Frequently asked questions
How can we access the data?
The Catalogue does not provide access to data. Each study on the Catalogue has its own data access policies and procedures. Some studies have their data available to download from their study site, or UK Data Service. Meanwhile, other studies require that you apply on their website to use their data. Some data will be free to access, but some studies may charge a small fee. To find out more about how to access a study’s data, head to the ‘Data Access’ section of the study page.
It is important to remember that the studies you see on the Catalogue may be in the process of collecting data and these will not be ready to share yet. We keep the Catalogue as up to date as possible by including the mental health measures used at the most recent sweeps.
Does the Catalogue provide information on factors that put people at risk for mental health problems?
The Catalogue does not include information on risk factors for mental health problems, as it focuses on providing detailed information about mental health and wellbeing measures.
Whilst we don’t include risk factors, many of the studies on the Catalogue do have measures of biological and social risk factors for mental health problems. To find out which studies include measures of this kind (for example, loneliness, genetic propensity, poverty) alongside mental health, you can use the ‘related measures’ filters on the search page. We include this feature to narrow down your searches, but do not provide details on the measures of risk factors.
What if my search doesn’t bring up any studies?
If your initial search doesn’t get any results – don’t worry! We have some top tips to find exactly what you are looking for.
First, it is good to try altering the terminology you use in your search or try using synonyms. Especially if you are looking for a topic that may be less commonly measured. For example, if you are looking for binge eating disorder, it is better to search for the disorder itself, rather than specific symptoms, such as ‘vomiting’ or ‘over-eating’. Using different terminology will improve your search.
To find the most accurate terminology to use, we recommend checking the list of mental health topics covered by the Catalogue. These are located under the ‘mental health topics’ page. It is a good idea to check here if the disorder you are looking for is covered in the Catalogue before you search for it.
The search engine will allow you to look for mental health and wellbeing topics, instruments, or studies only. If you are looking for related topics, you can use the filters.
If you need any help, or still can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if a study I am searching for isn’t included on the Catalogue?
The studies on the Catalogue are those which we have focused on so far.
The Catalogue has a specific inclusion criterion. To be included, studies need to:
Have collected/plan to collect data at multiple time points
Include measures of mental health and/or wellbeing
Have at least 200 participants at the first data point
We are always on the lookout for new studies to add to the Catalogue. If you think you know a study that meets our criteria, but is not listed, please get in touch! Email us at email@example.com.
Can I determine from the Catalogue the best measure to use for my research project?
There are strengths and possible limitations to all the measures on the Catalogue. Because of this, and the wide range of mental health topics covered, it is best for you as a researcher to decide which ones will fit the needs and aims of your project best.
The Catalogue provides detail on both standard and non-standard measures, so there are many options to choose from. The Catalogue includes a range of standard instruments, like the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which you can look for on the search page. It also has fine grained detail on each measure, both standard and non-standard. You can find these on each study’s timeline, where you can search for specific measures and take the ones you require.
To help you, there is a ‘common measures of mental health’ page on the Catalogue. This will give you a summary of the most widely used standard instruments featuring on the Catalogue. We recommend using this to find details about these popular instruments. To find out more, researchers are encouraged to use the reference papers listed under each instrument.
How did you decide which measures would be listed on the Catalogue?
The Catalogue serves as a resource to give a wide view of the data already collected, maintaining a focus on mental health and wellbeing. Within this context, the Catalogue includes measures of:
Indicators of mental health problems, including symptoms, behaviours, and reports of diagnoses
Impairment as a result of mental health problems
Treatment, service use and help-seeking behaviour
To cover all bases, the Catalogue includes standard and non-standard measures. However, these measures must be specific to mental health or wellbeing. Furthermore, maintaining this focus, the Catalogue does not include measures of neurocognitive disorders, cognition, or risk factors.
Criteria for inclusion in the Catalogue does not just depend on measures of mental health. Head to the ‘background’ and ‘gathering the information’ pages to find out how we decide which longitudinal studies to include.
Does the Catalogue include qualitative measures?
Most of the measures on the Catalogue are quantitative, but a small number of studies do include qualitative measures, which we list on the Catalogue. These are easily identifiable.
You can use the filters under ‘complementary data’ to identify studies that have qualitative and/or observational data. The Catalogue will not show you exactly what qualitative information has been collected, but you can easily find out more by searching for study papers, or using the study websites.
If you need to find studies that include examples of qualitative measures in sweeps, you can use the search engine to find these. Just search “qualitative measures”.
What is the HDR UK Gateway and why is it linked to the Catalogue?
