Scottish Longitudinal Study Of Ageing (THSLS)

The Scottish Longitudinal Survey of ageing (THSLS) is a planned longitudinal study focusing on older people in Scotland. Scotland does not have a longitudinal study of ageing, making it unusual within Western Europe, and putting us at a disadvantage in understanding population ageing. THSLS would complement existing studies, such as ELSA (England), TILDA (Eire), NICOLA (Northern Ireland), the HRS (US) and SHARE (mainland Europe).

The aims of THSLS are:

Data Collection
The THSLS Steering Group consists of David Bell (Stirling), Nick Buck (Essex), Ian Deary (Edinburgh), John Frank (Edinburgh), Vernon Gayle (Edinburgh), Marion McMurdo (Dundee) and Robert Wright (Strathclyde). A pilot study for THSLS will test some of the innovative aspects, which we hope to embed in the full version of the Scottish longitudinal study of ageing. The pilot will establish the process for using the NHS Central Register (NHSCR) as a sampling frame. The pilot fieldwork therefore will involve constructing a sample using the NHSCR, interviewing a sample of older people (target of 400 individuals), and testing the procedures for linking with consent to their records in health, education and other data sources. It will test the potential for linking the sample to administrative health, education, income, benefits and social care data. These linkages have the potential to make the Scottish survey one of the most powerful combinations of survey and administrative data in the worldwide family of longitudinal surveys of aging.

What's happening next?
The pilot began in July 2013, with fieldwork undertaken in Autumn 2014. It is anticipated that the full study would begin in 2015/2016, and the aim is to expand the study to 8,000 people by 2018. The THSLS will report changes in their health and social circumstances every two year over a ten-year period, and beyond.

In order to realize this plan we need to build support and secure funding for the study.

If you would like to find out more about THSLS please contact Professor David Bell ( or Dr. Alasdair Rutherford(

To The Top