Cohort profile: the Northern Ireland cohort for the longitudinal study of ageing (NICOLA)

Charlotte Neville*, Frances Burns, Sharon Cruise, Angela Scott, Dermot O'Reilly, Frank Kee, Ian Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Key Features

• The Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA) is Northern Ireland’s largest health and social care cohort collecting longitudinal data from a representative sample of the over-50s population.

•8283 participants aged ≥50 years and living in private residential accommodation were recruited, from a randomized, stratified sample of Northern Ireland addresses, to the Wave 1 cohort between December 2013 and March 2016. A follow-up (Wave 2) of the cohort took place between May 2017 and November 2019, with a response rate of 73% (n = 6152).

•NICOLA participants will undertake a detailed survey, in their own home, every 2 years with a detailed health assessment every 4 years.

•The NICOLA data set comprises a diverse range of objective and subjective measures of physical and mental health, life expectancy, disability, education, economic activity, social participation and support, household and family structures; and uniquely to NICOLA, the effects of ‘the Troubles’, a detailed ophthalmological assessment and a dietary assessment. Inclusion of unique measures allows analysis of the social and contextual influences on the distribution of health status determinants particular to Northern Ireland.

•The collection of data via subjective reporting in interviews and self-completion methodologies combined with objective measurement of health and wellbeing allows detailed analysis of the ageing profiles.

•The NICOLA cohort is flagged on the National Health Applications Infrastructure Service to enable robust and comprehensive linkage for identification of participant outcomes and affecting factors.

•The harmonization of health status measures with other ageing cohorts allows cross cohort comparative analysis, those of particular relevance being the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (England) and The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (Republic of Ireland). Comparability of NICOLA to other ageing studies will also be enabled via the Gateway to Global Aging Data (G2G) and with NICOLA data being archived within the Dementias Platform UK (

•Access to the anonymized data is by direct application to the NICOLA study (

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdyad026
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Early online date03 Apr 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 03 Apr 2023


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