ELSA 50+ Health and Life

We're carrying out this research to find out more about the lives of people in this influential age group.

As the population in England is ageing adults above the age of 50 are increasing by the year. We're carrying out this research to find out more about the lives of people in this influential age group.

About the study

ELSA is unique. We are the only major study in England talking to people from 50,
right up to 100 years old and beyond, at the same time. We go back to the same people every few years, to help us understand in detail how things are changing for people in this age group.

The research is funded by a number of UK government departments coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research, and the National Institute on Aging in the United States. Funding has also been provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Reports analysing each new wave of data are published on the ELSA project website. The data is also used by other researchers and academics to write journal articles, which you can also find on the ELSA project website.

Make your voice heard

People aged 50 and over account for half of the nation's spending and three quarters of the nation's wealth, so it’s important the Government listens to your opinions and experiences.

Change over time

We’d like to find out how your life is changing. This allows us to collect really useful information about changes in your health, social life, finances and relationships.

Be part of a bigger picture 

ELSA isn’t the only study of people aged 50 and over, there are others in America, Europe, India and China. We hope you take part in ELSA; if you do, you’ll be contributing to an international effort to understand later life and what it means for people. 

Meet the ELSA team

A number of organisations work together to run ELSA and analyse the information you give us. As well as the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), they are:

ELSA helps to build a picture of ageing in England. Government, charities, and academics use ELSA data when thinking about policies and initiatives for people aged 50 and over. This includes things like work, pensions, and healthcare which could affect you and your family.

Why take part?

Your contribution makes a big difference

Your participation in the study is really important to ensure the research findings are reliable and contribute effectively to future decision-making. Participation is completely voluntary, however, so it is up to you. If you do take part, you can change your mind at any time, and choose not to answer any questions that you prefer not to. We know your time is precious, but our work really does make a difference. We help government and charities to make the right decisions about the big issues. 

A token of our appreciation

As a thank you for taking part, we'll give you a £20 gift card or an e-voucher which you can use at a range of high street shops. Please see a list of retailers where you could use your Love2Shop gift card here

How ELSA has made a difference

Staying sharp

ELSA discovered that smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure aren’t just bad for your physical health. They also affect how sharp your mind is in later life. Organisations like Alzheimer’s Research UK are using this information to support their campaigning work.

Don’t worry, be happy

Data from ELSA has shown that simply enjoying life can have a positive effect on life expectancy.

Help us understand how the world's population is ageing 

Our findings from ELSA are often compared against the results of similar studies elsewhere in the world, such as ChinaEurope and North America.

ELSA 50+ Memory and Thinking

How does our memory and thinking change as we get older?

ELSA 50+ Memory and Thinking is a special additional part of ELSA 50+ Health and Life, looking at how people’s memory and thinking changes as they get older.

Some ELSA participants aged 65 and over will be invited to take part in this interview in 2023.

Read more about ELSA 50+ Memory and Thinking.

Why have I been chosen?

Why we’ve gotten in touch with you

You’ve been selected to take part in ELSA 50+ Health and Life because either you’ve already taken part in ELSA, or because you've taken part in the Health Survey for England or the Family Resources Survey and at the time, you kindly agreed to us contacting you again.

The great thing about interviewing the same people again is that we can link to information collected already to get even more value out of the survey.

Even if you've been asked to take part in the past and have said no, we'd love you to take part now.

Why you’re so important to us

You can’t be replaced by anyone else, as this would bias the results and we need to speak to as many people as possible in order to have enough information to make the survey meaningful.

In 2023 ELSA is celebrating a 20th anniversary. Over the past 20 years, the study has allowed us to dispel some of the myths about ageing and helped us to uncover some serious and pressing issues affecting our ageing population. Thank you to all our participants to date for their continued support which has made this 20-year milestone possible and thanks in advance to our existing and new participants for your continued support to help us to ensure ELSA remains such a vital source of data on ageing in England. 

Please click here to view a special anniversary film with key members of the ELSA research team as well as some of our wonderful ELSA participants

We want to hear from everyone

It’s really important to us and our funders and collaborators that our research represents the views of everyone aged 50 and over living in England.

We want to speak to people from all walks of life. You might be retired, unemployed or still working nine to five. You could live alone or have a large family. You might be struggling financially or comfortably off. You could be feeling fit and healthy or dealing with health problems.

Whatever your situation is, your experiences are important to us.

What's involved?

Interviewer contact

Once you have received a letter from us, one of our interviewers will telephone or visit you to invite you to take part and, if you agree, arrange a convenient time to do the interview.

We understand that you may be busy, so we’ll organise the interview at a time that suits you. The interview can during the evening or at a weekend if you wish. The interview will take place at your home but if you would prefer, we can arrange the interview via video call. 

The interview

Your interviewer will ask you about a range of topics, such as the activities you enjoy, your financial situation and pension arrangements, your health and any work you do.

If you have taken part previously we will also ask you to update information you gave us last time you were interviewed, to see if and how your life has changed.

And don’t worry – you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, we can just skip on to the next one.

Paper questionnaire

In addition to the interview you will be asked to complete a paper questionnaire. This should take around 15-20 minutes to complete. You can fill this out during your face-to-face interview and hand the completed questionnaire back to your interviewer. Or if you prefer, you can return it to us later in a provided prepaid return envelope. 

No need to prepare

There’s no need to prepare for the interview. You don’t need any special knowledge, we just want to ask you some general questions about your daily life. Most people agree to be interviewed and enjoy taking part.

Have you been asked to do the interview on behalf of someone else?

If someone has been selected to take part in the survey but is unable to do the interview, you may have been asked to complete the interview on their behalf. 

Usually, they will have asked you to do this for them, but if they aren't able to do this we may ask you to assess whether the person would wish to take part in the study if they were able to. 

Every person we invite to take part in ELSA is really important, including people who aren't able to take part on their own. 

ELSA W11 Showcards

Click here to download the showcards (pdf).

ELSA 50+ Health Visit

How does your health impact ageing?

The ELSA 50+ health visit is a vital part of ELSA 50+ Health and Life. Every few years we will ask if you’d like to be interviewed by one of our biomedical fieldworkers. They will take some measurements, like your height, weight and blood pressure.

Our biomedical fieldworkers will also ask you if you’d be happy to give us a blood sample. We use these blood samples to test for useful indicators of health such as the amount of sugar and cholesterol in the blood. 

If you like, we can send the results of these tests to both you and your GP. This is entirely up to you.

You can choose whether you receive a visit from one of our biomedical fieldworkers. If you do take part, the biomedical fieldworker will explain each measurement and you can decide which measurements you wish to have taken.

Read more about the health visit (pdf).

If you already have a health visit appointment booked, you can check what you can do to prepare here (pdf). 

Latest news and findings

Click here to discover the latest findings and what the ELSA team is up to.

You can also read our latest newsletter here (PDF). 


In this privacy notice, we explain the legal basis for data processing, who will have access to your personal data, how your data will be used, stored and deleted and who you can contact with a query or a complaint.

Read more about our privacy policy.

Linking data 

Visit the ELSA website for more information about data we would like to link to your questionnaire answers.

How to get in touch?

If you have changed your contact details recently, or have any questions, please let us know by emailing us at elsa@natcen.ac.uk or calling free on 0800 652 4574 (opening times are Monday to Thursday 09:00 to 20:00, Friday 09:00 to 17:00 and Saturday 10:00 to 16:00).