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The Rotterdam Study


The Rotterdam Study is a prospective cohort study that started in 1990 in Ommoord, a suburb of Rotterdam, among 10,994, men and women aged 55 and over.  The main objective of the Rotterdam Study is to investigate the prevalence and incidence of and risk factors for chronic diseases in the elderly. The chronic diseases of interest are cardiovascular, neurological, locomotor and ophthalmologic diseases. The findings from the Rotterdam Study will hopefully contribute to a better prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in the elderly.

Baseline measurements were obtained between 1990 and 1993. All participants were subsequently examined in follow-up examination rounds every 2-3 years. The results from the Rotterdam Study have been published extensively in both the national and international scientific literature (see below).


Study design

The Rotterdam Study is a single center population-based follow-up study conducted in the suburb of Ommoord in Rotterdam.

All inhabitants aged 55 years or over were invited (n=10,275). In total 7,983 subjects (4,878 women and 3,105 men) participated (78 %), including 897 subjects living in one of the six homes for the elderly. The baseline study comprised of an home interview followed by two visits at the research centre for clinical examinations. In 2002 another 3,011 particpants (55 years of age since 1990) were added to the cohort which now comprises a total of 10,994 subjects.


Main diseases
The Rotterdam Study addresses the following questions:
Main diseases
The Rotterdam Study addresses the following questions:
Cardiovascular diseases
What are the determinants of presence and progression of atherosclerotic vessel wall abnormalities and of occurrence of cardiovascular disease and what is the role of disturbances in hemostatic function ?  Is progression of atherosclerosis in asymptomatic elderly subjects a prelude to cardiovascular events ?
Neurologic diseases
What is the prevalence and incidence of various types of dementia and of Parkinson's disease, and which are the determinants?
Loco motor diseases
What is the prevalence and incidence of vertebral and hip fractures and its determinants ? What are the determinants of bone mineral density ?
Opthalmic diseases
What is the prevalence and incidence of age-related macula degeneration and of glaucoma, and which are the determinants ?
Eye examination
In the Rotterdam Study information was obtained by questionnaire on current health status, medical history, smoking habits, socio-economic status, current drug use (ATC-classification), use of medical facilities, dietary habits, alcohol consumption, and physical activity. During the two visits at the research centre several measurements were performed: cognitive function, indicators for Parkinson's disease, Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (bone mineral density), X-rays of hands, thoraco-lumbar spine, hips and knees, an extensive ophthalmologic examination, ultrasound assessment of cardiac dimensions, diameter of the abdominal aorta, carotid arterial wall thickness and plaques thickness, a computerized ECG, blood pressure readings (brachial artery, posterior tibial artery), anthropometry, limited physical examination. A venous blood sample was taken and a glucose tolerance test was performed.
Baseline data collection was performed from October 1990 to July 1993. Since then all participants have been reexamined every 2-3 years. Morbidity and mortality is registered through general practitioners practises. Events are coded according to the International Classification for Primary Care (ICPC) and tenth edition of the International Classification of Disease (ICD) using clinical information obtained from the general practitioner and hospital discharge records.

For the Rotterdam Study publications

PubMed M Breteler Click on the icon for all publications



Financial contributors

Akzo Nobel
Alzheimer’s Association
Astra Pharmaceutial N.V.
Bayer AG
Blindenpenning Foundation, Amsterdam
Brainfoundation of the Netherlands

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Center of Medical Systems Biology (CMSB)
Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation
Dutch Kidney Foundation
Dutch Arthritis Association
Elise Mathilde Foundation, Maarn
Erasmus Medical Center
Erasmus University Rotterdam
European Commission
Foundation for Helping the Blind, The Hague
Foundation for the Ophthalmic Diseased, Rotterdam
Foundation G.Ph. Verhagen
General Electric Healthcare
Glaxo Smith Kline
International Foundation Alzheimer’s Research
Inspectorate for Health Care
Janivo Foundation
K.F. Hein Foundation
Merck Sharp & Dohme, Haarlem
Municipality of City of Rotterdam
National Epilepsy Fund
National Health Fundraising Foundation
National Institute on Aging, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA
National Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired (LSBS)
Netherlands Foundation for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
Netherlands Heart Foundation
Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences (Nihes)
Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute
Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw)
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Netherlands Society for the Prevention of Blindness
Netherlands Thrombosis Foundation
Novo Nordisk
Numico Research B.V.
OOG Foundation, The Hague
N.V. Organon
Optimix Foundation, Amsterdam
Physicotherapeutic Institute
Prinses Beatrix Foundation
Procter & Gamble
Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly (RIDE)
Rotterdam Foundation for Ophthalmic Research
Rotterdam Foundation for the Interests of the Blind
St Laurens Institute, Rotterdam
Topcon Europe B.V.
Trustfund Erasmus University Rotterdam
Van Leeuwen Van Lignac Foundation, Rotterdam


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