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Reviews and reports

Population cohorts

The UK supports an unparalleled number and variety of large scale population cohort studies. These provide a rich source of longitudinal phenotypic, biological and social data that can be used for studying health and wellbeing throughout the life course. The ability to link to health and other routine records, collect data and samples from consenting participants and apply cutting edge imaging and ‘omics’ technologies, places the UK in an ideal position to fully capitalise on these major research assets.

MRC Strategic Review

For more than 50 years, the MRC has funded a diverse range of population cohorts that have provided important insights into the determinants of health, wellbeing and disease. They have also contributed to public health policy and changes in clinical practice. In order to maximise the value of these studies, it is important to gain a comprehensive understanding of how they fit into the context of the wider UK population cohort landscape.

We have carried out a review of the largest UK population cohort studies to document the current investment in these cohorts and to model how the studies will develop over the next 10 years. A total of 34 cohorts were included, 19 of which we either partially or fully funded. MRC funding accounts for just under £10m of the total combined annual spend on these cohorts of £27.6m. They span the whole life course from birth to 100 years of age, and together contain 2.2 million participants.

Download the strategic review: Maximising the value of UK population cohorts (PDF, 2.07MB).

Cohort Directory

The Cohort Directory is a searchable tool of UK population cohorts. The aim of the directory is to signpost users to individual cohorts to maximise the use and translation of findings of these valuable UK assets.  

Data sharing policy

Data sharing policies are vital for enabling the greater use of valuable MRC funded resources. These need to ensure that data and biological samples are collected and preserved using appropriate standards, and that there are transparent and independent governance arrangements in place for access and sharing.

Working in partnership with the major funders, we have strengthened our policy on the access and governance of patient and population studies. We have also developed improved guidance for data management plans which details information on data collection, management, preservation, sharing and collaboration.

Download our Policy and Guidance on Sharing of Research Data from Population and Patient Studies (PDF, 763KB).

Complex intervention guidance

We first published guidance on complex interventions in 2000 and updated this in 2008. A number of developments since 2008 means that is time to refresh this guidance again. Currently the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit is co-ordinating the updating of this guidance document, which is being overseen by a multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Group. You can read about progress of the project on the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit web page.