Cohort Descriptives

Variable Response
Cohort Name Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal study of Ageing
Cohort Acronym NICOLA
Study Overview NICOLA is a public health study involving men and women aged 50 years and over living in Northern Ireland who will voluntarily be followed over a number of years. Households were identified that had people aged 50 and over living in them, a sample representative of the population of Northern Ireland was drawn from this and then the employed market research company sought the participation from appropriate members within those selected households. The study, set up by the Centre for Public Health in Queen’s University Belfast aims to provide information on the health, social and economic circumstances of ~8500 men and women as they grow older in Northern Ireland and how their circumstances may change over those coming years. The primary objective is to collect longitudinal data on physical and mental health, well-being,disability, economic circumstances, social participation and connectedness as people plan for, move into and progress beyond retirement. Information is obtained through a fieldwork survey utilising a CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) and a Self Completion Questionnaire which the participant completes in their own time. These interviews will take place approximately every 2-3 years. The interviewers collect information on living arrangements, children, education, income and assets, physical and mental health, employment, lifelong learning, planning for retirement, care and social support. Questions will be asked about health, diet, work, family and social networks, income and benefit receipts, quality of life, cognitive functioning, daily activities, housing, retirement and pensions. The affect of 'the troubles' on the lives of people will also be explored. A physical health assessment is also planned for alternative waves (wave 1, wave 3, wave 5 etc.) covering cognitive measures, blood pressure, grip strength, anthropometric measurements, gait and balance, respiratory, bodystat, blood/urine samples and an ophthalmic component. Information gathered during this study will be used to inform and plan Northern Ireland Health and Social Care provision in the future, and to design other policies targeted towards older people. NICOLA will address longer term research goals to investigate the determinants of retirement behaviour and economic wellbeing, the impact of cognitive function and sensory disability on decision making, the determinants of disability trajectories, the influence of social participation on these and the interaction of genetic, biological and psychosocial determinants on health and mortality. At present there are no other studies in Northern Ireland that will look at such an array of topics that provide a fuller understanding of the ageing process.
#Subjects at Baseline 8504 (8309 greater than or equal to 50years old, 195 less than 50 years old)
Institution Name Queens University Belfast
Department Name Centre for Public Health
City Belfast
Study/Database Website

Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Frank Kee (NICOLA Scientific Director)
Population Based Study? Yes
Family Based Study? No
Clinical based sample? No
Is there follow-up data available? Yes
Were participants included prior to development of dementia (may refer to controls only)? Yes
Were participants included prior to development of MCI (may refer to controls only)? Yes
How is data collected? Combination: Survey and Health Assessment
Who carries out data collection? Interviewers and Clinical staff: External Market Research Company (CAPI) and NICOLA trained nurses and research assistants (Health Assessment)
Does this take place in participants' homes or at a central location? Home and Central: Interviews (CAPI) take place in participant home, Health Assessment is predominantly based in Research Facility within hospital. However, some have also taken place in participant homes
Do participants take part individually or are families/partners involved? Family: All eligible within the same household were invited to take part in Wave 1. (eligible = partner of someone over 50years old, or other household member over 50 years old) Partners of eligible age (over 50) are invited in follow up waves.
Dementia cases ascertained as part of study: No
Diagnosis based on review of existing clinical data No
How regular is follow-up? Approx every 2 years
Study start date 1/20/2013 12:00:00 AM
Is study ongoing? Yes
Is study still recruiting? Yes
Inclusion criteria Participants were recruited from a sample representative of the population of Northern Ireland. Eligibility was based on the fact they needed to be aged 50 or over.
Exclusion criteria Member of households who are younger than 50 years are excluded unless they are a spouse or Partner of an eligible NICOLA participant


Variable type Variables generally collected
Study ID Y
Age Y
Sex Y


Variable type Variables generally collected
Age Y
Age at time of diagnosis of dementia Y
Age at last follow-up Y
Age at time of death Y
Sex Y
Ethnicity Y
Level of education Y
Employment status Y
Socioeconomic status measures Y

Physical Health Status

Variable type Variables generally collected
Cardiovascular disease data (Self-reported) Y
Myocardial infarction (Self-reported) Y
Medication use for CVD (Self-reported) Y
Hypertension (Self-reported) Y
Systolic/diastolic BP Y
Hypotension Y
Hypercholesterolemia Y
Cancer (Self-reported) Y
Diabetic Status (Self-reported) Y

Healthcare Utilisation

Variable type Variables generally collected
Medication use Y
Medication use for CVD Y

Life Functionality

Variable type Variables generally collected
Complex Activities of Daily Living Y

Psychological Status

Variable type Variables generally collected
Self reported hours of sleep Y
Medication to aid sleep Y

Mental Health Status

Variable type Variables generally collected
Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) Y
Hospital anxiety depression scale/psychiatry (HADS) Y


Variable type Variables generally collected
Smoking Y
Pack years Y
Passive smoking Y
Current smoking Y
Former smoking Y
Alcohol Y
Units per day/week vs weekend Y
Specified beverage type (wine, spirits, beers) Y
Abstainers/former users Y
Binge drinking Y
Drugs of abuse assessment Y
Physical activity and exercise Y
Type of exercise: heavy,light Y
Exercise duration Y
Occupation possible job matrices Y
Objective measures of activity Y
Diet: Carbs, protein, fats, fish oil Y
Anti-oxidants Y
Vegetarian? Y
Coffee and caffeine Y
Vitamin A,B,E Y
Fat intake MUFA, PUFA Y
Food questionnaires Y

Physical Environment

Variable type Variables generally collected
Living situation Y

Physical Examination

Variable type Variables generally collected
Blood pressure Y
Weight Y
Height Y
Gait assessment Y
Opthalmic examination Y
Visual fields (direct/indirect) Y
Colour vision Y
Grip strength Y
Respiratory Y
Bodystat Y
Fat percentage Y
Blood lipids Y

Biosample Assays

Variable type Variables generally collected
Plasma Y
Serum Y
Urine collection Y

Digital Phenotyping

Variable type Variables generally collected
Verbal memory Y
Colour Trails 2 Y
Animal Recall Y
Self-rated memory Y


Variable type Variables generally collected
Retinal imaging Y


Variable type Variables generally collected
APOE gene screening Y


Variable type Variables generally collected
CRP (c-reactive protein) Y
eGFR (estimated Glomular Filtration Rate) Y
Glucose Y
HbA1c Y
Lipids Y
Liver Function Tests Y
Serum creatinine Y