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College of Social Work

Health & Retirement Study

As the largest and most comprehensive panel study of older adults in the United States, the HRS collects a broad set of demographic, social, economic, family, behavioral, and health-related variables. This includes validated measures of cognitive function and impairment that will be of interest to researchers examining the social determinants of ADRD. The HRS is currently one of three population-based studies supported by the Analysis Core.

The Analysis Core has developed resources for learning and using the HRS. These resources are available on this page, along with a description of the resource, target audience, and links to the respective video, webinar or Word document.

For webinars recorded in Powerpoint, please download the Powerpoint file to your computer, open in Powerpoint, and click “Slide Show/Play from Start.” Make sure your speaker is turned on to hear the audio presentation.


Understanding the HRS

The HRS is a nationally representative, longitudinal study of over 37,000 adults over age 50 in 23,000 households, which conducts interviews approximately every two years with the most recent data collection occurring in 2016. The HRS website includes comprehensive information on the study design, sampling procedures, questionnaires, and codebooks associated with the data and should be the first stop for CCADMR scientists interested in HRS. The following data on cognitive functioning are available in the HRS data:

  • Core Interview Cognition Data
  • Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study Supplemental (ADAMS)
  • Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP)

HRS Lecture Slides by Katrina Walsemann

HRS Resources Developed by Analysis Core Team


Description: The webinar presents steps for familiarizing yourself with the HRS data, the unique data products available and examples of questions you can ask using these data products. It includes data quirks that are important to know while writing your proposal.  

Target Audience: Scientists planning to submit a CCADMR pilot proposal 

Audio and Slides

Description: An overview of the HRS, including study design, content, and data resources available. You will learn cognition data available in the HRS and how to access it. 

Target Audience

  • New HRS users
  • Scientists planning to submit a CCADMR pilot proposal

Note: Start audio file at 22:50 for HRS and use HRS slides to follow along.


Description: An overview of how to navigate the HRS website and download data.

Target Audience

  • New HRS users
  • Scientists planning to submit a CCADMR pilot proposal
  • Current CCADMR pilot scientists

Note: Start webinar at 8:52


Description: An introduction to the HRS psychosocial module, also known as the leave behind questionnaire. The webinar reviews the content of the module, the sample design used in the leave behind, and how to use the leave behind data with the HRS core data in your analysis.

Target Audience

  • New HRS users
  • Scientists planning to submit a CCADMR pilot proposal
  • Current CCADMR pilot scientists

Note: Start webinar at 8:30

Description: Provides a step-by-step guide for downloading HRS data and importing data into Stata. Includes sample Stata code.

Target Audience: Current CCADMR pilot scientists

Stata do file

Description: Provides sample Stata code for managing and cleaning measures from the HRS Psychosocial Module. We recommend viewing the webinar, “An Introduction to the HRS Psychosocial Module,” prior to using this data resource.

Target Audience: Current CCADMR pilot scientists

Note: Start video at 19 minutes 


Description: Dr. Walsemann, Co-Lead of the Analysis Core, presents findings from her research that utilizes the HRS and one of the unique data products available in the HRS, the Life History Mail Survey (LHMS).  

Target Audience: CCADMR affiliates interested in learning about the HRS-LHMS

Note: The webinar on HRS LHMS begins at 44:02


Description: The HRS is a population-based study, but what does that mean? This webinar provides an overview of what defines a population-based study, including the use of probability sampling methods to select respondents into the study.

Target Audience: Those new to the population research field

Note: Start webinar at 13:06


To request specific HRS study data, CCADMR scientists should log in to the Resources for Project Scientists portal on the CCADMR website, download and complete the request form, and return to Dr. Katrina Walsemann. Other users can follow the data download procedures available on the HRS website or described in Step-by-Step Instructions for Downloading HRS Data.


For more information on the HRS, please contact the Analysis Co-Lead Katrina M. Walsemann.  

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