Connecting the social and built environment to health and health inequalities

National Neighborhood Data Archive (NaNDA)

Neighborhood Context and Health

Over the last two decades, research demonstrating the impact of the physical and social environment on health and healthy aging has grown exponentially. Recently, the massive growth of electronic medical records and health informatics has motivated attention to patients’ residential context for individualized discharge planning and preventive health care within a precision medicine framework. Multiple surveys and cohort studies have promoted the study of contextual effects by making geographic identifiers available to users at various levels of geography:

Examples of Federally-funded Survey and Administrative Data available For Contextual Linkages

Data Source Population Years Linkage Protocol for Access
Health and Retirement Study US Adults age 50+ (N=~20,000) 1992-2018 Census tract Accessed through virtual enclave
with restricted data application
National Health and Aging Trends Study US adults age 65+ (N=~8,000) 2011-2018 Census tract Approved data protection plan in a restricted data application
Panel Study of Income Dynamics 1968 US sample (N=~18,000) 1968-2018 Block group Virtual enclave with restricted data application
Add Health US Adolescents (N=~20,000) 1994-2018 Block group Approved data security plan
Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) Medicaid/Medicare enrollees 2002-2018 Zip code Data Use Agreement with CMS

Yet, the construction of contextual measures is labor-intensive and costly, requiring a major investment in data acquisition and skilled personnel. Contextual data come from large datasets that span multiple years and exist at various geographic levels (e.g., block, census tract, county). Constructing contextual measures requires accessing multiple data sources and using appropriate techniques to aggregate them into a usable form for linkage to person-level data.

A National Neighborhood Data Archive

The National Neighborhood Data Archive (NaNDA) is a publicly available national data archive containing contextual measures that are theoretically derived and relevant for clinical, social, and psychological health and healthy aging outcomes. We are creating nation-wide measures of the physical and social environment at multiple levels of spatial scale. We draw from multiple contextual data sources to create measures (eg, walkability, crime, racial residential segregation, socioeconomic disadvantage and affluence, recreational centers, libraries, fast food, climate, healthcare, housing, public transit, civic participation) that can be readily linked to existing survey data, cohort studies, or electronic medical records over more three decades (1980-2020) at a range of geographic levels (state, county, tract, block group, metropolitan statistical area, zip code).

The project is led by our team of highly-experienced researchers in the Social Environment and Health Program with exceptional expertise in large-scale contextual data creation, integration, and dissemination. This project will augment the scientific power of existing data, cohort and clinical studies by making available innovative, theoretically meaningful, spatially-referenced contextual characteristics that can be easily linked to understand the multilevel factors shaping population health and healthy aging.

For more information please see: