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ODI seeks longitudinal datasets for mental health research


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Open Data Institute (ODI) is working on a project to harness longitudinal datasets on mental health.

It is collaborating with King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, MQ Mental Health Research, the Centre for Global Mental Health and the DATAMIND hub of Health Data Research UK and with the support of the Wellcome charitable foundation.

A longitudinal study collects data on the same people repeatedly over a period of time, providing the basis to examine patterns of change.

ODI said the project is aimed at creating a resource of existing longitudinal datasets on mental health to further the scientific understanding of how the brain, body and environment interact in influencing anxiety, depression and psychosis.

In the longer term, the information could support Wellcome’s efforts to find new ways of predicting, identifying and intervening as early possible to help people with mental health problems.

ODI has begun a global search for relevant large scale datasets, using tools to make them discoverable, and is looking for contributions from people outside academia to find out what data they find useful. The criteria for the datasets is that they are longitudinal, either ongoing or planned to go live within three years, cover more than 8,000 participants and monitor subjects at some point between the ages of 14 and 30.

It has invited interested parties to get in touch.

Rising concern

Louise Arseneault, professor of developmental psychology at King’s College London, said: “While our knowledge about the development of mental health problems has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, this has failed to curb the rise in the number of people living with mental health problems.

“Undertaking research to better understand the onset, development and recurrence of disorders such as anxiety, depression and psychosis is crucial for finding rapid and efficient ways to predict, intervene and ultimately stop the harmful outcomes of mental illnesses.”

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