Our longitudinal research into childhood development and old age is helping Government at the national and local level improve child outcomes and plan for an ageing population.
Our researchers work on two important large-scale longitudinal studies, Growing up in Scotland, known as GUS and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, or ELSA.
Longitudinal research helps us understand how a group of people develop and change over a long time. We’ve been carrying out GUS and ELSA for more than a decade and as a result our researchers are expert at building strong relationships with participants, staying in touch with them when they move and getting the most out of the huge amounts of data we collect.
Our GUS interviewers are in regular contact with up to 6,000 children. The data we collect is very detailed and is used by the Scottish Government to develop and monitor the success of their policies and services for children and families.
Amongst other things, we measure children’s language ability and problem-solving skills and we’ve developed self-complete questionnaires for older children which included audio-support to help those children who struggle with reading.
Exploring the other end of the age spectrum is the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing or ELSA. Over 10,000 people aged 50+ take part and the study helps the Government plan how public services will cope with the needs of an ageing population.
We’ve developed special techniques to make sure we get really accurate information from participants. For example, a life history tool used key events, like the moon landing in 1969, to prompt people’s memories about what was happening to them at the time. We have also asked some participants to wear an activity monitor to measure how much physical activity they do.