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How difficult to carry 10 lb without special equipment

Codes and Frequencies

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FLCARRY indicates the amount of difficulty the person has in lifting or carrying something as heavy as 10 pounds by themselves without special equipment. This variable was one of a series asking about functional limitations. 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 1984, sample persons ages 55 and older were first asked asked if they have any difficulty lifting or carrying something as heavy as 10 pounds, by themselves and without using aids. Those who replied that they do were then asked "How much difficulty do you have lifting or carrying something as heavy as 10 pounds?" Response categories were "Some," "A lot," and "Unable." Persons who did not report any difficulty were not followed up, but are included in this variable.

In 1994 and 1995, the universe included persons ages 18 and older in the National Health Interview Survey-Disability Survey (NHIS-D) Phase I sample, who were reported as having "any difficulty lifting something as heavy as 10 pounds, such as a full bag of groceries." Unlike other years, reporting in 1994 and 1995 was done by a household respondent. Persons who are not the household respondent were reported by proxy.

From 1997 to 2014, sample adults ages 18 and older selected the appropriate response from choices listed on a card. For 1997-1999, the card listed 5 choices: Not at all difficult (0); Only a little difficult (1); Somewhat difficult (2); Very Difficult (3); and Can't do at all (4). Beginning in 2000, a sixth choice was added: Do not do this activity (6). FLCARRY is completely comparable from 2000-forward.

For years prior to 2000, a small number of cases were coded as "Do not do this activity" in the NHIS public use data files. The Field Representative's Manual for 2000 explained,

Beginning in 2000, for all activities (not just shopping, participating in social activities, and relaxing at home as in previous years), respondents had the opportunity to respond in the interview that they 'do not do this activity.' This response was added to certain functional activities (related to walking, climbing, standing, sitting, stooping, reaching, grasping, carrying, and pushing) in the 2000 NHIS. In prior years, respondents were not permitted to use this response during the course of the interview, but might have been reassigned to 'do not do this activity' in the course of data editing based on information obtained from other condition questions.

Although, technically, "Do not do this activity" was a category for FLCARRY for 1997 forward in the NHIS public use files, this category is not actually comparable across the two periods 1997-1999 and 2000 forward. Very few cases (only 1 in 1997) were coded as "Do not do this activity" via data editing, compared to the number of respondents who self-selected this category for 2000 forward (284 in 2000). To increase comparability across years, researchers are advised to combine the categories "Can't do at all" and "Do not do this activity" when analyzing data collected both before and after 2000.


  • 1984: Sample persons age 55+.
  • 1994-1995: Persons age 18 and older in the NHIS-D Phase I sample who reported any difficulty lifting 10 pounds.
  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 1984, 1994-1995, 1997-2018