Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
Need special equipment due to health problem

Codes and Frequencies

Can't find the category you are looking for? Try the Detailed codes


EQUIPMENT indicates whether sample adults and sample children had any health problem [or, for sample children, "any impairment") that required them to use special equipment. "Special equipment" was defined by example in the question wording, with "such as a cane, a wheelchair, a special bed, or a special telephone" integrated into the question for sample adults, and "such as a brace, a wheelchair, or a hearing aid (excluding ordinary eyeglasses or corrective shoes) integrated into the question for sample children.

Other Definitions 

In the section discussing "Limitation of Activities" for sample adults, the Field Representative's Manual for 1997 forward provided a formal and more lengthy definition of "special equipment," which was not routinely shared with respondents during interviews. The definition reads, "[S]pecial equipment' is any device, tool, utensil, instrument, implement, etc., used as an aid in performing an activity because of a physical, mental or emotional problem." The Manual for 1997-2000 continued, "This includes the use of adult 'diapers' for incontinence. However, ordinary eyeglasses and hearing aids should not be considered 'special equipment.' For example: a spoon is not normally considered as 'special equipment'; however, a uniquely designed or functioning one used for eating by a person because of physical, mental, or emotional problems is considered 'special equipment.'"

The meaning of "health problem" was routinely stated to respondents, in the introduction to the question that followed the query about sample adult's use of special equipment. Specifically, the interviewer stated, "By 'health problem' we mean any physical, mental, or emotional problem or illness (not including pregnancy)."

A formal and more lengthy definition of "health problem" was provided in the Field Representative's Manual, with only slight changes in wording over time. The Manual for 1997 stated:

'Problem' is the Sample Adult's perception of a departure from physical, mental, or emotional well-being. This includes specific health problems, such as a disease or condition, a missing extremity or organ, or any type of impairment. It also includes more vague disorders not always thought of as health related problems or illnesses, such as alcoholism, drug dependency or reaction, senility, depression, retardation, etc.

This longer definition of "health problem" was not routinely supplied to respondents during the interview.


This variable is completely comparable over time.


  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children under age 18.


  • 1997-2018