The primary goal of the Life Histories and Health in Midlife Study was to conduct detailed analyses of the life histories and mental health statuses of a subsample of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), and subsequently link these data to new physical health data on general health, immune function, and neurophysiology.
Life history data is conceptualized in terms of the cumulation of positive and negative life experience across the life course. Individuals are viewed as being relatively advantaged or disadvantaged.
Mental health is conceptualized as having positive and negative components, operationalized in terms of psychological well-being and prior experience of depression, respectively.
Current physical health is assessed via traditional subjective health measures (e.g. symptom and condition check lists) and new clinical assessments:
Physical examination - utilizes clinical measures of multiple biological systems (e.g. autonomic, cardiac, limbic) to track a wide array of possible long-term health consequences of cumulative adverse life experiences.
Allostatic Load - a conceptual integration of separate risk factors encompassing various biological systems (e.g. cardiovascular, HPA axis, Sympathetic Nervous System) to characterize risk for disease. It has been operationalized in terms of 10 indicators of phsyiologic activity.
Immune Function - assessed by determining antibody response to influenza vaccination.
Neurophysiology - assessed via a laboratory study of emotions in which the respondent is exposed to a series of psychological stressors (viewing series of positive, negative, and neutral emotional pictures, mental math task, writing about significant positive and negative life experiences). During the course of this process Cerebral Activation Assymetry, Emotion Modulated Startle Response, and Salivary Cortisol levels are assessed.
Cumulative life history, mental health status, and physical health status are viewed as mutually influencing each other. For example, good mental health (i.e. high psychological well being) is thought to have a buffering effect that can minimize the negative consequences of adverse life experience (which could be a serious illness or injury). Similarly, having good physical health can provide resilience in the form of energy to cope more effectively with the stresses of major life experiences such as losing one's job and potentially minimize the negative mental health consequences of such an event. More specifically it is hypothesized that:
1) adversity and its accumulation over time has negative consequences for mental and physical health;
2) advantage and it's accumulation over time has positive consequences for mental and physical health;
3) reactions (psychological and physiological) to adversity and advantage can heighten or reduce the impact of life experiences.
A total of 354 individuals were invited to participate in the study; 202 completed the survey components (home interview and mail questionnaire). The mail questionnaire was sent to the respondent's home approximately 2 weeks prior to the interview and picked up by the interviewer. Among this group 122 completed at least one of the biological components of the study. Participation in three of the four clinical assessments required the respondent to spend the night at the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. During this visit, subjects provided blood and urine samples for analysis, received a complete, non-invasive physical examination, and participated in the laboratory study of emotions. For the immune assessment, the project nurse traveled to the respondent's home to administer the influenza vaccination and collect blood samples. Subjects could chose to participate in just the immune assessment (n=16), just the GCRC visit (n=21) or both (n=85).
Response Rate Details
INSTRUMENTS, DATA, AND DOCUMENTATION
Survey data for life history and mental health assessements, as well as subjective assessments of physical health were collected via home interviews and mail questionnaires. The biological data, as indicated previously, were collected using a variety of clinical methods. Copies of instruments, available documentation, and the data they are associated with are organized into 4 modules:
PERSONAL INTERVIEW DATA MODULE This module includes copies of all instruments used during the face to face interview conducted at the respondent's home.
Personal Interview Data
Mail Questionnaire Data
Life Events Data
Life Event data are presented in a separate module because they are provided in both the mail questionnaire and the interview. Respondents complete a life event checklist in the mail questionnaire and the interviewer collects additional information about these events as part of the interview. Since these data are linked in very specific ways it is appropriate to present them in a separate module. The specific files/materials included in each module are outlined below.
PERSONAL INTERVIEW INSTRUMENTS:
CODEBOOKS FOR PERSONAL INTERVIEW DATA: The interview data are provided in two files.
Three instruments were used in the course of the interview. The primary instrument is the interview booklet. On page 13 of the interview, the interviewer is directed to fill out one child information form for each of the respondent's living children (if any). Similarly, on page 14 of the interview, the interviewer is directed to complete sibling information forms for up to 3 of the respondent's living siblings (if any).
