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Contexts Explored in Add Health


Data about this important context come from the In-School Questionnaire, the In-Home Interviews, the Parent Questionnaire, and, in many cases, questionnaires and interviews with additional adolescents living in the same household.

Peer groups/social networks

The In-School Questionnaire yields full social network data for most students in 140 schools. Students were asked to identify up to five male and five female friends, to locate and record their student numbers, and to indicate which of five activities they had done with each of these friends during the past week. Because friends' student numbers were recorded, friendship networks can be determined and a respondent's peer group, as well as his or her position within it, can be described in detail. Multiple measures of the strength of friendship ties are available. Patterns of association within the school community, the density and centralization of the social network, and the degree to which it is fractured on lines of race, gender, or behaviors can be computed. In-home interviews of adolescents in the saturation sample (i.e., adolescents who attended schools in which all students were solicited for in-home interviews) elicited nominations of the five closest opposite-sex and five closest same-sex friends who, it is likely, were also interviewed. The remainder of the in-home sample was asked about only one male and one female friend.

Dyadic relationships

Data were collected from adolescent respondents on best friends, romantic partners, and sexual partners; the clustered sampling design generates many pairings for which both participants are respondents. This allows, for example, for the analysis of peer influence, the process of pair formation and dissolution, relationship event sequencing, and relationship symmetry.

For 1,507 Add Health respondents interviewed at Wave III, data were also collected from their current partners. Partners completed an identical in-home interview. The sample consists of one-third married, one-third cohabiting, and one-third dating partners, representing a wide spectrum of relationship intimacy and commitment.


In addition to the data collected via the School Administrator Questionnaire and subsequent telephone interview, measures of school context can be constructed from student reports of school climate, and of teacher and student attitudes, and from parents' reports of the safety and quality of their children's schools.

Other school contextual information comes from secondary data in the Common Core of Data (CCD) and the Private School Survey (PSS), which describe the programmatic and demographic features of the schools and school districts from which Add Health respondents graduated.

For respondents attending college at Wave III, contextual data are included from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) that depict various aspects of the postsecondary institutions, including institutional characteristics and aggregate measures of those attending the schools.


Information about the neighborhoods/communities in which adolescent respondents live is gathered from a variety of sources, such as the US Census, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Council of Churches, and many other published databases. Other attributes are created by the aggregation of respondent reports. Community variables include the following:

  • geographic and household characteristics
  • labor force participation and unemployment
  • income and poverty
  • social integration/disintegration
  • availability and utilization of health services
  • social programs and policies
  • crime