This large-scale population study, Southall and Brent Revisited (SABRE), is looking into the links between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in particular why diabetes is more common in certain ethnic groups. By understanding the causes and trends of these conditions, they hope to prevent and treat these conditions more effectively in the future.

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.

What happened?

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, again between 2014 and 2019, and again in a fourth wave following the Covid-19 pandemic. 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. The original baseline study alone was able to demonstrate important findings such as the high prevalence of diabetes and abdominal obesity in British South Asians, and potential causes of the high risk of stroke in African Caribbean women. 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.

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. 

SABRE has a dedicated page about their data use, including all of the documents where they have outlined the details of this for participants. You can find this here:

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 has been funded by a number of different organisations for each wave:

  • Baseline: the Medical Research Council, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation.
  • Wave 2:the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation
  • Wave 3: the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK
  • Wave 4 (COVID): UK Research and Innovation, National Institute for Health and Care Research

Where can I go for more information?