Population-based cohorts of the 50s and over: a summary of worldwide previous and ongoing studies for research on health in ageing

  • Laurence Seematter-Bagnoud
  • Brigitte Santos-Eggimann


As most countries face the ageing of their population, understanding successful and pathologic ageing is a research priority. Longitudinal studies examining the ageing process from middle-age are required to establish causal and valid relationships. This systematic review of the literature aimed at identifying large community-based longitudinal studies either including exclusively elderly people or following people from middle-age (50+ years at enrolment) to death, and resulted in a selection of 72 cohort studies. Design features of selected studies show that most were conducted in North America or Northern Europe, most included both genders, and follow-up period was often less than 10 years. Many cohorts focused on cardiovascular health, cognitive decline or osteoporosis. Usually collected variables comprise of self-reported data on socio-demographics, chronic diseases and functional status, as well as measures of cognition, anthropometrics and physical performances. Biological samples were taken in about 60% of the studies, and a third also undertook genetic analyses. This review summarises information on design and content of large population-based cohorts of older persons, and represents a valuable background from which additional data may be retrieved.


Cohort study Longitudinal study Aged Ageing Review 



We wish to thank the investigators of the cohorts for their help in validating our results. Many thanks also to the people who participated in these longitudinal studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence Seematter-Bagnoud
    • 1
  • Brigitte Santos-Eggimann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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