Methodology core

What is the ‘Methodology core’ and why is it important?

Dr Rebecca Hardy discusses methods used in the HALCyon study.
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While the health outcomes of a study can be clear (for instance, that smoking can lead to cancer) often there are advances in methodology (or how the researchers go about study and how they analyse the data) which are just as important. The  appropriate methodology is needed to reach the correct scientific conclusions. Advances in methodology can be shared and used by other researchers around the world working on other similar projects. 

The HALCyon study is one of the largest cross-cohort studies ever attempted in the UK. Because this research combines data from nine studies, finding ways of meaningfully comparing and combining data is important. Preliminary studies with the HALCyon cohorts have demonstrated that some single measures (like grip strength) can be compared across cohorts, but the study needs to establish ways to compare summary measures of capability made up of multiple measures. Methods for combining results across cohorts will also need to be developed which allow for the fact that not all cohorts measure the same aspects of capability in the same way (for example, some studies ask participants to perform 5 chair rises while others ask for 10). 

This will require the use of a range of innovative statistical techniques, some of which will be developed specifically for this project.