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Table 1 Overview of commonalities and differences across study samples and consent procedures

From: Analysis of four studies in a comparative framework reveals: health linkage consent rates on British cohort studies higher than on UK household panel surveys

  Cohort studies Household panel studies
NSHD NCDS BHPS UKHLS
Study team MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing National Birthday Trust Fund/Centre for Longitudinal Studies UK Longitudinal Studies Centre Understanding Society
Funder MRC National Birthday Trust Fund and ESRC ESRC ESRC, Department for Health, and others
Start year of the study 1946 1958 1991 2009/2010
Scope GB GB GB until 2001, then UK UK
Sample description Born in a specific week, mainly British White Born in a specific week, mainly British White Cross-section of resident population in 1991, additional regional boosts Cross-section of resident population in 2009/10, additional ethnic minority boost
Mode of interview Postal survey with follow-up home/clinic visit Face to face interview Face to face interview Face to face interview
Follow-up sequence At specific points in time At specific points in time Annually Annually
Health-related content in survey Most Some Some A little1
Number of sweeps before     
biomarkers collected None None 182 1
consent asked 22 7 182 None
Study advance letter includes references to health record linkage No3 Yes Yes No
Consent asked by No-one if postal survey only, else by research nurse Trained interviewer Trained interviewer Trained interviewer
Information leaflet about linkage No3 Yes, provided in the interview Yes, sent in advance Yes, provided in the interview
Specific types of health data mentioned GP records; Hospital records Hospital records; GP records; prescriptions NHS Central Register data; Hospital records; prescriptions; GP records NHS Central Register data; Hospital records
  1. Notes:
  2. 1The UKHLS questionnaire collected a large number of subjective well-being indicators and health-related behaviours such as quality of sleep but did not collect information on use of health services as this information would be available through linkage from wave 1 onward.
  3. 2Consents were first asked in 2008, this was wave 18 for the original BHPS sample, wave 10 for the additional boost samples in Scotland and Wales (which started in 1999) and wave 8 for the additional boost sample in Northern Ireland (which started in 2001).
  4. 3This is explained by the fact that there were no explicit plans for health record linkage on the NSHD.