Note: The interview booklet (INTERVIEWBOOK.PDF) is only available in PDF format. The file listed above was created by scanning the interview booklet.
Personal Interview Part 1 -
SPOUSE SECTION (p.2) THRU PLANS FOR THE FUTURE (p.27)
List of Personal Interview Items - Part 1
Codebook and marginals for Personal Interview Questionnaire - Part 1
Personal Interview Part 2 -
GENERALIZED ANXIETY SECTION (p.36) THRU CAREGIVING SECTION (p.66)
List of Personal Interview Items - Part 2
Codebook and marginals for Personal Interview Questionnaire - Part 2
MAIL QUESTIONNAIRE DATA
Three mail questionnaires were administered in the course of the study. The primary instrument is the mail questionnaire booklet that was sent out for the respondent to complete in the week or two preceding the home interview, In addition, two short questionnaires (1-2 pages each) were sent out to all respondents about 2 months after the interview portion of the study was completed. These two instruments are the Religious and Spiritual Practices Questionnaire and a Handedness Survey which provides an assessment of the extent to which the respondent is right handed or left handed.
Note: The mail questionnaire booklet (MAILBOOK.PDF) is only available in PDF format. The file listed above was created by scanning the mail questionnaire.
CODEBOOKS FOR MAIL QUESTIONNAIRE DATA:
The mail questionnaire is divided into two sections. Each section contains a descriptive list of questions AND a codebook with detailed marginals for each variable. Data from the Religious and Spiritual Practices and Handedness surveys are found at the beginning of the first data file - Part 1.
Mail Interview Part 1 -
List of Mail Questionnaire Items - Part 1
Codebook and marginals for Mail Questionnaire - Part 1
Mail Interview Part 2 -
List of Mail Questionnaire Items - Part 2
Codebook and marginals for Mail Questionnaire - Part 2
The mail questionaire includes published scales commonly used in psycho-social surveys. Scale scores are included in the final data sets as available.
Descriptions of scales, references, subscale and reverse coding specifications.
LIFE EVENTS DATA MODULE
This module includes copies of the files containing cleaning documentation for the life event data, the data dictionary describing the variables, and the data file. These data are collected in two phases. A life event checklist is included in the Mail Questionnaire (pp. 31-32, see above) which is completed prior to the home interview (see above). About midway through the interview (pp. 28-35), the interviewer turns to the life event check list and asks the respondent a set of semi-structured questions intended to generate additional information about the events using an open ended format.
CODEBOOKS FOR LIFE EVENT DATA:
List of Life Events Items
Codebook for Life Events Data
BIOLOGY DATA MODULE
This module includes a copy of instruments used during the clinical assessments, files containing cleaning and variable construction documentation, data dictionaries describing the variables and the data files. The format(s) in which individual files are available is noted.
Clinical assessments typically do not use instruments, however we do have a standard form that the physician used to conduct physical exams.
PHYSICAL EXAM FORM
As a rule, data generated via clinical assessment is not subject to "cleaning" in the same way that survey data is cleaned. Rather data are clarified by the physician involved or the data are cleaned via the technology used to derive final values or scores from the original raw data. The latter is particularly true for the immune and nuerophysiological data.
BASIC PROTOCOLS FOLLOWED IN CONDUCTING ASSESSMENTS WITH REFERENCES.
Procedures followed at GCRC.
Experimental Protocol at Emotions Laboratory
Procedures followed for Immune assessments (collecting and processing blood samples only, assays are conducted using kits, protocols not available)
Specification of criteria for Allostatic Load
CODEBOOKS FOR BIOLOGICAL DATA:
The biological data from the physical exam are located in:
List of Biological ItemsData from constructing allostatic load, lab result data, immune data and neurophysiology data are located in:
Codebook and marginals for Biological Data
List of Allostatic Load, Lab, Immune, and Neurophysiology Items
Codebook and marginals for Allostatic Load, Lab, Immune, and Neurophysiology