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Codes and Frequencies

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BRACE reports whether the person uses a supportive brace. Please see Comparability and Universe tabs for changes in universe and question wording between samples.


In 1994 and 1995 this variable is part of the Disability Supplement (NHIS-D) that collects information on disability. NHIS-D included two household interviews: in Phase I all members of sample families were screened for any indication of disability; in Phase II persons with any indication of disability were followed-up for additional information. Phase I includes sensory, communication, and mobility problems; health conditions; activities of daily living and independent activities of daily living; functional limitations; mental health; services and benefits; special health needs of children; early child development; education; relationship to respondent; and perceived disability. Phase II includes four Disability Followback Survey (DFS) questionnaires: one for children, one for adults, one for elderly persons (69 years of age and over) without any indication of disability (also called the Supplement on Aging or SOA; only in 1994), and one for persons with a history of polio.


Changes in universe and question wording limit comparability between samples.

In 1969, 1979, 1980 and 1990, a family respondent reported which family members, if any, used a brace. The universe includes all persons.

In 1990, only persons whose household respondents did not refuse to complete the assistive devices supplement were included in the universe. In 1994 and 1995, this question applied to persons in the NHIS-D Phase I sample.

In 2008, the question was only applied to the household sample adult.

The Field Representative's Manual for 1969, 1979, 1980, and 1990 instructs interviewers to not consider teeth braces, hernia braces or trusses as braces. The 1990 survey also directs interviewers to not consider surgical or elastic bandages as braces. In 2008, interviewers asked respondents whether the person used a brace, "to help you get around."

Along with changes in the universe and question wording, the presence of proxy reporting in 1969, 1979, 1980, 1990, 1994 and 1995, but not in 2008, could affect responses. In the earlier years, a respondent representing the family could answer this question for other adult family members. In 2008, except in rare cases where disability precluded self-reporting, sample adults answered the question for themselves. Although self-reporting is likely to be more accurate than proxy reporting, proxy report of a variable such as BRACE is likely to be accurate because family members may likely know whether someone in the family was wearing a brace.

The small change in wording in 2008 to specify the device be used "to get around" may not substantially affect the reporting of this variable, but this change should be noted.


  • 1969: All persons.
  • 1979-1980: All persons.
  • 1990: Persons whose household respondent did not refuse the assistive devices questionnaire.
  • 1994-1995: Persons in the NHIS-D Phase I sample.
  • 2008: Sample persons age 18+.


  • 1969, 1979-1980, 1990, 1994-1995, 2008