average co-operation rate and 97.3% average assay success rate). Developed for home interviews, these biomeasures are readily applicable to other surveys.

Keywords: Cardiovascular; Cytokines; Diabetes; Dried blood spots; In-home biomeasures; Steroids; Urinary measures..

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged / physiology
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urine Specimen Collection / methods


  • Hydrocortisone