Longitudinal studies of ageing

Date Published:
02 May 2019
Last updated: 
02 May 2019

Longitudinal studies of ageing. An online themed collection of  Age and Ageing journal articles.

Curated by Prof Finbarr Martin and Prof Román Romero Ortuño

‘Time is the best diagnostician’: who has not thought this? In clinical practice, presentations are often subtle and decisions made in the face of a ‘snapshot.’ Crystal balls do not exist; yet, insights from longitudinal studies can help to recognise emerging pictures and anticipate health trajectories.

In the multifactorial, biopsychosocial world of geriatrics, the determinants of those trajectories, and hence opportunities to modify them, can be better understood through careful longitudinal disentangling of the wider determinants of health, and this can be done at multiple levels of analysis, from molecules to society. With this collection and commentary, we highlight the approaches, scope and impacts of a selection of longitudinal studies of ageing published in Age and Ageing within the past 10 years.

Longitudinal studies can illuminate disease mechanisms, how declines in multiple domains of intrinsic capacity interact, how losses in one domain may influence the path of another, and in turn, how these changes translate to functional disability, or not. Observing trajectories of geriatric syndromes can suggest opportunities for optimisation and prevention in clinical practice and policy. With global opportunities for harmonising data, longitudinal studies are already offering the opportunity for cross-national comparisons and for developing hypotheses about the relative contributions of time, place, and society in the trajectories of frailty, disability and quality of life. We also include studies which show how research-based longitudinal data can be synthesised or be linked to administrative data sets. We hope you find this collection as interesting and encouraging as we have. Read on!

Prof Finbarr Martin
Prof Román Romero Ortuño

The Collection

  1. A limit to frailty in very old, community-dwelling people: a secondary analysis of the Chinese longitudinal health and longevity study.
    Stephanie Bennett, Xiaowei Song, Arnold Mitnitski, et al. Age and Ageing: 2012: 42(3): 372-377.
  2. Predicting late-life disability and death by the rate of decline in physical performance measures.
    Hirsch CH, Buzková P, Robbins JA, et al. Age and Ageing. 2012;41(2):155-61.
  3. Living with urinary incontinence: a longitudinal study of older women.
    Byles J, Millar CJ, Sibbritt DW, et al. Age and Ageing. 2009;38(3):333-8; discussion 251.
  4. Tracking changes in frailty throughout later life: results from a 17-year longitudinal study in the Netherlands.
    Emiel O Hoogendijk, Kenneth Rockwood, Olga Theou, et al. Age and Ageing: 2018: 47(5): 727-733.
  5. Temporal trends in impairments of physical function among older adults during 2001-16 in Sweden: towards a healthier ageing.
    Santoni G, Angleman SB, Ek S, et al. Age and Ageing. 2018;47(5):698-704.
  6. Does baseline hypotension predict incident depression in a cohort of community-dwelling older people? Data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).
    Robert Briggs, Rose Anne Kenny, Sean P Kennelly. Age and Ageing: 2017: 46(4): 648-653.
  7. Visual and hearing impairments are associated with cognitive decline in older people.
    Maharani A, Dawes P, Nazroo J, et al. Age and Ageing. 2018: 47 (4): 575-581.
  8. Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline in adults aged 50 and over: a population-based cohort study.
    Dregan A, Stewart R, Gulliford MC. Age and Ageing. 2013;42(3):338-45.
  9. The risk of overweight/obesity in mid-life and late life for the development of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.
    Emilio Pedditizi, Ruth Peters, Nigel Beckett. Age and Ageing: 2016: 45(1): 12-21.
  10. Health, social and lifestyle factors in entry to residential aged care: an Australian longitudinal analysis.
    Hal Kendig, Colette Browning, Robert Pedlow, et al. Age and Ageing: 2010: 39 (3) 342-349.
  11. The impact of social vulnerability on the survival of the fittest older adults.
    Andrew MK, Mitnitski A, Kirkland SA, et al. Age and Ageing. 2012;41(2):161-5.
  12. Inequalities in health at older ages: a longitudinal investigation of the onset of illness and survival effects in England.
    Anne McMunn, James Nazroo, Elizabeth Breeze. Age and Ageing. 2008: 38 (2):181-187.
  13. Social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for the progression of frailty: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
    Catharine R Gale, Leo Westbury, Cyrus Cooper. Age and Ageing. 2018: 47 (3): 392–397.
  14. APOE and ACE polymorphisms and dementia risk in the older population over prolonged follow-up: 10 years of incidence in the MRC CFA Study.
    Keage HA, Matthews FE, Yip A, et al. Age and Ageing. 2010;39(1):104-11.
  15. Understanding NHS hospital admissions in England: linkage of Hospital Episode Statistics to the Hertfordshire Cohort Study.
    Simmonds SJ, Syddall HE, Walsh B, et al. Age and Ageing. 2014;43(5):653-60.


Browse the full library of themed collections on the Age and Ageing website.

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