Major longitudinal database on elderly Swedes available to researchers worldwide

10 July, 2014 in subject Okategoriserade

A new article by ARC social gerontologists in the International Journal of Epidemiology provides a detailed profile of the Swedish Panel Study of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (SWEOLD). This rich data resource allows researchers to study older adults’ health and living situation from middle age through the end of life in a group representative of an entire national population.
–We wrote the article to spread the word about this unique and high-quality data resource to the research community at large. SWEOLD data are available to researchers upon request, and we hope many will apply to use the information, says first author Carin Lennartsson.
SWEOLD is an ongoing interview study of people over the age of 75 in Sweden. Participants are representative of the entire population of the country; they come from both sexes, all socioeconomic groups, and every geographic region. Data are currently available for 1992, 2002, 2004, and 2011 and include information on a variety of health indicators (including functional capacity), Activities of Daily Living, health behavior, work history, family, leisure activities, use of health and social care services, socioeconomic factors, and the results of objective tests (lung function, physical function, and grip strength).
SWEOLD is unique for a variety of reasons, not least because it was conceived as a continuation of the Swedish Level of Living Survey, an ongoing, nationally representative interview study of living conditions in Sweden. The Level of Living Survey only includes people between the ages of 15 and 75, though, so SWEOLD takes over where it leaves off. Those who “graduate” from the Level of Living Survey typically continue to be interviewed in SWEOLD.
The Level of Living Survey has been underway for decades. It was launched in 1968—the year the Aswan Dam was completed in Egypt, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in the United States, and student protests spread worldwide. This means that a core group of SWEOLD participants has been interviewed at regular intervals for more than four decades, and that extensive, longitudinal interview data for many participants are available from midlife to the end of life.
Data not only cover a lengthy timespan; they are also unusually inclusive. The study encompasses people living in the community and those in institutions, and multiple interview methods have even made it possible to gather data on very frail and cognitively impaired participants in every wave. What’s more, SWEOLD data are linked to decades of information from other high-quality nationwide registers, such as the Swedish National Inpatient and Cause of Death registers.
–The SWEOLD study is still ongoing. In the fifth wave—set to begin this autumn—we will interview people age 70 and older, says Carin Lennartsson.
For more detail on SWEOLD and its research potential, see Data Resource Profile: The Swedish Panel of Living Conditions of the Oldest Old (SWEOLD). International Journal of Epidemiology, 2014, 1-8. Doi: 10.1093/ije/dyu057. To learn more about the research team behind the study and to apply for access to the data, see
Kimberly Kane