Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA)

Canada is experiencing an unprecedented change in the make-up of its population. By 2036, nearly one in four Canadians will be age 65 or older. With rapid demographic change now underway, there is a critical need for high-quality research on aging as well as strong evidence to support the enhancement of programs, services, policies and care.

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) was established to enable research that moves beyond a snapshot of the adult population to understand and observe the complex interplay between physical, social and psychological determinants of health over time.

The overall aims of the CLSA are:

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About the CLSA

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is one of CIHR's Major Strategic Initiatives. Its development was championed by the Institute of Aging. The fundamental goal of this initiative is to mobilize experts in the community to generate the scientific content for a longitudinal research platform that will enable interdisciplinary, population-based research and evidence-based decision-making that will lead to better health and quality of life for Canadians.

The CLSA is a large, national, long-term study that is following approximately 50,000 Canadian men and women who were between the ages of 45 and 85 at baseline, for a period of 20 years. The study collects information on the changing biological, medical, psychological, social, and economic aspects of people's lives. These factors will be studied in order to understand how, individually and in combination, they have an impact in both maintaining health and in the development of disease and disability as people age. The CLSA is one of the most comprehensive research platforms of its kind undertaken to date, not only in Canada but around the world.

All 50,000 participants provide a core set of data on demographic and lifestyle/behaviour measures, social measures, anthropometric measures, psychological measures, socio-economic measures, and health status measures. Thirty thousand of the 50,000 (CLSA Comprehensive) participants contribute additional information on their diet, medication use, chronic diseases and sleep patterns, and have physical measurements and blood and urine samples taken at a local data collection site. The remaining 20,000 (CLSA Tracking) provide the core information set through telephone interviews. During the 20-year study, CLSA participants are followed up with every three years.

A team of more than 160 co-investigators and collaborators from 26 Canadian universities are working together on this innovative, multidisciplinary study including: Parminder Raina (McMaster University), Lauren Griffith (McMaster University), Christina Wolfson (McGill University) Susan Kirkland (Dalhousie University), Teresa Liu-Ambrose (University of British Columbia), Andrew Wister (Simon Fraser University), Debra Sheets (University of Victoria), Lynne Young (University of Victoria), David Hogan (University of Calgary), Verena Menec (University of Manitoba), Larry W. Chambers (Bruyère Continuing Care), Vanessa Taler (Bruyère Continuing Care), Hélène Payette (Université de Sherbrooke) and Gerry Mugford (Memorial University).

To enable data collection and analysis, the CLSA has established the following state-of-the-art infrastructure across the country:

In July 2015, the CLSA surpassed its baseline recruitment goal of 50,000, and the CLSA team is working on the first follow-up and contacting participants again.

Objectives

Population aging is at the center of the policy debate in many countries. Populations projections show approximately one in four Canadians will be aged 65 and over in 2036 and that the proportion of the oldest seniors (80 years and over) will also increase sharply. Since the large baby-boom generations are approaching retirement, many people will experience the transition from work to retirement. Aging will also affect labour force growth, old age income security expenditures, the health-care system as well as the demand for informal care giving and home care services. Furthermore, a growing number of older Canadians will face the combined effects of a decline in physical function, medical problems and the development of chronic diseases.

For the first time, there will be the opportunity to begin to understand the complex interplay between physical, social and psychological determinants of health, including gene-gene and gene-environment interactions. This initiative will enable research to move beyond a snapshot of the adult Canadian population to observe and understand the disease, disability and psychosocial processes that accompany aging.

The overall aims of the CLSA are:

Data Access

Data from more than 51,000 participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) are now available to the research community.  A fundamental principle of the CLSA is that data be made available to the research community as soon as it is feasible, while protecting the privacy, confidentiality and consent of participants. Ease of access and timely use of the data are critical to the success of CLSA research platform. The CLSA has established a Data and Sample Access Policy and Guiding Principles, which is available on the CLSA website. Researchers who are interested in accessing the data can submit an application to access@clsa-elcv.ca. Applications are reviewed by the Data and Sample Access Committee.

Partnerships

As Canada’s premium research platform on aging and as a major initiative of CIHR, the CLSA actively seeks partnerships that will contribute to

  1. the core funding for the sustainability of the CLSA research platform;
  2. increased use of the CLSA data and biospecimens by the research community; and
  3. the development of the next generation of researchers in the field of aging.

