Desperately Seeking Long-Lost Volunteers
posted on: Nov 1, 2007
Organisers of one of Scotland's most significant, long-term health studies are appealing to ‘lost' volunteers to get in touch with them in time to be included in the final stage of this important 20-year study.
The Twenty-07 Health in the Community Study, set up in 1986 by the Medical Research Council, is investigating differences in people's health by looking at factors such as income, where people live, age, sex and family background. A total of 4,510 people drawn from three different generations volunteered to take part, and the first survey took place in 1987 when volunteers were 15, 35 and 55 years old and lived in the central Clydeside conurbation.
Research nurses have now started on the final phase of the survey, and are interviewing the original volunteers who are still in touch with the Study. At the same time, Study organisers are focusing their efforts on getting in touch with as many of the original volunteers as possible, and are appealing to anyone who was previously part of the study but who has lost touch to contact them immediately.
Findings from the study are expected to provide scientists with a unique opportunity to work out how changes in people's lives over a period of time affect their health. Although the study is still on-going, data collected during earlier stages have already produced some important findings. For example, the study has shown that older people living in deprived areas are more likely to suffer from mental illness than younger people in these areas; that a young person's decision to start smoking is influenced more by their friends than their family; that while men are more physically active than women during middle age as a result of their work activities, this drops significantly when they retire; and that during the 1990s people's diets improved towards recommended healthy eating targets, although most people still did not achieve them all.
"2007 is the final stage in this major 20-year study and we're really keen to have as many of our original volunteers on board as we can, which is why we're making this appeal," explained Twenty-07 Study Director, Michaela Benzeval. "We believe that some of our lost volunteers will have moved so if anyone reading this article was involved in the study in the past, or knows someone else who was, can they please get in touch with us."