45 and Up Study: a rich data resource for researchers
rofessor Emily Banks, 45 and Up Study Scientific Director
Professor Emily Banks, 45 and Up Study Scientific Director

This article was orginally published in the OHMR Innovator newsletter.

The longitudinal Study, now in its 11th year, involves around one in every 10 NSW men and women aged 45 and over, who have agreed to share information about their health and lifestyle, and have it linked to their Medicare and PBS data, hospitalisation data and other health-related databases.

Earlier this year, one of our papers was published in BMC Medicine, providing the first large-scale direct evidence on smoking and mortality in Australia. The study found that up to two in every three current smokers in Australia would die from their habit if they continued to smoke.

There are currently 70 research projects using the Study data either approved or underway and more than 150 papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

The Study’s Scientific Director, Professor Emily Banks, said it was important for researchers to have access to such a large-scale research asset, because it eliminated the need to “reinvent the wheel” in participant recruitment. This represented large time and cost savings and supported researchers in conducting high-quality work that would yield faster answers to address important policy questions.

Researchers can now access the Study data securely and remotely through the Sax Institute’s Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE), a purpose-built virtual research laboratory that promotes large-scale data linkage studies and eliminates the need for researchers to store sensitive research data in their own computing environments.

The Sax Institute manages the 45 and Up Study in collaboration with major partner Cancer Council NSW; and partners: The National Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Division); NSW Ministry of Health; NSW Government Family & Community Services – Carers, Ageing and Disability Inclusion; and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.