CLSA’s vision is that partners will enrich the CLSA research platform, promote and foster its development into a dynamic, rich, comprehensive and unique resource for aging research. This premium resource will result in beneficial rewards for the partners through facilitating rapid adoption of sound research into health practice, programs, policies, services and products that will contribute to healthy aging and enhanced quality of life for older adults.

The CLSA has been successful in additional fundraising with a variety of partners to support the implementation and baseline data collection phase of the CLSA (2010-2015). The CLSA continues to develop partnerships for the first (2015-2018) and second (2018-2021) follow-ups to support and sustain the long-term vision of the CLSA. A full list of CLSA partnerships is available on the Partners section of the CLSA website.

Peer Reviewed Funding

Data Collection and Biomarker inclusion

2015 to 2020:
Continued implementation of the approved CLSA protocol ($41.6M), including data collection for all 50,000 participants for the period of 2015 to 2020. This five-year period will allow the team to collect data for first follow-up (2015-2018) and two thirds of second follow-up (2018-2020).

Total amount funded by CIHR:

Protocol Implementation Investments:

2008-2015:
CLSA Team funded ($23.5 million) to support the Implementation Phase which includes the first wave of recruitment and baseline data collection from all 50,000 CLSA participants.

Protocol Development Investments:

2006-2008:
CLSA team funded ($2.1 million) to support Content Development and Validation

2004-2006:
Conduct of CLSA: Methodological Feasibility Studies

Development and International Peer review of CLSA Protocol

2002-2004:
Development and International Peer review of CLSA Protocol Design

CLSA Team funded ($1,744,000) to support the Methodological Feasibility Studies

2001-2002:
CIHR Institute of Aging issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) entitled: Protocol Design for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. The RFP was based on a CLSA Design Workshop held that same month in Aylmer, Quebec.

Launch and International Peer review of Request for Proposals, entitled: Protocol Design for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.

Meritorious CLSA team, headed by 3 principal investigators (Dr. Parminder Raina, McMaster University; Dr. Christina Wolfson, McGill University; and Dr. Susan Kirkland, Dalhousie University) funded ($462,000) to develop CLSA Protocol Design.

CLSA Governance

The CLSA has a governance structure in place to support effective ongoing management of the CLSA. Details on CLSA committees are available on the Governance section of the CLSA website.

CIHR Oversight

The CLSA reports on progress annually to the CIHR Oversight Committee. The CLSA Oversight Committee’s mandate is to monitor progress and potential risks associated with CLSA’s implementation, at the overall initiative level, to ensure that the CLSA achieves its stated milestones and objectives.

CIHR Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) for the CLSA

The mandate of the CIHR Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is to:

  1. provide independent, critical advice to the CLSA Scientific Management Team on actions and best practices to address ethical, legal and social issues in carrying out the approved CLSA protocol;
  2. contribute to the advancement of ELSI knowledge related to the CLSA and similar CIHR-funded, population-based, longitudinal studies, databases and biobanks, including but not limited to the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA); and
  3. facilitate dissemination of ELSI knowledge to the external community of relevant stakeholders and other cohorts.

News and Announcements

The latest news, announcements and webinars are available on the CLSA website.

Researchers invited to analyze Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) data
Canadian researchers from all research areas are invited to submit health research projects that make use of available CLSA data. The data, from over 50,000 Canadians, covers various aspects of people’s lives, including biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects. The research projects should help us understand how these factors, taken individually and in combination, have an impact in both maintaining health and in the development of disease and disability as people age.

This funding opportunity is restricted to the currently available alpha numeric data available from the CLSA. The selected projects will help find ways to improve the health of Canadians by better understanding the aging process and the factors that shape the way we age.

May 09, 2016Major data release underway from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging - Data from more than 51,000 participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) are now available to the research community.

September 28, 2012, Hamilton, ON – On behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), delivered the opening remarks at the official grand opening and launch of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) at McMaster University.

May 21, 2009, Hamilton, ON – The National launch of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Contact information

For questions about the CLSA, please contact: info@clsa-elcv.ca or visit: www.clsa-elcv.ca

For information on CIHR’s support of the CLSA, or other major initiatives please contact:

Telephone: 613-954-1968
Toll Free: 1-888-603-4178
Fax: 613-954-1800
support@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

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