Send to

Choose Destination
Maturitas. 2013 Oct;76(2):189-99. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.07.007. Epub 2013 Aug 7.

Towards measurement of the Healthy Ageing Phenotype in lifestyle-based intervention studies.

Author information

Human Nutrition Research Centre, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Given the biological complexity of the ageing process, there is no single, simple and reliable measure of how healthily someone is ageing. Intervention studies need a panel of measures which capture key features of healthy ageing. To help guide our research in this area, we have adopted the concept of the "Healthy Ageing Phenotype" (HAP) and this study aimed to (i) identify the most important features of the HAP and (ii) identify/develop tools for measurement of those features.


After a comprehensive assessment of the literature we selected the following domains: physiological and metabolic health, physical capability, cognitive function, social wellbeing, and psychological wellbeing which we hoped would provide a reasonably holistic characterisation of the HAP. We reviewed the literature and identified systematic reviews and/or meta-analysis of cohort studies, and clinical guidelines on outcome measures of these domains relevant to the HAP. Selection criteria for these measures included: frequent use in longitudinal studies of ageing; expected to change with age; evidence for strong association with/prediction of ageing-related phenotypes such as morbidity, mortality and lifespan; whenever possible, focus on studies measuring these outcomes in populations rather than on individuals selected on the basis of a particular disease; (bio)markers that respond to (lifestyle-based) intervention. Proposed markers were exposed to critique in a Workshop held in Newcastle, UK in October 2012.


We have selected a tentative panel of (bio)markers of physiological and metabolic health, physical capability, cognitive function, social wellbeing, and psychological wellbeing which we propose may be useful in characterising the HAP and which may have utility as outcome measures in intervention studies. In addition, we have identified a number of tools which could be applied in community-based intervention studies designed to enhance healthy ageing.


We have proposed, tentatively, a panel of outcome measures which could be deployed in community-based, lifestyle intervention studies. The evidence base for selection of measurement domains is less well developed in some areas e.g. social wellbeing (where the definition of the concept itself remains elusive) and this has implications for the identification of appropriate tools. Although we have developed this panel as potential outcomes for intervention studies, we recognise that broader agreement on the concept of the HAP and on tools for its measurement could have wider utility and e.g. could facilitate comparisons of healthy ageing across diverse study designs and populations.


Cognitive function; Healthy Ageing Phenotype; Physical capability; Physiological and metabolic health; Psychological wellbeing; Social wellbeing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center