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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Oct;58 Suppl 2:S287-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.02916.x.

An overview of the design, implementation, and analyses of longitudinal studies on aging.

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Center for Aging and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Longitudinal studies have contributed substantially to understanding of aging and geriatric syndromes. These efforts have provided a base of knowledge of the critical factors to consider in designing and implementing new longitudinal studies in older adults. This review highlights some of the major considerations in planning and implementing this type of study. Longitudinal studies can assess change over time and specific disease endpoints. Such projects require multidisciplinary teams with expertise in the many health and contextual factors that must be considered. Recent advances in study design include the use of imaging and biomarkers to assess mechanisms and approaches that raise the ceiling on measurement and integrate assessment of exposures over time. Study implementation requires careful planning and monitoring to maintain fidelity to the scientific goals. Analysis of longitudinal data requires approaches that account for inevitable missing data. New studies should take advantage of the experience obtained from longitudinal studies on aging already conducted.


data analysis; longitudinal studies; observational studies; study design

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