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What is the National Health and Aging Trends Study?

The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is a study following Medicare beneficiaries age 65 years and older. The NHATS uses in-person interviews to collect information to study the ways daily life and activities change as we age.

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Why is this study being conducted?

The NHATS is a national research study of the changes that occur in our daily lives as we age. The study will provide valuable information that researchers will use to understand how people can lead fuller, healthier lives as they age. The study questions were developed by a team of researchers from many areas such as demography, geriatric medicine, health services research, economics, and gerontology.

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Why should I participate?

Your participation will help us learn about the ways people adapt to changes that late life brings. Your participation will help us make sure the many different experiences of people 65 and older are included. The information will show what life is like for older people in the U.S. now and how it might change in the future. Read more about NHATS and you. May 2019 (PDF- 391 KB)

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(link is external)

You will receive $20 for taking part in the study.

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Who was selected for the National Health and Aging Trends Study?

Individuals enrolled in Medicare were selected for the study. Because it is impossible to interview all Medicare enrollees, we used scientific sampling procedures to select a representative group of people throughout the country. Only about 9,000 people are participating in this important study. The experiences of the study participants represent those of thousands of other Medicare beneficiaries.

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How do I know this is a legitimate study?

The National Health and Aging Trends Study is funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health. The NIA leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is collaborating with the NIA. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is conducting the study with Westat.

Participation in the study is voluntary. Those who agree to be part of the study can still refuse to answer any question asked during the study or refuse to take part in any of the study activities.

You can call the study toll-free telephone number at 1-888-364-8271 to get more information.

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Is information about me kept confidential?

The study follows strict procedures and guidelines to keep the information that identifies you safe and private. The data that are collected will be used for research purposes only.

Names and addresses will be kept separate from the study data. The study will use a unique number code to label your information, and your name and address will be kept separate from the answers you give us. We will store all of your information in a secure computer database in a secure facility.

Further, all study team members are trained to protect information collected in the study. They must sign a pledge of confidentiality and the penalties for failing to honor that agreement are quite high.

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Who will be collecting this information and how long will it take?

Data collectors from Westat, a research company located in Rockville, Maryland, are conducting the study. Westat is working with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Institute on Aging on this study. For more information about Westat, you can visit the Westat website at (link is external).

The interview will take 2 hours or less, but that can vary from person to person. If for any reason it is not possible for you to complete the interview in one sitting, another appointment can be scheduled, at your convenience, to finish.

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What kind of information is collected?

The interview asks about the study participant's health, family, how everyday tasks are done, getting around at home and in the community, and activities that are important to the study participant. There are also some simple everyday activities that participants are asked to do. These include standing, getting up from a chair, walking, and breathing deeply.

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Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule allow my residential care facility to release any information?

Yes. This study conforms to the Privacy Rule as mandated by HIPAA where disclosure of resident data is permitted for public health purposes. The Privacy Rule also specifies that, in providing information to public health agencies and researchers, such as NIA and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the information asked for is the minimum necessary. The Privacy Rule permits disclosures without resident authorization for public health purposes and for research that has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). This study meets both of those criteria.

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Whom can I contact if I have additional questions?

If you have additional questions about this study, please call this toll free number:


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