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Research into 21st Century Living

Have you seen the TV series ‘21st Century  Child’ whereby the cameras are following a number of children from babyhood all the way up along their lives partly for research purposes and partly to interest and entertain us. A recent episode showed the children reaching school age and how they all dealt with the upheaval of starting school in the 21st century.
It seems that it isn’t just children in the 21st century that are of interest in terms of research.  Those over 50 are going to be a subject of research too, although it seems their lives will not be filmed for television. Northern Ireland’s largest every public health project has just been launched, named the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA), it will research the lives of 8,500 volunteers and the results will be used to decide on future government policy. All persons taking part have to be over 50 years.
The project will involve attending Belfast City Hospital for a number of assessments to include blood pressure readings, brain function tests, blood samples and eye examinations.  Follow up interviews will happen every two years.
People cannot volunteer to get involved. 12,000 households will be randomly selected from which the 8,500 volunteers will be chosen.  The aim is to assist older people live a more healthy lifestyle and the research will inform their future decisions; it won’t be televised or recorded in any way either.
It will be interesting to see how Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland) make use of the findings in terms of changing future policies. All research is good as long as the results are acted upon. Would you like to participate in something like this if it was near you? Will you be interested to hear the results when the first findings are released in 2015? Or do you think we are becoming too obsessed with research and just need to get on with the task in hand?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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