The Feasibility of Collecting Physical Measures and Biomarkers in Cross-National Studies

Mary Beth Ofstedal, University of Michigan
Heidi Guyer, University of Michigan
Carli Lessof, National Centre for Social Research
Kate Cox, National Centre for Social Research

Two new and innovative trends are changing the face of population-based studies of health and ageing: the integration of physical measures and biomarkers into large-scale population surveys, and cross-national survey collaborations. Using three longitudinal studies of middle-aged and older adults as examples, we discuss the processes, benefits and challenges involved in physical measure and biomarker data collection in cross-national studies. The surveys include the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the U.S., the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA); and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which spans fourteen countries. The paper focuses on different aspects of the collection of physical measures and biomarkers: collection protocols, personnel used to collect the measures, standardization of training, and information provided to respondents. Additionally, we present data on cooperation rates for the physical measures and biomarkers across countries, as well as interviewer variability on several of the key measures.

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Presented in Session 129: Demographic Studies Based on Biomarkers