The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (often referred to as the Dunedin Longitudinal Study or just the "Dunedin Study") is a world-renowned long-running cohort study of over 1,000 people born over the course of a year in Dunedin, New Zealand: "the thousand most studied individuals in the world".

History and futureEdit

The study was initiated by Dr. Phil A. Silva, OBE - MA (Hons), PhD, DipTchg, FNZPsS, who had grown up in Roslyn, Dunedin.

The original study members were nearly all of the babies born between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 at what was then called the Queen Mary Hospital in Dunedin who were still living in the wider Otago region three years later. The study members include 535 males and 503 females, 1013 singletons and 12 sets of twins. At the age 38 assessment, the following location facts emerged: only one-third of members (334) still resided in Dunedin, while most of the remainder lived elsewhere in New Zealand (384) and Australia (172); the United Kingdom had 34, the rest of Europe 10, USA 11, and the remaining 14 in Canada, Asia, and the Middle East.[1] Study members were assessed at age three, and then at ages 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32 and, most recently, at age 38 (2010-2012). Future assessments are scheduled for ages 45 and 50. "Phase 45" will start in April 2017.[2]


During an assessment, study members are brought back to Dunedin from wherever in the world they live. They participate in a day of interviews, physical tests, dental examinations, blood tests, computer questionnaires and surveys. Sub-studies of the Dunedin Study include: the Family Health History Study, which involved the parents of Dunedin Study members to find out about the health of family members (2003-2006); the ongoing Parenting Study, which focuses on the Dunedin Study members and their first three-year-old child; and the Next Generation Study, which involves the offspring of Dunedin Study members as they turn 15 and looks at the lifestyles, behaviours, attitudes and health of today's teenagers, and aims to see how these have changed from when the original Study Members were 15 (in 1987-88). This means that information across three generations of the same families will be available.

Great emphasis is placed on retention of study members. At the most recent (age 38) assessments, 96% of all living eligible study members, or 961 people, participated. This is unprecedented for a longitudinal study, with many others worldwide experiencing 20–40% drop-out rates.


The resulting database has produced a wealth of information on many aspects of human health and development. Template:As of over 1,130 papers, reports, book chapters and other publications have been produced using findings from the study. The multidisciplinary aspect of the study has always been a central focus, with information ranging across:

  • Cardiovascular health and risk factors
  • Respiratory health
  • Oral health
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Mental health
  • Psychosocial functioning
  • Other health, including sensory, musculo-skeletal, and digestive

A book, From Child to Adult: Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, was published in 1996 and aimed at presenting the major findings in a form accessible to the non-specialist. It only includes information up to the age-21 assessment. Future plans for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study include another popular science book, upgrading their website for more non-specialist appeal, and introducing more resources for the general public.

Scores of death-row prisoners in the United States were spared execution after evidence from the Dunedin Study helped persuade authorities that 17-year-olds were too young to be fully accountable for murder.

Media reports of resultsEdit

The Dunedin Study Pace of Aging paper has been deemed the 4th top science story in 2015 by Science News.[3]

Research papersEdit

A sample of the publications based on the Dunedin study:


The study has attracted funding from the United States and the United Kingdom.


External linksEdit

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