Cohorts & Data

Nine cohorts form the basis for the HALCyon studyThe 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 in 2008. These cohorts were chosen because they already have rich biosocial data that were 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) were 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 data on childhood diet.


HALCyon data

How to access data and meta-data from the HALCyon programme


HALCyon cohorts

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) birth cohort 1921, 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 birth cohort 1936 consists of approximately 350 men and women born in 1936 and followed up in 2000-01 at age 64.

Lothian Birth Cohorts Homepage

The Hertfordshire 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.

Hertfordshire Cohorts Homepage

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.

Boyd Orr Cohort Homepage

The Caerphilly Prospective Study

The Caerphilly Prospective 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

Caerphilly Prospective Study Homepage

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.

MRC National Survey of Health and Development Homepage

The National Child Development Study

The National Child 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 9times and are currently being followed up again at age 55 years.

National Child Development Study Homepage