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Longevity Briefs: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)

Posted on 7 September 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Understanding the complex dynamics of the ageing process and how ones life impacts that process is a tricky task. It includes unravelling the relationships between biology and behaviour, family circumstance, economics, health, social interaction and physical and mental well-being, and many other aspects of your lives. However, understanding these interactions is key for making decisions and informing policy on how to manage the shifting population demographics to a society becoming more and more encumbered with elderly individuals.

What did the researchers do: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) gathers multidisciplinary data from people aged over the age of 50 to understand all aspects of human ageing in England. The study was initially designed to be directly comparable with the US health and retirement study, or HRS.

Over 18,000 individuals have taken part in the study since it started in 2002, with the same people re-visited every two years. The evaluations include personal questions, a life history questionnaire, to collect retrospective data, as well as a nurse visit to collect biomarkers and more detailed measures of function. ELSA also possesses both genome-wide genotyping data as well as a large array of phenotypic data.

ELSA collects a wealth of information that may link to ageing. Source: ELSA

Key takeaway(s) from this research: Since 2002, when ELSA launched, more than 25 countries in the world have initiated such comparable longitudinal studies of ageing this forms the basis for important cross-national comparisons of the dynamics of health, socioeconomic status, retirement and well-being among aging populations. Such international comparisons are nowadays also facilitated by the extensive work carried out by a gateway to global aging to harmonised measures in ELSA with parallel measures in other ageing studies.

Check out the overview of the study here:

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