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Had frequent diarrhea, past 12 months

Codes and Frequencies

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For 1997 forward, DIARRHEAYR identifies those sample children who had "frequent or repeated diarrhea or colitis" during the past twelve months. The question wording did not require diagnosis by a doctor or other health professional. The Field Representative's Manual for 1997-2000 states, "Diarrhea is considered to be frequent if it occurs 3 or more times a day." This official definition was not routinely shared with respondents and reflects the understanding of the creators of the survey, not necessarily that of the general public.

Related Variables 

Colitis, which was not defined in the survey documentation, is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes diarrhea. Other variables identify sample adults with inflammatory bowel disease: BOWELINFYR, had inflammatory bowel disease, past 12 months, (2007); BOWELIRINFEV, ever told had inflammatory or irritable bowel (2002, 2007); CROHNEV, had ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (1999); and BOWELIRREV (for inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel), available for 1989.

For 1989, DIARRTROUBYR identifies adults who "had a lot of trouble" with diarrhea in the past year. The interview question defined "a lot of trouble" as "you saw or talked to a doctor or other health professional, you took medication more than once, or the problem interfered with your life or usual activities."

Information was separately collected, for both sample adults and sample children, on whether the individual had a stomach or intestinal illness with vomiting or diarrhea that had started during the previous two weeks (INTESTILL2WK). According to the Field Representative's Manual for 1998-2000, this question was primarily intended to measure short-lived infectious conditions "such as stomach flu, gastroenteritis, and so forth," not a recurrent or chronic illness like colitis.


From 1997 forward, DIARRHEAYR is completely comparable.

Along with the different universe, the different question wording in 1989 seriously compromises comparability with the post-1997 data.


  • 1997-2018: Sample children under age 18.


  • 1997-2018