Queen’s University has launched Northern Ireland’s largest ever public health research project - and plans to select 199 participants from the Ballymoney area.
‘NICOLA’ – the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing – is hoping to provide the basis for future Government policy by following the lives of 8,500 over 50s across Northern Ireland as they grow older.
Officially announced by the Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann, the project was launched this week at Queen’s University.
Participants in the Queen’s University-led project, supported by groups including the Public Health Agency and 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 on research.
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.
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 database 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.