Bringing the study home: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging’s Home Visits Program

The Challenge 

The National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), the world’s most comprehensive and longest running study of aging, collects data on the physical and cognitive status of 1,300 older adults at regular intervals.

As the study has proceeded, some participants have moved out of the Baltimore area, or have experienced physical problems and/or mental decline that prevent them from visiting the study clinic for scheduled health evaluations. The potential for loss of valuable information about the aging process due to missed study clinic visits was the impetus for the NIA to request developing a program to continue data collection on study participants in their homes.

Our Solutions 

  • Westat designed the home visit program for the BLSA, which involved hiring and training examiners to perform a comprehensive cognitive battery, a limited physician exam (blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight), a measurement of grip strength, and a short physical performance battery.
  • Each year, the examiners conducted 50 to 75 home visits throughout the U.S.

The Results 

  • Information about participants who become unable to go to the clinic will be included in the BLSA, which will give researchers and policymakers a more comprehensive understanding of the normal aging process.