If you had the chance to change the world, would you?
Welcome to the Emory Healthy Aging Study. This is your opportunity to partner with leading physicians at Emory University and help make discoveries that will change our understanding of aging and age-related diseases for generations to come.
It’s easy. It’s historic. It’s one for the ages.
Our 100,000 Goal
100,000 registrants. That's the number we're aiming for, and we're proud to say we're 14.5% of the way there. Our participants come from all ages, races, and walks of life. Because of the diversity required for this study, we utilized several different methods to reach potential candidates.
From Lead to Participant
How will we hit our 100,000 registrant goal? We start by generating leads. The first step is to garner interest and engagement in this historic research endeavor. By participating in local health events, contacting patients at our clinics, and using social media, we taught 60,086 people about the Emory Healthy Aging Study in 2016.
From there, we ask these leads to register for more information. Preliminary data is gathered to determine the potential participant's age and email address. They'll create a password so that if they pause this step, it’s easily accessible at a later date.
Participation in this study relies entirely on consent from the volunteer. We make everything easy and transparent for each participant, so that they know what they are agreeing to by joining the study. After they've given their approval, we gather their contact information.
How We’re Using Your Data
What We’ve Found So Far
While the Emory Healthy Aging Study is still in its early stages, data collected from the participants has already been utilized to draw some interesting preliminary conclusions on the effects of aging.
On Cognitive Function
Other research studies have suggested that parental history of Alzheimer’s disease and related memory problems have an influence on how people perceive the effects of aging on their own mental capability. We put this theory to the test, with data from 3,124 of our own participants.
Interestingly, we found no evidence to support the conclusion derived from the other research studies. Instead, we saw that there were significant differences in cognitive function between African American and Caucasian participants. This type of information is very helpful in conducting future studies, as it might help provide a rationale or explanation for otherwise confusing results.
On Cardiovascular Disease
In a separate study, our researchers used the data of 3,801 Emory Healthy Aging Study participants to determine the relationship between family history of cardiovascular disease and self-reported cognitive function. Past research has shown that a family history of heart disease and stroke is a risk factor for heart disease and that factors related to heart health are related to brain health. (1-3)
While a family history of cardiovascular disease can help predict heart disease, its relationship to brain health is unknown. What do we know? Using participants' data, we found that the correlation between a family history of cardiovascular disease and poor cognitive function was similar to having a first-degree family member with cognitive impairment.
The Next Step
So far, the results have been incredibly exciting. Due to the long-term nature of the Emory Healthy Aging Study, we will have the ability to re-evaluate a sample of our participants to see how their self-reported responses have changed. What we find could provide a basis for future research on heart and brain health, and how they are affected by aging.
Beyond the data presented in this annual report, we still have even more information collected from participants that we are eager to delve into in the short and long-term future. We've already begun to explore the details of the previous two studies that were conducted, in addition to related topics such as diabetes and hypertension. We're also evaluating how exposure to chemicals affects the development of age-related diseases. The broad nature of the data we're gathering and the vast amount of study volunteers we have to work with means that our research and analysis will only speed up as time passes.
Kivipelto M, Helkala EL, Laakso MP, et al. Midlife vascular risk factors and Alzheimer's disease in later life: longitudinal, population based study. BMJ (Clinical research ed) 2001;322:1447-51.
Thacker EL, Gillett SR, Wadley VG, et al. The American Heart Association Life's Simple 7 and incident cognitive impairment: The Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. Journal of the American Heart Association 2014;3:e000635.
Scheuner MT, Whitworth WC, McGruder H, Yoon PW, Khoury MJ. Expanding the definition of a positive family history for early-onset coronary heart disease. Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 2006;8:491-501.
Registrants by Age
The mystery of aging is the entire reason for the Emory Healthy Aging Study, and therefore is an important factor in determining if a candidate is eligible to participate. While we're open to participants over the age of 18, our largest pool comes from the 56 - 75 range. These are the people that feel the effects of aging most, and are learning about their own health as well as helping the study.
