The UK has a wealth of longitudinal data from cohort studies. Cohort studies follow up a group of people over time to gather repeated measures of life experiences and health status. This is extremely valuable as the measures can be used to predict those individuals who age well, and to understand the processes of ageing.
Together, the HALCyon cohorts cover 30,000 individuals born between 1918 and 1958, and aged 50 years or older at the start of the programme. These cohorts have been chosen because they already have rich biosocial data that will be used in the HALCyon work packages. Seven of the nine cohorts are life course studies with data from childhood and adulthood. The other two are adult cohorts (ELSA and Caerphilly) that have been included because of rich and repeated data in adult life. All the cohorts have data on adult physical or cognitive capability; Lothian, Caerphilly and NSHD have repeat measures. All have measures of self-reported functioning, wellbeing and mental health, lifetime social conditions, adult lifestyle and DNA, tests and serum markers of cardiovascular and other biological function, and stored blood samples. Five (HAS, HCS, Boyd Orr, NSHD and NCDS) have measures of infant and/or childhood growth and four (Lothian, Aberdeen, NSHD and NCDS) have measures of childhood cognitive function. Two (NSHD and Boyd Orr) have unique data on childhood diet.
In this section:
The Scottish Mental Health Surveys
The Scottish Mental Surveys were conducted as a school test of mental ability on the entire Scottish population aged 11 in 1932 and 1947. Follow-up of cohort members has been conducted from two centres, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The Lothian (Edinburgh based) cohort, consisting of 550 men and women born in 1921, took part in clinic assessments at ages 79 (N = 500) and 83 (N = 320), and are currently undergoing a third assessment (N approx. 220). The Aberdeen cohort consists of approximately 350 men and women born in 1936 and followed up in 2000-01 at age 64.
The Hertforshire Cohorts
The two Hertfordshire cohorts include men and women born during the period 1920-1939 when detailed information on every birth in the county was recorded by midwives. Follow-up studies were conducted on those born between 1920 and 1930 when 717 men and women aged 63-73 years attended a clinic assessment. Of those born between 1931 and 1939, 2997 attended a clinic assessment at 59-73 years.
The Boyd Orr Cohort
The Boyd Orr cohort is based on a cross-sectional survey of childhood diet and health involving 4999 children (0-19 years) examined in 16 centres in England and Scotland between 1937-1939. During 1997-8 a questionnaire was completed by 1648 of the sample. In 2002-03, 405 participants (aged 64-83 years) living near 4 of the original centres (London, Wisbech, Aberdeen, Dundee) took part in clinical examinations. Another 323 participants had blood samples taken by their GP.
The Caerphilly Study
The Caerphilly study contacted all men aged 45 to 59 years from the town and adjoining villages in 1978/9; 2512 were examined between 1979 and 1983, and on four further occasions, and they have also completed postal questionnaires
National Survey of Health and Development
The Medical Research Council (MRC) National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) is a social class stratified sample of 5362 men and women born in one week in March 1946 in England, Scotland and Wales, and followed up 21 times. At age 53, 3035 provided information, the majority (n=2989) being examined at home. A MRC funded clinic visit is currently taking place.
The National Children’s Development Study
The National Children’s Development Study (NCDS) has followed up all 17,000 births in one week in March 1958 in England Scotland and Wales. These men and women have been seen 8 times and are currently being followed up again at age 50 years.