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BMC Public Health. 2018 Jan 19;18(1):158. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5031-7.

MINDMAP: establishing an integrated database infrastructure for research in ageing, mental well-being, and the urban environment.

Author information

Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, P.O. Box 2040, 3000, CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada.
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.
University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, P.O. Box 2040, 3000, CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.
Inserm, UMR_S 1136, Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, Paris, France.
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR_S 1136, Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, Paris, France.
Epidemiology Unit, ASL TO3, Piedmont Region, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy.
Department of Clinical and Biological Science, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
Geriatrics Centre, Scientific Department at the University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Albertinen-Haus, Hamburg, Germany.
Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
HUNT Research Centre, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Levanger, Norway.
Levanger Hospital, Nord-Trøndelag Hospital Trust, Levanger, Norway.
Population Research Unit, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Urbanization and ageing have important implications for public mental health and well-being. Cities pose major challenges for older citizens, but also offer opportunities to develop, test, and implement policies, services, infrastructure, and interventions that promote mental well-being. The MINDMAP project aims to identify the opportunities and challenges posed by urban environmental characteristics for the promotion and management of mental well-being and cognitive function of older individuals.


MINDMAP aims to achieve its research objectives by bringing together longitudinal studies from 11 countries covering over 35 cities linked to databases of area-level environmental exposures and social and urban policy indicators. The infrastructure supporting integration of this data will allow multiple MINDMAP investigators to safely and remotely co-analyse individual-level and area-level data. Individual-level data is derived from baseline and follow-up measurements of ten participating cohort studies and provides information on mental well-being outcomes, sociodemographic variables, health behaviour characteristics, social factors, measures of frailty, physical function indicators, and chronic conditions, as well as blood derived clinical biochemistry-based biomarkers and genetic biomarkers. Area-level information on physical environment characteristics (e.g. green spaces, transportation), socioeconomic and sociodemographic characteristics (e.g. neighbourhood income, residential segregation, residential density), and social environment characteristics (e.g. social cohesion, criminality) and national and urban social policies is derived from publically available sources such as geoportals and administrative databases. The linkage, harmonization, and analysis of data from different sources are being carried out using piloted tools to optimize the validity of the research results and transparency of the methodology.


MINDMAP is a novel research collaboration that is combining population-based cohort data with publicly available datasets not typically used for ageing and mental well-being research. Integration of various data sources and observational units into a single platform will help to explain the differences in ageing-related mental and cognitive disorders both within as well as between cities in Europe, the US, Canada, and Russia and to assess the causal pathways and interactions between the urban environment and the individual determinants of mental well-being and cognitive ageing in older adults.


Ageing; Cohort studies; Data integration; Database; Mental well-being; Urban health

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