The Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study

Get in touch with us on 1800 110 711

Frequently Asked Questions

General participation

The names of children born in 1961 were provided by the School Health Service records of all public and private schools in Tasmania in 1968. Health surveys were sent by the schools to parents/guardians of 8,683 children. Surveys were completed and returned for 98.8% (8583) of children. Those children were invited for a medical exam and lung function tests. 8022 children attended, with consent given by parents/guardians.

There are strict research ethics rules around confidentiality which our study must adhere to. It’s great that childhood friends are able to reconnect through our TAHS Facebook page and reunion events, if they have chosen to make themselves known to others. We do encourage people to share the Facebook page with other participants. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to publish or distribute lists or personal details of participants.

The study was initially run by the School Health Service, part of the Tasmanian Government. At that time, sign-up, or consent forms were not generally used. Rather, consent was usually given verbally by a parent or guardian. All current follow ups required participants to consent to their involvement by signing a form after receiving clear information and instructions on that follow up.

 

Participating in the clinic visit will have minimal effects on your health. The side effects of taking a bronchodilator medication (Ventolin) when doing a spirometry test are not common, but it can lead to slightly raised heart rate or tremor in the hands. This should only last for a few minutes. 

There are no direct benefits to you by participating in this study, apart from the possibility of new information about your lung function. A great deal of new knowledge will be made available to the medical community through research publications. A possible benefit you may experience could be when physicians make use of the knowledge generated by the study when caring their patients.

Participating in this study will have no effect on your health (medical) insurance or your access to health care. Participating in this study will have no effect on any life, trauma, or disability insurance policies you currently hold.

Any information that we collect for this research will be treated as confidential. We can disclose the information only with your permission, except as required by law. Privacy and confidentiality of your data will be ensured by storing de-identified data within restricted access, password-protected folder on the University of Melbourne’s server. This means that when storing your data, we will remove your name and give the information a special code number. Only the research team can match your name to its code number if it is necessary to do so.

You can learn about the findings of this study through our participant newsletter. You can also visit our website to learn more about the study and to read our published papers. Alternatively, if you want to read a pdf copy of some of the published papers, you can contact the TAHS project manager, Ms Alice Doherty (email: Doherty.a@unimelb.edu.au)

For your convenience, you can choose to complete the health survey online. You can click on this link to let us know whether you prefer to do a postal health survey or an electronic one.  

If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of this research, which you do not wish to discuss with the research team, you should contact the Research Integrity Administrator, Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010. Tel: +61 8344 1376 or Email: research-integrity@unimelb.edu.au. All complaints will be treated confidentially. Alternatively, you can submit a concern or complaint form anonymously. 

This 7th decade follow-up is focusing on our original recruits born in 1960-1961. However, we may have further follow-ups involving family members, including children, in the future.

Surveys

The health survey asks questions about your general health and well-being, including respiratory illness, sleep conditions, allergies, eczema and mental health. There are also questions about lifestyle and home environment, such as heating and cooking, diet and exercise.

A further clinical questionnaire will also ask more details about your health, including sleep, oral and sexual health and any medications you take.

All aspects of your participation are voluntary, and you do not have to answer any questions you don’t feel comfortable answering. Every answer you give is valuable to our research, but we do offer a ‘prefer not to answer’ option for each question.

The study was initially run by the School Health Service, part of the Tasmanian Government. At that time, sign-up, or consent forms were not generally used. Rather, consent was usually given verbally by a parent or guardian. All current follow ups required participants to consent to their involvement by signing a form after receiving clear information and instructions on that follow up.

 

The TAHS respects the privacy and confidentiality of our participants, as per current ethical rules around research with human participants. Data is de-identified- it will not have your name linked when it is analyzed or used in publications or presentations. We never publish the names of our participants.

You can make an appointment to complete the survey over the phone with one of our trained research assistants if you require.

Clinic Testing

When clinic visits appointments become available in your area, we will send you the at-home survey and instructions on booking your visit. If you have given us your email address, we will email you a secure link to book your visit online. If you are completing a paper or telephone survey, we will call you to book an appointment at a suitable time for you.

First, basic body measurements, such as height and weight, will be taken so that we can interpret the results of the respiratory tests. Then 3 different types of respiratory tests will be carried out to measure different parts of lung function- spirometry, FOT and FeNO. FOT and FeNO tests only require you to breath normally. Spirometry does require forced breathing. Clear guidance will be given by our clinic testers. Hand grip strength will be tested using a simple hand-held device. After that a blood sample will be taken. You may be asked to take home a Blood Pressure Device to measure and record your blood pressure. There will also be a questionnaire to complete on our iPad or on paper (your choice).

 

All aspects of your participation are voluntary. While our clinical assessments are non-invasive, you can decline any tests you are not comfortable with. If you don’t want to have a particular test please inform us of thisbeforehand by emailing inq-tas@unimelb.edu.au or calling 1800 110 711 or let our clinic staff know when you arrive

While our clinical assessments are non-invasive, we do not want you to participate in anything that may negatively impact your health and well-being. If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your GP or other medical practitioner. If they, or you, think there is a test you should not do please inform us beforehand by emailing inq-tas@unimelb.edu.au or calling 1800 110 711, or let our clinic staff know when you arrive. Please also inform us of any medical conditions you have via the TAHS 7th Decade Health Survey questions.

Hobart:

All Calvary sites in Tasmania are Covid-free institutions i.e. they do not admit any Covid positive in-patients except St John’s Hospital. All out-patients (including participants in the TAHS study) must declare they are symptom free, are not isolating or a close contact, or are at least 7 days post a positive test (standard requirements for Tasmania) before attending the hospital site.  All visitors also must provide evidence of immunisation. Everyone is required to wear a mask on-site (patients, visitors, staff), unless this is not practical, such as if you are eating, drinking, or performing tests.  Thus, we believe the risk of Covid exposure is minimal.

Everyone who attends a TAHS clinic will receive the results of their spirometry test (similar to previous follow ups). If you take a blood pressure device home, we will provide you with a guide on how the monitor indicates normal and high blood pressure readings so you have some information when you see your doctor.

If your spirometry test results suggest you may have an illness, we will let you know. We will send you a letter by email or post to take to your GP for further investigation.

CT Scans

CT scans will be performed on a sub-set of participants based on previous lung-function tests. If you are eligible to be part of our CT scan assessment, we will let you know.

Participants in Tasmania will book their CT scans through our office. If you are eligible, we will call you to ask for your availability and will arrange a suitable time.

Everyone who has a CT scan will receive a copy of their results via email or post.

Even if you have no health problems related to your lungs, there is the possibility that the scan will detect some previously unknown abnormalities.  The chance of this happening increases with age and could need further tests to work out if there is a serious health problem. We will notify you of any findings that are clinically important to review and/or manage further- a letter or email explaining this will be sent together with the clinical CT report.  .

Can’t find your answer here? You can send us an inquiry form

You can always contact the TAHS team on inq-tas@unimelb.edu.au or call us on 1800 110 711 (free call within Australia)