Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA)

NICOLA (Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing) (http://nicola.qub.ac.uk/) is NI’s longitudinal study of ageing. The aim of NICOLA is to obtain information in relation to the experiences of ageing together with a range of other dimensions of lifestyle, health and socioeconomic circumstances. Recruitment for NICOLA began in early autumn 2013, when some 8,500 men and women aged 50 years and above were randomly selected from all over 50’s living in the community and invited to join the study.

Study participants are interviewed every two years, complete a health assessment every four years, and are followed-up for a period of at least 10 years. Information is captured on health and social care utilisation, health behaviours, medication, mental, physical and cognitive health, employment, finances, retirement, social connectedness, social participation, driving and travel, housing, consumption and expectations. Participants’ cardiovascular, cognitive and respiratory function is assessed as well as their physical activity, visual health and body composition. Biological samples provided by participants undergo detailed laboratory analysis, including genetic analysis.

Because NICOLA closely follows the approach taken by TILDA (ROI) and that of other longitudinal studies on ageing including ELSA (England), the establishment of NICOLA will provide an important evidence base for addressing current and emerging issues associated with population ageing across the island of Ireland. NICOLA has a special focus on intergenerational poverty, transition points in ageing and the effects of diet on the ageing process and includes questions of unique relevance to NI. NICOLA comprises an interview and a health assessment. The interview captures information on health and social care utilisation, health behaviours, medication, mental, physical and cognitive health, employment, finances, retirement, social connectedness, social participation, driving and travel, housing, consumption and expectations. The health assessment includes a review of cardiovascular, cognitive and respiratory function; physical activity, visual health and body composition. Participants are also to be asked to provide biological samples for detailed laboratory analysis, including genetic analysis.

Wave 1 interviews have now been completed with 8500 participants and a report on preliminary findings published:

Cruise, S. and Kee, F. (2017) Early key findings from a study of older people in Northern Ireland The NICOLA Study, Belfast, Queens University Belfast.

Wave 2 interviews began in 2017.

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Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA)
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