The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project is co-hosted by the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales and has been led by Professor Anstey since 2006. It is a large on-going population-based longitudinal cohort study comprising approximately 7500 participants. The study includes three cohorts including a younger (aged 20 – 24 at baseline), midlife (aged 40 – 44 at baseline) and older (aged 60 – 64 at baseline) adults randomly sampled from the electoral roll of the ACT and the nearby city of Queanbeyan. Additional waves of data collection have occurred in 4‑year increments, with the 5th wave of data collection underway. The study involves many national and international collaborations.
The broad aims of the PATH study relate to clinical outcomes that constitute the major burden of disease within the Australian community.
Primary PATH Objectives:
- To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability with increasing age across the adult life span
- To identify environmental risk, genetic risk and protective factors influencing individual differences in the course of these characteristics
- To investigate interrelationships over time between the three domains of: depression and anxiety, substance use, and cognitive ability and dementia
- To examine the mental health related impact of various personal, social and lifestyle transitions and events experienced by the different age cohorts, including infertility, fertility and pregnancy, changes in family structure, relationship formation and separation, menopause, and retirement.
Several design features of the PATH project contribute to its unique standing among population-based longitudinal cohort studies.
- Obtaining measures of genetic, biological (including MRI), psychosocial and lifestyle risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing
- Use of a narrow age cohort design with longitudinal follow ups as an optimal means of separating age and cohort effects
- Assessment of participants across the full adult lifespan, permitting investigation of developmentally significant, though under-studied periods such as midlife
- Recruitment and follow up of a young-old population, providing important pre-clinical data for studying the development of age-related changes in memory and cognition.
This project has been funded primarily by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Wave 5 40s and 60s follow-ups (led by Professor Kaarin Anstey) are funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research.
For more information, please visit the study website at www.pathstudy.org.au. PATH participants can also contact the research team by phone on 1300 917 295.