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Limited in any (other) way

Codes and Frequencies

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LAOTHER indicates whether the person was currently limited in any "other" way due to physical, mental, or emotional health reasons. The term "other" must be interpreted relative to the preceding questions about functional limitations in performing many specific activities. (For discussion of the meaning of "problem" and "limited," see, for example, LAMTWRK).

Data Collection

The question that was the basis for LAOTHER--"Are [you/anyone in the family] limited in any way in any activities because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem?"--was asked only for persons who had not already been classified as limited in their activities in more narrowly-defined ways.


Specifically, the question was posed only if a person had not already been identified as limited in:

  • Receiving Special Education or Early Intervention Services (LASPED, LASPEDEM);

  • Needing help with personal care needs (LADL), including bathing (LABATH), getting out of bed or chairs (LABED), dressing (LADRESS), eating (LAEAT), getting around at home (LAHOME);
  • Needing help with routine chores, such as everyday household tasks, doing necessary business, and shopping (LAIADL);
  • Walking without using special equipment (LAWALK);
  • Having difficulty remembering or experiencing periods of confusion (LAMEMRY).

Because the range of activities covered by these other variables is broad, it is not clear what other types of activities and limitations might have occurred to respondents to report for LAOTHER. Neither the question wording nor the Field Representative's Manual gave any guidance about whether specific additional limitations (e.g., an inability to engage in prolonged and vigorous exercise, to read very fine print, or to consume certain foods due to allergic reactions) should be reported in response to this query. Because of the ambiguity of the subject matter for LAOTHER, researchers interested in functional limitations may wish to focus on the more clearly-defined limitation variables listed above.


The question wording and formal universe for LAOTHER were consistent over time. Nonetheless, because this variable functions as a residual, capturing limitations not previously reported in response to other questions, its comparability over time may be affected by changes in the other queries about the limitation of activities that preceded it during the interview.

The most notable of the changes in the other, preceding queries is the change in the variable universe for LAIADL (Needs help with instrumental activities of daily living).


In 1997, LAIADL collected information about all persons age 5 and older who "needed the help of other persons in handling routine needs, such as everyday household chores, doing necessary business, shopping, or getting around for other purposes" due to "a physical, mental, or emotional problem." Beginning in 1998, the question was reserved for persons age 18 and older.

The comparability of results for LAOTHER in 1998, relative to other years, is compromised by a problem in the skip pattern in the CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing) instrument used by field representatives conducting interviews in that year.


As the Survey Description Document for 1998 explains,

(A)n error in the CAPI instrument in quarters 1 and 2 produces underestimates of overall disability within the population. This problem is attributable to an incorrect skip pattern in PLIMANY (note: LAOTHER in IPUMS NHIS). Over 2,900 families (who had any family member identified as limited from the previous set of limitation questions) incorrectly skipped the PLIMANY question and its associated filter question. Persons who skipped this question are coded as 'not ascertained.' Given the distribution of persons who have any other limitation from quarters 3 and 4 in 1998 (and from all quarters in 1997), we expect that, of the 6,495 persons who skipped PLIMANY in the first two quarters, approximately 100 more persons would have been reported as having any other limitation in quarters 1 and 2 of 1998. As a result, the unweighted estimate of persons reporting, 'yes, limited in some other way' in 1998 would be about 9% higher had this error not occurred.


  • 1997-2013; 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018: All persons.


  • 1997-2018