Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study

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The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (often referred to as the Dunedin Longitudinal Study) is a long-running cohort study of 1037 people born over the course of a year in Dunedin, New Zealand.


The original pool of study members were selected from those born between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 at the Queen Mary Maternity Centre in Dunedin who were still living in the wider Otago region three years later. In early years the study was not well funded and the local community helped collect data.[1] The study members include 535 males and 503 females, 1013 singletons and 12 sets of twins. At the 38-year assessment, only one-third of members still resided in Dunedin, while most of the remainder lived elsewhere in New Zealand and Australia.[2] Study members were assessed at age three, and then at ages 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32 and, most recently, at age 38 (2010-2012). Future assessments are scheduled for ages 44 and 50. "Phase 45" will start in April 2017.[3]

During an assessment, study members are brought back to Dunedin from wherever in the world they live. They participate in a day of interviews, physical tests, dental examinations, blood tests, computer questionnaires and surveys. Sub-studies of the Dunedin Study include the Family Health History Study which involved the parents of Dunedin Study members to find out about the health of family members (2003-2006); the ongoing Parenting Study which focuses on the Dunedin Study member and their first three-year-old child; and the Next Generation Study which involves the offspring of Dunedin Study members as they turn 15 and looks at the lifestyles, behaviours, attitudes and health of today's teenagers, and aims to see how these have changed from when the original Study Members were 15 (in 1987-88). This means that information across three generations of the same families will be available.

Great emphasis is placed on retention of study members. At the most recent (age 38) assessments, 96% of all living eligible study members, or 961 people, participated. This is unprecedented for a longitudinal study, with many others worldwide experiencing 20–40% drop-out rates.

The resulting database has produced a wealth of information on many aspects of human health and development. As of 2015 over 1,200 papers, reports, book chapters and other publications have been produced using findings from the study.[1] The multidisciplinary aspect of the study has always been a central focus, with information ranging across:

  • Cardiovascular health and risk factors
  • Respiratory health
  • Oral health
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial functioning
  • Other health, including sensory, musculo-skeletal, and digestive

A book, From Child to Adult: Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, was published in 1996 and aimed at presenting the major findings in a form accessible to the non-specialist. It only includes information up to the age-21 assessment. Future plans for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study include another popular science book, upgrading their website for more non-specialist appeal, and introducing more resources for the general public.

Media reports of results[edit]

Research papers[edit]

A sample of the publications based on the Dunedin study:


  1. ^ a b Poulton, Richie; Moffitt, Terrie E.; Silva, Phil A. (2015). "The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study: overview of the first 40 years, with an eye to the future". Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 50 (5): 679–693. doi:10.1007/s00127-015-1048-8. ISSN 0933-7954. 
  2. ^ "The Study Members". Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Research Unit. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  3. ^ http://dunedinstudy.otago.ac.nz/news-and-events/article/48

External links[edit]