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FAQ for RDC Access to CBHSQ Restricted-Use Data

What data sources are available from SAMHSA RDC?

The data of the Restricted Use File (RUF) of National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

What is the difference between NSDUH’s restricted use file (RUF) and public use file (PUF)?

SAMHSA’s restricted use data (RUF) has more comprehensive, detailed, and accurate data than PUF, with detailed race, sexual orientation, and geography.

How do I apply for restricted use data access?

You must submit a complete application via email to The application information is available at the SAMHSA RDC landing page.

How much does it cost to gain access to restricted use data?

Cost of access to restricted use data depends on number of NSDUH years, location of access (such as National Center for Health Statistics network versus Federal Statistical Research Centers) and frequency of access (NCHS vs FSRDC).

What are SAMHSA’s criteria to grant access to restricted use data?

We cannot list all criteria here. But here are few important procedural steps: After evaluating whether the application meets certain criteria, a SAMHSA Data Center team member will either approve, provide guidance for revision, or, in certain circumstances, reject the proposal. If approved, the researcher will complete confidentiality training and sign requisite forms and chose a research data center. Output from the data center must match table shells in the proposal and conform to SAMHSA’s objective of maintaining confidentiality for NSDUH survey participants (disclosure risk).

How fast can I expect to gain access to restricted data after submitting an application?

The median length is eight weeks. The quality of the application is the most important factor influencing the approval process. One of the reasons for application revisions may be that the table shells are not included in the initial application.

What resources are SAMHSA providing to support access to restricted use data?

SAMHSA offers practical tools to help navigate the restricted use data process, including materials to prepare a quality application, procedures, the processes needing to be followed, restricted use codebooks to prepare your proposal, and an online query tool to run preliminary data (we encourage you to explore our online query tools to explore whether certain questions can be answered with the online query tool before proceeding).

What type of output from the Research Data Center (RDC) environment is allowed?

Output must mirror the approved application. The layout must match the approved tables and figures within the final application, including title, indicator variables, and footnotes (with suppression rule explicitly stated). Intermediary outputs, such as multiple permutations of a single shell table, are not allowed.

What can I bring with me into the RDC data analysis room?

Only written documentation and water can be brought into the RDC. Please communicate with the RDC you are visiting prior to your visit.