The Health Data Research (HDR) UK Innovation Gateway is the UK’s National Institute for Health Data Science, bringing together many different types of health data all in one place. It is a common entry point for researchers and innovators to discover UK health-related datasets. The Gateway provides detailed information about each dataset, and these are not specific to mental health. You can find all sorts of datasets here.
The Gateway does not provide access to data, but it does act as a portal to help you find health datasets that exist in the UK, so you can easily discover this data and decide if it is helpful to your research. It also provides health data resources such as research projects and publications.
On some study pages of the Catalogue, you will see the HDR Gateway logo, which you can click on. This will take you to the study page on the Gateway. The Catalogue and the Gateway both provide in-depth detail about a study, just at different levels. The Catalogue provides lots of detail at item level, whilst you will find more information on broader elements such as data classes on the Gateway. The two work together to facilitate future research, and you can use both to get the most out of existing research.
Head to the innovation Gateway to find out more!
What is DATAMIND? How is it linked to the Catalogue?
DATAMIND is a datahub developed by HDR UK, which works to make the best use of mental health data and enable coordinated research. It is a platform allowing researchers and others to find and use many different types of mental health data.
Because DATAMIND is part of HDR UK, this hub is available through the HDR Gateway. It aims to bring together many different sources of data but is specific to mental health.
The Catalogue is a part of this HDR hub. The Catalogue and DATAMIND are therefore part of a wider consortium aiming to facilitate future mental health research. The two share similar values about the importance of making mental health data discoverable, and encouraging the uptake of this data to overall improve our understanding of mental health.
Why does the Catalogue not include Dementia?
Measures of Dementia are not included in the Catalogue. There is a maintained focus on mental health and wellbeing, so measures focusing on neurocognitive disorders, learning difficulties and cognition (such as intelligence, memory) are not detailed.
If you are interested in Dementia, Dementias Platform UK provides a great space to learn more about this disorder and has lots of information on neurocognitive data in over 35 British cohorts.
Are clinical cohorts included in the Catalogue as well as general population cohorts?
Yes, the Catalogue includes studies using clinical cohorts. The Catalogue also covers studies with a focus on vulnerable/marginalised groups.
Furthermore, the Catalogue contains a wide variety of studies and sample types, as the UK is home to many kinds of longitudinal studies and cohorts. For example, there are study designs such as household panel surveys, repeated cross-sectional surveys, and accelerated cohorts. Sample types vary as well, and the Catalogue covers a range of these, such as ageing cohorts and occupational cohorts, as well as general and clinical.
To find clinical cohorts on the Catalogue, and any other sample types you need, you can use the filter “sample characteristics”, where you will find a full list of the types of cohorts the Catalogue covers. Also, to find different study designs, you can use the “study design” filter.
Does the Catalogue include international cohorts?
At this stage, the Catalogue does not include international cohorts. The initial aim of the Catalogue is to cover UK based studies, due to the large number of valuable and rich longitudinal research the UK is home to. These studies are prioritised in the Catalogue and provide a large national picture.
The Catalogue, however, does include studies that cover cohorts from across Europe and the UK, such as the European social survey, the European working conditions survey, and IMAGEN. Look for these studies using the search engine on the Catalogue.
What makes the Catalogue unique?
There are many ways in which the Catalogue is a unique resource.
The Catalogue displays information about measures of mental health and wellbeing at the item-level, providing fine-grained detail about each measure, when it was used, the response scale, focus, and informant. This allows researchers to effortlessly identify information about the studies and measures featured on the Catalogue. The detail offered by the Catalogue highlights the wealth of available longitudinal mental health and wellbeing data, enabling researchers to discover these data and find exactly what they need.
The focus on UK longitudinal research on the Catalogue is significant, as these provide a rich source of data. The Catalogue maximises the use, value, and impact of longitudinal studies to help improve our understanding of mental health. You can compare data from these different studies to look at patterns of measurement across sweeps, and decide which measures are best for your research projects. Looking at longitudinal studies also enables change over time and across generations to be better understood. The UK has such a varied and wide range of longitudinal research; the Catalogue is a great place to start looking for what you need, as they are all in one place.
The usability of the Catalogue also makes this resource unique. You can quickly use the search engine to look for studies, specific instruments, and mental health disorders, as well as using the filters on the side of the search page to narrow down your search. You can use these filters to easily specify your search, and find studies with specific sample characteristics, or a particular study design, for example. The measures are also presented on a searchable timeline on each study page, to show the data collection over time. You can find the measures you need, from any time point, here with ease!