, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 403–434 | Cite as

If My Blood Pressure Is High, Do I Take It to Heart? Behavioral Effects of Biomarker Collection in the Health and Retirement Study

  • Ryan D. Edwards


Starting in 2006, respondents in the biennial U.S. Health and Retirement Study were asked to submit biomarkers every other wave and were notified of several results. Rates of undiagnosed high blood pressure and diabetes according to these biomarkers were 1.5 % and 0.7 %, respectively. An intent-to-treat analysis suggests that collection and notification had small effects on the average respondent and may have reduced health care utilization. Among respondents who received notification of potentially dangerous biomarker levels, subsequent rates of new diagnosis and associated pharmaceutical usage increased by 20 to 40 percentage points, an order of magnitude above baseline. High blood glucose A1C was associated with a 2.2 % drop in weight and an increase in exercise among respondents without a previous diagnosis of diabetes. Notifications appear also to have altered health behaviors by spouses, suggesting household responses to health maintenance. Biomarker collection seems to have altered circumstances for an interesting minority of HRS respondents.


Economics of aging Expectations Knowledge 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Data Science Education ProgramUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Berkeley Population CenterUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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