The PROTECT Study (Platform for Research Online To Investigate Genetics and Cognition & Ageing)

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The PROTECT Study is an online-based study that aims to improve understanding of the ageing brain and why some people develop dementia. Participants in PROTECT provide information such as demographics and lifestyle and complete online assessments of cognitive abilities. By repeating these assessments each year, the study team are able to monitor change over the study. Participants also provide a sample of their DNA through a simple at-home kit.

University of Exeter Medical School & Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London

Geographic coverage - Nations
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Geographic coverage - Regions

Start date

Catalogue record last updated


Sample type
Cohort study (ongoing recruitment)

Sample details
Recruitment commenced in November 2015. Inclusion criteria were adults over the age of 50 years, who live in the UK, have a good working understanding of English, and are able to use a computer with Internet access. Individuals with an established diagnosis of dementia were excluded. The study was widely publicized in the national media, in addition to recruitment via established cohorts of older adults. Recruitment is ongoing, with a change in the age eligibility to now include adults over the age of 40 years. Potential participants register via the online website and download the study information sheet. Participants are followed up annually, with data collection taking place approximately yearly after baseline such that data is collected across the year. Minor updates are made to questionnaires approximately yearly, as detailed in the data collection timeline below.

Sample size at recruitment

Sample size at most recent sweep


Age at recruitment
40 years +

Cohort year of birth


Data access
Contact study team by emailing to express an interest in accessing the data

Genetic data collected

Linkage to administrative data

Additional information


Related themes
Covid-19 data collection, Cognitive measures, Diet and nutrition, Ethnicity and race, Sexuality and gender identity, Loneliness and social isolation, Neighbourhood, 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

Key Papers

Online assessment of risk factors for dementia and cognitive function in healthy adults.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London
Mental health measures timeline

Sweep name:

Cohort member age:

Data collection period:


Physical health measures:

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