Cohort Study

A cohort study is a form of medical research employed to determine the causes of diseases and establish relationships between the risk factors and health outcomes of the disease. Cohort stands for a group of people. The cohort study design is the most effective scientific approach to measure the effects of a possible risk factor. In retrospective cohort studies, researchers raise questions and create a hypothesis regarding the possible causes of disease. They then examine a group of people referred to as a cohort, over a given period (Colditz& Hankinson, 2015).It can be several years to collect data that may help define the disease. As a result, they are aiming to detect any changes in health that are associated with the potential risk factors identified. For instance, scientists may ask the participants to note specific lifestyle detail over a given study period (Colditz, Manso, & Hankinson, 2017).This can help in the analysis of a potential correlation between lifestyle factors and the disease.

One of the well-known cohort studies is the Nurses’ Health Study. This is a large, long-running examination of women’s health, initially started in 1976 to study the long term impacts of the use of oral contraceptives. The second generation of cohorts for the Nurses’ Health Study II was recruited in 1989. The third generation of cohorts which including people from Canada and the United States were recruited in 2010. In the NHS, the nurses were mostly married women between the ages of 30 to 55 (Colditz, Manso, & Hankinson, 2017). In NHS II and III, the main focus was to examine a more diverse cohort that included women between the ages of 20 and 46. Many essential insights regarding health and wellbeing have been gained by researchers who use the data retrieved from the Nurses’ Health Study. From the study, it has been reported that nuts can protect against heart diseases. It has also been found that weight gain in early adulthood is associated with health risks at a later stage in life.

Since the Nurses’ Health Study asks participants regarding lifestyle choices, it has collected a lot of information about the benefits and harms of several factors including the specific type of foods in the diet. The data obtained from the study has increased understanding of the health of women. Cohort studies such as the NHS are also vital to finding relationships between health and environmental factors like food, water, and air (Colditz, Manso, & Hankinson, 2017). Collecting information from different studies can help increase the sample size hence make the result more reliable, particularly for rare conditions like cancer types.



Colditz, G. A., &Hankinson, S. E. (2015). The Nurses’ Health Study: lifestyle and health among women. Nature Reviews Cancer, 5(5), 388.

Colditz, G. A., Manson, J. E., & Hankinson, S. E. (2017). The Nurses’ Health Study: 20-year contribution to the understanding of health among women. Journal of Women’s Health, 6(1), 49-62.

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