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GERDA (Gerontological Regional Database)

Research group GERDA is a cross-border and interdisciplinary research collaboration between Umeå University, Sweden, Åbo Akademi University, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Åland University of Applied Sciences, Finland.

GERDA is a longitudinal population study among old and very old adults.  GERDA aims to investigate health and living conditions in the Kvarken region and on Åland, as well as to understand good ageing and threats to good ageing. GERDA consists of data collected from home visits (>85 years) and through surveys (65 years and older). So far, we have included approx. 2,200 individuals in the home visit material and > 32,000 individuals in the survey material in four different data collections in each material.

GERDA consists of collected data from home visits and surveys:

Home visits were offered to approx. 3,000 people aged 85, 90 and 95 or older (85-107 years) from the year 2000 in Umeå and in 2002 in five depopulation municipalities in Västerbotten's county. Every five years, the same individuals have been asked to participate again and at the same time, new participants in each age group have been included until the year 2017. Similar data was collected in four municipalities in western Finland in 2005-2010.

The home visits included structured interviews and assessments with validated instruments for old adults regarding, for example, cognition, depressive symptoms, delirium, morale or psychological well-being, quality of life, dependence in activities of daily living (ADL), physical activity and nutritional status. Information on education, housing, perceived social isolation, financial status, social contacts, self-rated health, medications, and illnesses was also assessed and recorded. Relatives and/or nursing staff were also interviewed if necessary. A careful review of medical records was also carried out in connection with the home visit. Diagnosing was performed similarly in all four data collections by an experienced geriatrician who reviewed all documentation from the interviews and medical records.

Questionnaires were sent out by post to > 45,000 people aged 65 to 90 in all municipalities in Västerbotten and Ostrobothnia (incl. Southern Ostrobothnia) in Finland 2005, 2010, 2016 and 2021. In 2021, Åland was also included. 2005 and 2010 were cross-sectional samples, but in 2010 the questionnaires were coded, which enabled follow-up at an individual level in later data collections.

Data in the questionnaire surveys included factors such as background data, social relationships, employment and activities, self-perceived health, functional capacity and well-being, ageism and age discrimination, social capital, community services and perceptions of their quality, physical activity, finances, autonomy and dependence, inner strength, experiences of loneliness and security.

Head of research

Birgitta Olofsson
Professor, combined with clinical employment


Latest update: 2023-09-22