Codes and Frequencies
LEARNDEV reports whether the person has a learning disability. 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.
Children "who have difficulty learning as a result of visual, hearing, motor, mental retardation, or emotional disturbance" may have also received a positive response for one of the following four variables: ADDEV (Ever told had attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder); RETEV (Ever told have intellectual disability); or ODDEV (Ever told have other developmental delay); and AUTISMEV (Ever told have autism).
Changes in universe and question wording limit comparability between samples.
In 1988, household respondents were asked whether sample children ages 3 to 17 "ever had a learning disability."
In 1994 and 1995, this question refers to all persons in the National Health Interview Survey-Disability Survey (NHIS-D) Phase I sample. In those years, this question reports whether the person has a learning disability.
From 1997 on, the household respondent was asked whether "a representative from a school or a health professional ever told you" that the child had a learning disability. In samples before 1997 the respondent was not asked if he or she had been told the person had a learning disability. From 1997 through 2018, this question refers to sample children ages 3 to 17. Beginning in 2019, this question refers to sample children ages 2 to 17.
The 2000 Field Representative's Manual defined a learning disability as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written. It may be evident by an inability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. It includes conditions such as brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, or aphasia. It does not apply to children who have difficulty learning as a result of visual, hearing, motor, mental retardation, or emotional disturbance." This definition was not routinely shared with respondents and reflects the understanding of those who created the survey, not necessarily that of those who answered the question.
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.
- 1988: Sample children ages 3 to 17.
- 1994-1995: Persons in the NHIS-D Phase I sample.
- 1997-2018: Sample children ages 3 to 17.
- 2019: Sample children ages 2 to 17.
- 1988, 1994-1995, 1997-2019