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Biomarker

All waves of SHARE include objective health data (biomeasures) in form of physical performance measures: grip strength, walking speed (both strong predictors of future disability), peak flow (associated with health conditions, including dementia) and the so-called chair stand measurement (its result is a predictor of subsequent disability or hospitalization). Additionally, we ask respondents for their height and weight. Not all of the listed measures are collected in every wave, for more details see table 1.


A cutting edge innovation in Wave 6 was the implementation of a blood sample collection in 12 SHARE countries. Blood samples have been collected in form of dried blood spots (DBS). DBS are drops of blood dried on a special filter paper. The blood is taken by a simple prick into the respondent’s fingertip which enables specially trained interviewers to conduct the blood collection.


The following of the SHARE countries participated in the collection of DBS: Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Sweden, and Slovenia. From these countries nearly 24.000 blood samples are available for analysis from the same number of Wave 6 respondents.


The analyses of various blood markers in these DBS samples was initiated recently. We are interested in markers related to diseases and conditions that are typical for older people and/or are influenced by lifestyle, for example cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, and markers for stress and cognition. We are expecting first results to be available in 2018. These blood parameters will provide objective information about the respondents’ health status, complementing the more subjective self-reports included in SHARE.

 

Overview of objective physical measurements in SHARE (table 1):

 

 

 

Wave 1 (2004/05)

Wave 2 (2006/07)

Wave 3 (2008/09)

Wave 4 (2010/11)

Wave 5 (2012/13)

Wave 6 (2014/15)

Biomeasures

Performance measures

 

 

 

Grip strength

yes

 yes

 yes

 yes

 yes

 yes

Lung strength (peak flow)

 

 yes

 

 yes

 

 yes

Walking speed

 yes

 yes

 

 

 

 

Chair stand

 

 yes

 

 

 yes

 

Physical measures

 

weight (self reported)

 yes

 yes

 

 yes

 yes

 yes

height (self reported)

 yes

 yes

 

 yes

 yes

 yes

Biomarkers

 

Dried Blood spots analyses

 

 

 

 

 

yes*

 

 

 

 

 

* = not in all SHARE countries