NICOLA: The Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Jump to study timeline

As the first large scale longitudinal study of ageing in Northern Ireland, NICOLA aims to help gain a better understanding of the factors that affect social and health outcomes in the older Northern Ireland population. Over time, it will inform new prevention strategies, new interventions, new models of health and social care delivery, and ultimately contribute to how society should change to ensure a better quality of life for all.

Queen's University Belfast

Geographic coverage - Nations
Northern Ireland

Geographic coverage - Regions

Start date

Catalogue record last updated


Sample type
Ageing cohort

Sample details
NICOLA recruited a random sample of 8,309 people aged 50 years and over who were living in their own homes in Northern Ireland. Spouses or partners of participants, who shared their residency, were also invited to participate, to provide household information on family and finances.

Householders received an introductory letter, followed by contact from fieldworkers who obtained the name and informed consent from eligible participants. Individuals who were institutionalised or who lacked the capacity to provide informed consent were excluded from participating in the NICOLA study. Spouses or partners of eligible participants who wished to take part in the study did not have to have been born on or before September 30th 1962, but had to be living at the same address as the selected age-eligible participant. A total of 195 who were aged less than 50 chose to participate, resulting in a total of 8,504 participants in NICOLA Wave 1.

Sample size at recruitment

Sample size at most recent sweep
6,152 (2019 - Wave 2)


Age at recruitment
50 years +

Cohort year of birth
1962 or earlier


Data access
Project proposal - see data access guidance

Genetic data collected

Linkage to administrative data
Mortality data

Additional information


NICOLA has been designed to maximise comparability with other well-established international longitudinal studies, in particular the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) in the United States.

Also known as the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Related themes
Covid-19 data collection, Biomarkers, Cognitive measures, Cognitive decline, Diet and nutrition, Socioeconomic status and deprivation, Loneliness and social isolation, Neighbourhood, Physical health assessment, Digital technology and social media, Victimisation and life events, Reproductive health, Work and employment, Sleep problems, Social care - receipt, Social care - provision, Social care - need

The Atlantic Philanthropies
Economic and Social Research Council
Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland
Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland
NI Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister
HSC Public Health Agency Research & Development
Wellcome Trust
The Wolfson Foundation
Queen's University Belfast
Mental health measures timeline

Sweep name:

Cohort member age:

Data collection period:


Physical health measures:

NO! That's fine
This website is using anonymised Google analytics to help us work out how to make it better! More details