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Multinational Advancement of Research Infrastructures on Ageing

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A multinational ageing study

Addressing the challenges of the ageing population is a priority in Europe. A multinational project has established a harmonised database of information on this group.

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The EU-funded project 'Multinational advancement of research infrastructures on ageing' (SHARE_M4) was unique and innovative for three reasons. First, the survey was harmonised across all 20 participating countries, allowing for comparisons of the effects of the different health and welfare systems throughout Europe. Second, SHARE_M4 was multidisciplinary and filled an important research vacuum — the interaction between health and socioeconomic factors. Third, the project was longitudinal; the same individuals were interviewed over time so that their individual ageing processes and their responses to ongoing social and political changes could be understood. The main challenges of managing SHARE_M4 were keeping a well-balanced, comparable survey in all countries and creating a harmonised database. Therefore, during this wave, partners focused on five areas: central design of the questionnaire, especially in the development of new modules; central database management, dissemination and archiving; central training for interviewers, user outreach, training and feedback; software development; and coordination and communication. SHARE_M4 made progress in all five areas. Conceptual revisions to the questionnaire were made, resulting in a pilot study and pre-test. An important part of the revision was a thorough analysis of the length of the interviews, with the goal of keeping the overall time steady. In addition, a short scale was introduced to assess the five dominant factors of personality. The hope is to perform future analyses integrating measures of personality, a promising avenue in ageing research. The team also devised a module for collecting blood samples. Other accomplishments included releasing data from previous SHARE_M4 waves and ensuring consistency among them; initiating a train-the-trainer concept; improving software tools; and facilitating daily online communication. At project-end, the team fielded data from the pilot and pre-test. The data are unique in that they include information on time use and well-being, as well as blood samples. It is unclear, however, when the data will be released as preparation of the database is still ongoing.

Keywords

Ageing, harmonised database, research infrastructures, health, socioeconomic factors

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