Registrants by Gender & Race
We strive for diversity within the Emory Healthy Aging Study. It's important that our research discovers how different people from all walks of life are impacted by aging. In 2016, we saw that a large portion of our volunteers were Caucasian females. To diversify our candidate pool, we used Facebook to reach other races and genders. By targeting African-Americans and male audiences with highly segmented social media advertising, we're helping to bridge the gap in race and gender with our current volunteers.
Share the Study
A diverse group of volunteers is essential to our research. While aging is a universal process, its affects are nuanced among different races and genders. It’s important that our participant pool equally represents all members of our society. To help us ensure that our research is working towards healthy aging for all, please share our study with your friends!
Registrants by Location
Emory University Hospital is located in Atlanta, Georgia, on Emory University’s campus. Because of our community involvement and the need to see our Emory Healthy Brain Study volunteers in person, a vast majority of our participants are from the metro-Atlanta area. However, our self-reported Health History Questionnaire can be answered from any part of the country. While our more in-depth brain research requires a clinical visit, people from any state can join the Emory Healthy Aging study just by visiting our website!
As a first-time volunteer in any clinical research study, Lee is helping us understand how our minds age by participating in the Emory Healthy Brain Study.
A large part of our research involves self-reported data from our participants. Our Health History Questionnaire aims to tell us about the personal lives of our volunteers, as well as their family history with age-related diseases. What would your answers look like if you joined the study? Find out below!
What time do you typically go to bed at night?
Think about the walking you do outside of the home. How often do you walk outside the home for more than 10 minutes without stopping?
Number of alcoholic drinks per week?
Do you have a family history of Alzheimer's Disease (biological mother, father or sibling)?
Do you have a personal history of High Blood Pressure?
Do you have a personal History of Diabetes?
As a member of the baby boomer generation, Karstin joined the Emory Healthy Aging Study to determine why Alzheimer’s and Dementia are more prevalent in elderly women.
HHQ Completions and Registrants by Source
Educating our community about the Emory Healthy Aging Study is a crucial part of reaching our registration goal. We reached potential participants in a number of ways last year, with the hopes that they would take the next step and complete a Health History Questionnaire. The chart below indicates which channels drove the most registrations and Health History Questionnaire completions.
With its vast user-base, it was no surprise that the highest amount of Health History Questionnaire completions came from Facebook. Using niche targeting, creative messaging, and relatable imagery, we were able to hone in on our ideal candidate for participation.
Though Facebook saw the most completed Health History Questionnaires, another method saw the most registrations. With the help of students from the Rollins College of Public Health at Emory, we approached eligible candidates at our clinics. These patients were provided an iPad or kiosk to easily sign up for the study.
Establishing a connection to our community is an important initiative of the Emory Healthy Aging Study. Our team has attended thirteen local public health events and forums, with the goals of recruiting new participants and educating other attendees. We successfully gained over 600 registrants from these events, and discussed important health information concerning aging and chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
At Emory Hospital, our renowned medical team is helping treat patients on a daily basis. For the Emory Healthy Aging Study, we saw a large portion of these patients return the favor and volunteer for our study. Their participation in the Emory Healthy Aging Study or any of our substudies in no way impacts the care they receive in any other setting.
Emory Healthy Aging Substudies & Assessments
We've identified four specific aspects of the aging process to further study, within the realm of the Emory Healthy Aging Study. These substudies of the Emory Healthy Aging Study help us learn more about how our brain and mental health change as we grow older.
Emory Healthy Brain Study
The goal of the Emory Healthy Brain Study is to identify Alzheimer's before symptoms start to appear. By catching the disease early, we can eventually slow, prevent, or treat it. To participate in this study, you must join the Emory Healthy Aging Study and fall between ages 50-75.
Our cognitive assessments measure your memory and thinking capabilities, and are a key part of the Emory Healthy Aging Study. By completing these assessments, you can help researchers by providing useful information on how the mind works in relation in various scenarios. These tools will soon be available online, and we're looking for beta testers! Please contact us if you would like to volunteer for this role.