Why was this work needed?
Since 1996, the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled. This is a pressing health issue for the UK and it is critical to learn more about the causes of this disease to help understand how to prevent it. In particular, health care professionals and researchers want to understand why diabetes seems to affect different groups of people in different ways.
In 1988, 5,000 people of European, South Asian and African Caribbean origin living in North-West London were recruited onto the SABRE study. This work looks at the causes of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as the reasons why some people stay well in older age and why some people experience illness and disability. Participants were followed up between 2008 and 2011, and are now being invited to attend a 25 year follow up. Researchers collected a variety of information on those studied, including health and lifestyle surveys, blood pressure measurements and GP and hospital health records.
What were the benefits?
The SABRE study is ongoing and continues to provide new insights into diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. In particular, it has contributed significantly to our understanding of how ethnicity can affect the risk of developing diabetes. It has shown that 50 per cent of people with South Asian, African and African-Caribbean origins will develop diabetes by the time they are 80. This kind of information is invaluable in targeting specific groups with prevention messages and early diagnosis initiatives.
What type of data was involved?
Data was collected from GP and hospital records, as well as directly from the study participants.
What was the legal basis for accessing the data?
Participants gave their consent for data to be collected from GP records (this was de-personalised and was not linked to identifiable information) and for the data that they had given directly to be used in the research.
Data from hospital records was provided by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (now NHS Digital), under a Section 251 approval. Hospital record linkage is conducted within NHS Digital.
Who funded and collaborated on this work?
SABRE is run by a team based at University College London with support from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford and Washington (Seattle, USA). It is funded by the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome.