What is the Life Course Program?

The Life Course Program is a prospective longitudianal study that encompasses two cohort studies, the Aboriginal Birth Cohort study and the Top End Cohort study.

Top End Cohort 
If you signed up for the study when you were 18 – 20 years old, you are one of 196 eligible participants born in Darwin between 1987 and 1991. We may have assessed your health when you were 22 – 26 years of age or tried to make contact with you during this time. Read study information brochure »

Aboriginal Birth Cohort
Between 1987 and 1990 we asked the mothers of 686 newborns in Royal Darwin Hospital if they would agree for their babies to be involved in the Life Course program. If you were one of these babies, we have endeavored to meet with you and assess your health at age 11 and 18 years and recently between the ages of 22-26. Read study information brochure »

What is the purpose of the study?

Chronic diseases have reached epidemic proportions in Australia and many people die prematurely from heart problems, kidney disease, lung problems and diabetes. Some studies have shown that low birth weight might increase the risk of developing chronic disease in adulthood while others link poor adult health to living conditions, emotional well-being and their physical health throughout childhood. A longitudinal study approach allows us to test these theories by observing the changes in health that occur in individuals over time. From here we can help plan ways to prevent the onset of chronic diseases and improve the health and well-being of individuals across the Top End.

How can I get involved?

If you have been part of the Life Course Program in the past, please contact Belinda Davison to register your interest to take part in upcoming health checks.  If you are asked and agree to participate, we would like to see you every 4 – 5 years and stay in contact during that time so we can keep your details up-to-date. To make the process as convenient for you as possible, we travel to communities across the Top End to meet with participants. Participation in the program is completely voluntary and we hope you find the health checks interesting and enjoyable. 

How long does a health check take and what does it involve?

As you may remember, it takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to complete all the activities and procedures in the health check. We encourage you to take part in all the assessments so we have complete information on your health but these are entirely voluntary so you can choose which ones you do and do not wish to participate in. For information regarding the assessments, please click here.

Why should I participate? 

Being part of this important Life Course Program will help you learn more about your own health and the changes your body undergoes throughout your life. From this health check we will be able to check your general health, growth, nutritional status, blood pressure, emotional well-being and thinking ability. We are also assessing if you are at risk of developing heart disease or diabetes in later life. With your consent, any abnormalities or problems in the areas examined will be sent to your nominated health clinic or GP. 

What happens to my information and the samples I provide? Will my health information be kept safe?

All information obtained, including your identity and any personally identifying information you provide will be kept confidential. We use a special identification number so that your name and personal details remain confidential at all times. Your information is kept in locked files at the Menzies School of Health Research and entered into secured computer programs. As this is a longitudinal study, information collected will be kept so we can compare results and observe changes that occur over time. Blood and urine samples are sent in batches to Laboratories in other states for testing. In the meantime and with your consent, we store these samples in a freezer at Menzies. The results from these tests can take a little longer than others but we will get them to you as soon as possible.

What if I have missed a health check? Can I withdraw from the study?

It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t make it to previous health checks, every bit of information you provide is another important piece toward solving the puzzle! However, you can refuse to be part of this study or withdraw at any time. This will not affect medical advice in the management of your health, now or in the future.

What's happening now in the Life Course Program?

Starting from June/July 2019 the Life Course team will be starting the next wave of data collection of the original participants. If you've ever been apart of this be sure to look out for information on clinic visit dates or get in contact, as we would really like to see you again. This is the 5th time this data is being collected, with many of the orignal babies in the study now in their early 30's, so the new information will show how the cohort has progressed fom babies, to children, to teenagers then young adults and now adults.  

How can I update my details?

If you have participated in any previous studies, please let Project Manager, Belinda Davison know so we can update or confirm your details to keep in contact with you.