MRC LHA & NSHD > Study members

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Welcome to the website for study members of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development


The MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) is the longest-running study of its kind in the world.

It began as a maternity survey, run by Dr James Douglas, of mothers who gave birth in England, Wales and Scotland in one week in March 1946. The survey then turned to the babies themselves, who have been followed ever since; through infancy, through school, into adulthood, across midlife, and now into later life.

The study has always addressed wide-ranging questions of relevance for policy as well as for science: from development to ageing; from physical health to mental health; from home and school to work, retirement and daily activities; and from emerging personality and temperament to adult hopes and life assessments.

The study members, the ‘Douglas children’, are the story. By contributing to the study all of their lives, their investment has allowed the study to become what is often referred to as a jewel, a priceless and powerful source of knowledge about the ways in which experiences earlier in life can affect later life outcomes. The MRC has funded the study since 1962 and continues to do so because it is regarded as a national scientific asset.


From paediatrics to geriatrics

Prof Diana Kuh, who has worked for the NSHD for the last 30 years and led as director for 10 years, has published a personal opinion piece. This includes a short description into Diana's background, a history of the NSHD from the 4th decade onwards and the challenges for the NSHD and life course epidemiology, both now and in the future.


Participation in data collections

The first of the papers from the most recent home visit is now in press. Here, we report on the participation patterns for the NSHD study members at this most recent collection, which consisted of a postal questionnaire sent to the remaining participants in 2014 and a nurse visiting their home in 2015/16. We investigated how participation varied by a number of previous factors, including prior contact at earlier ages, health status and study engagement. Participation remained high overall, and it appears to be favourably influenced by activities that foster study engagement. These findings will help to maintain participation in lifelong studies.


Neuroscience Clinical Sub-Study

So far over 250 study members have taken part in the neuroscience clinical sub-study. Taking part requires study members to travel to a London clinic so the research team and specialist clinical collaborators can carry out more detailed tests that cannot be done at home. We are very grateful to all those who have already taken part. More invitations will be sent out to study members throughout 2017.