Using the MEPS-HC to Study Change in Adult Mental Health

By Julia A. Rivera Drew and Natalie Del Ponte

The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component, or MEPS-HC, data are an invaluable resource for studying short-term trajectories in health, including adult mental health. An integrated series of the MEPS-HC data is available at IPUMS MEPS. Collected on the Self-Administered Questionnaire and, starting in 2019, the Preventive Self-Administered Questionnaire, the MEPS-HC includes two validated adult mental health scales. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) and the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression screener (PHQ-2) are asked twice per panel, during interview rounds 2 and 4 (see Table 1). There are also two validated scales measuring health-related quality of life (HRQOL) that capture several interrelated health domains, including mental health. These include the Short Form-12 (SF-12) in 2000-2016 and the Veterans RAND-12 (VR-12) starting in 2017 (see Table 2 for VR-12 measures). For more information on the SF-12, see the section on SF-12 scoring on MCS and for more information on the VR-12, see ADDAYA.

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An Age-Based Approach to Disability

By Solvejg Wastvedt and Yash Singh

Disability is dynamic: it evolves over time and interacts with environmental and societal factors. Due to the complex nature of disability, researchers conceptualize and measure disability differently depending on their research question and available data. For instance, an identical condition might evolve differently for a child facing food insecurity compared to one that has stable access to food. Similarly, a physical limitation for a worker in New York City may have a vastly different impact compared to a similar worker in rural Iowa. Disability can be viewed as the relational concept between individuals with physical or mental impairment and the environment.1 2 This complexity makes measuring disability a challenging task. The following post aims to help researchers understand and use disability measurements available in IPUMS data collections.

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IPUMS Announces 2020 Research Award Recipients

IPUMS research awardsIPUMS is excited to announce the winners of its annual IPUMS Research Awards. These awards honor the best-published research and nominated graduate student papers from 2020 that used IPUMS data to advance or deepen our understanding of social and demographic processes.

IPUMS, developed by and housed at the University of Minnesota, is the world’s largest individual-level population database, providing harmonized data on people in the U.S. and around the world to researchers at no cost.

There are six award categories, and each is tied to the following IPUMS projects:

  • IPUMS USA, providing data from the U.S. decennial censuses, the American Community Survey, and IPUMS CPS from 1850 to the present.
  • IPUMS International, providing harmonized data contributed by more than 100 international statistical office partners; it currently includes information on 500 million people in more than 200 censuses from around the world, from 1960 forward.
  • IPUMS Health Surveys, which makes available the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
  • IPUMS Spatial, covering IPUMS NHGIS and IPUMS Terra. NHGIS includes GIS boundary files from 1790 to the present; Terra provides data on population and the environment from 1960 to the present.
  • IPUMS Global Health: providing harmonized data from the Demographic and Health Surveys and the Performance Monitoring and Accountability surveys, for low and middle-income countries from the 1980s to the present.
  • IPUMS Time Use, providing time diary data from the U.S. and around the world from 1965 to the present.

Over 2,500 publications based on IPUMS data appeared in journals, magazines, and newspapers worldwide last year. From these publications and from nominated graduate student papers, the award committees selected the 2020 honorees.

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