Initiated in 1994 and supported by three program project grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with cofunding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations, Add Health is the largest, most comprehensive longitudinal survey of adolescents ever undertaken. Beginning with an in-school questionnaire administered to a nationally representative sample of students in grades 7-12, the study followed up with a series of in-home interviews conducted in 1995, 1996, 2001-02, and 2008. Other sources of data include questionnaires for parents, siblings, fellow students, and school administrators and interviews with romantic partners. Preexisting databases provide information about neighborhoods and communities.
Add Health was developed in response to a mandate from the U.S. Congress to fund a study of adolescent health, and Waves I and II focus on the forces that may influence adolescents’ health and risk behaviors, including personal traits, families, friendships, romantic relationships, peer groups, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. As participants have aged into adulthood, however, the scientific goals of the study have expanded and evolved. Wave III, conducted when respondents were between 18 and 26* years old, focuses on how adolescent experiences and behaviors are related to decisions, behavior, and health outcomes in the transition to adulthood. At Wave IV, respondents were ages 24-32** and assuming adult roles and responsibilities. Follow up at Wave IV has enabled researchers to study developmental and health trajectories across the life course of adolescence into adulthood using an integrative approach that combines the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences in its research objectives, design, data collection, and analysis. Add Health has been funded for a fifth wave of data collection. Wave V data collection will begin in 2016.
Multiple datasets are available for study, providing opportunities to increase knowledge in the social and behavioral sciences and many theoretical traditions. Add Health has become a national data resource for over 30,000 researchers. Users of the multiple Add Health datasets have obtained more than 700 independently funded research grants and have produced over 2,600 research articles published in multiple disciplinary journals and research outlets. We encourage researchers and students of public health, human development, biomedical sciences and related fields to explore the possibilities in this rich dataset.
For more information about Add Health, see our Frequently Asked Questions.
*24 respondents were 27-28 years old at the time of the Wave III interview.
**52 respondents were 33-34 years old at the time of the Wave IV interview.