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Limited in kind/amount of work (health)

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults, LAMTWRK indicates whether they were currently unable to work at all, were limited in the amount or kind of work they could do, or were not limited in their work by a physical, mental, or emotional problem. Prior to 2019, the universe for LAMTWRK included all persons age 18 and older.

Beginning in 2019, LAMTWRK is one of three functional limitation variables that the NHIS continues to collect but are not part of the Washington Group measures on disability. (See our user note on the Washington Group Disability Measures.) The three measures asked in addition to the Washington Group measures capture limitations in participation in everyday life activities by determining difficulties experienced by sample adults participating in work (LAMTWRK), running errands alone (DISERRANDP), and participating in social activities (DSOCIALP) due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition.

The term "problem" was respondent-defined. Nonetheless, the Field Representative's Manual for 1997 forward informed interviewers what was intended by this term. The text states,

A problem is defined as the respondent's perception of a chronic, perhaps permanent, departure from physical, mental or emotional well-being. Short-term disabilities (such as pregnancy or injury where full recovery is expected) should not be included as problems.

The text for 2001 forward also states,

A health problem is respondent defined. Generally speaking, though, it is any condition, physical, mental, or emotional, which causes limitation in activity . . . Do not include pregnancy or delivery as a health problem.

The Manual for 1997 forward defined "limited" as referring to a person's ability to only partially perform a specific activity, perform that activity only part of the time, or not perform that activity at all. In practice, "limited" was respondent-defined. The Manual directed interviewers, "Do NOT define this term (limited) to respondents. If asked for a definition, emphasize that we are interested in whether the respondent thinks the person is limited in that specific activity or not."

LANOWORK (Unable to work due to health problem) repeats information included in LAMTWRK (i.e., those with an affirmative response, code "2," in LANOWORK, are coded as "3," "Unable to work," in LAMTWRK).


Before 2019, this variable was completely comparable over time. Beginning in 2019, the NHIS questionnaire and data collection approach was significantly revised. As part of those changes, the universe for LAMTWRK changed from all persons age 18 and older to sample adults age 18 and older.

While the general meaning of LAMTWRK is comparable over time, questionnaire design changes introduced in 2019 limit comparability with earlier years. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 1997-2018: Persons age 18+.
  • 2019-2022: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 1997-2022