NICOLA Study Report: Key findings from WAVE 1

On Monday 27th November 2017, an event was held at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, to mark the launch of the Key Findings Report from Wave 1. 

The event was introduced by Professor James McElnay (Acting President and Vice Chancellor QUB). Other speakers included Professor Frank Kee (NICOLA Scientifc Director), Professor Ian Young(Chief Scientific Advisor HSC R&D), Dr Sharon Cruise (NICOLA Scientific Officer), Mr Eddie Lynch (Commissioner for Older People NI) and Ms Bernie Rooney (Director of Social Inclusion Policy Division, Department for Communities).
Over 140 people attended including representatives from government departments, the 3rd sector, NICOLA funders, academic researchers, NICOLA participants, local health trusts and team members from TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing), ELSA (The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) and HAGIS (Healthy Ageing in Scotland).

Dr Michael McBride (Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health) stated 'The promotion of active healthy ageing is a global challenge and one that is being grasped by all government departments. We have an Active Ageing Strategy that is designed to ensure that Northern Ireland is an age friendly region in which people, as they get older, are valued and supported to live actively to their fullest potential; with their rights respected and dignity protected. Over time, as NICOLA matures, its value to policy makers will increase as it sheds more light about the transitions that we will face as we age'.

Speaking of the results from Wave 1, Professor Frank Kee stated 'Overall, these initial results will become even richer when we follow up the cohort to find out about the life experiences our participants have had over the coming years. It is this unfolding of their lives, over time, which will vastly strengthen the power and policy relevance of this important resource'.

The key findings from Wave 1 of the NICOLA study can be read here.‌






 NICOLA Official Launch, 5th February 2014.




    Ministers Launch Northern Ireland’s Largest Ever Public Health Research Project


 Northern Ireland’s largest ever public health research project was launched today at Queen’s University by the Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann.  ‘NICOLA’ – the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Aging – is hoping provide the basis for future Government policy by following the lives of 8,500 over 50s as they grow older.  

 Participants in the Queen’s University-led project, which is supported by groups such as the Public Health Agency alongside the Commissioner for Older People of Northern Ireland, will be randomly selected from across Northern Ireland over the next 18-months.  The findings will leave a lasting legacy for society by enabling policy makers to base Government strategy upon research.

 Prof. Ian Young, Director of Queen’s Centre for Public Health, said:

 “Northern Ireland is undergoing an aging revolution.  Today there are more people aged under 16 than over 65.  By 2037 that will have completely reversed with predictions that there will be 122,000 more over 65s than under 16s.  That is an unprecedented change in our society and we need to start planning for it.

 “For the first time ‘NICOLA’ will give policy makers in Northern Ireland the same level of information as their counterparts in Great Britain and Ireland, and it will help shape at least ten major Government policies.  ‘NICOLA’ will help us change the way we live for the better and those participating in the study will leave a tangible legacy for future generations.”

NICOLA consists of three stages, an interview conducted in the home, a questionnaire and a health assessment which will take place at the new Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility at Belfast City Hospital.  The assessments, completed by registered nurses, will include blood pressure readings, brain function (thinking) tests, blood sample collection and a detailed eye examination using equipment not available elsewhere in Northern Ireland.  Follow-up interviews will be conducted every two years.

 Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, said:

“Between 1982 and 2062 it’s estimated that the proportion of over 50s will double to 55% of the total population.  That’s an unprecedented demographic change that will have major ramifications for society.  Meeting the challenges and opportunities of this change means basing good policy on good research – information which Northern Ireland currently lacks”.

“NICOLA provides an opportunity to ensure that we are prepared to meet the needs of an aging population.  Apart from benefiting from a more detailed insight into their own health and wellbeing, people taking part in NICOLA will provide society with a treasure trove of data that will aid future generations.  This is an incredibly worthwhile initiative and I encourage everyone randomly selected to seriously consider getting involved.”

 Over the next few weeks the first potential participants in NICOLA will be contacted by letter and then approached by representatives from Ipsos MORI, the leading market research company which Queen’s University has appointed to conduct the home interviews.  Everyone involved with NICOLA will carry ID clearly identifying their role with the project.

The 8,500 participants have been randomly selected from a data base provided by Northern Ireland’s Health & Social Care Board.  Participation is entirely voluntary and all data collected by NICOLA will remain confidential.  Researchers will not have access to personal information.

It is expected that all participants will complete the home interview and health assessment by April 2015.  The first findings from the study are due in 2015.