The ELSA sample is a nationally representative sample of the population aged 50 years and older, living in private households in England. The initial sample was recruited in 2002/03 from consenting households that had participated in the Health Survey for England (HSE) in 1998, 1999, and 2001.
The ELSA core interview is carried out in English every two years through face-to-face interviews using computer-assisted person interviewing (CAPI) since 2002.
In addition to the core interview, ELSA also collects a number of other types of data.
Conducted at Waves 2, 3, 4, and 6 among a sample of family members or carers of deceased respondents.
Conducted once on a subset of the ELSA sample after Wave 3.
General self-completion survey provided to respondents at each wave. Additional health and work self-completion surveys provided to sub-samples at Wave 3. Additional sexual activity and relationship self-completion survey at Wave 6 and 8.
Conducted at Waves 2, 4 and 6 for all respondents via qualified nurse assessment. Conducted at Wave 8 for a sub-sample via nurse assessment.
Venous blood was drawn during the nurse assessments.
The Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP) was conducted between Wave 8 and Wave 9 on respondents aged 65 and older.
Genome wide association study (GWAS) was performed in 2013-2014 of 7,597 ELSA participants of European ancestry using the Illumina Omni 2.5-8 chip.
The ELSA Wave 1 sample included 11,578 households containing 18,813 eligible individuals and their spouses. Since then, the ELSA sample has been refreshed at waves 3, 4, 6, and 7. When a refreshment sample is drawn, households from HSE are selected for ELSA if at least one HSE interview was conducted with an age eligible respondent who agreed to be re-contacted.
ELSA has included linkages to administrative data since Wave 1. Respondents are asked for permission to link to official records of National Insurance contributions, welfare and benefit receipt, details of any tax credits they may be claiming, Hospital Episode Statistics and NHS Central Register (mortality) and cancer registration data.
Most public access ELSA data can be downloaded from the UK Data Service (UKDS). There are three levels of access available from UKDS: 1) End User License (EUL), 2) Special License (SL), 3) Secure Access (SA). The EUL-level data are anonymized and only requires registration with UKDS. The SL-level data include variables posing slightly higher risk of disclosure and require additional approval. The SA-level data are considered sensitive and are only available via a Secure Lab or encrypted remote access.
- Core interview
- End-of-life interview
- Life history interview
- Self-completion survey
- Health assessment
UK Data Service
European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA)
Available via request from:
The Gateway to Global Aging Data has created several user-friendly datasets based on ELSA data designed to allow researchers to conduct cross-wave and cross-study analysis.