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The Rotterdam Study


The Rotterdam Elderly Study is a prospective cohort study in the Ommoord district in the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands [Hofman et al., 1991]. Following the pilot in 1989, recruitment started in January 1990. The main objectives of the Rotterdam Study were to investigate the risk factors of cardiovascular, neurological, ophthalmological and endocrine diseases in the elderly. Up to 2008, approximately 15,000 subjects aged 45 years or over have been recruited. Participants were interviewed at home and went through an extensive set of examinations, bone mineral densiometry, including sample collections for in-depth molecular and genetic analyses. Examinations were repeated every 3-4 years in potentially changing characteristics. Participants were followed for the most common diseases in the elderly, including coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, depression and anxiety disorders, macular degeneration and glaucoma, diabetes mellitus and osteoporosis.

Since 1999, the Rotterdam Study is approved by a special permit issued by the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport of The Netherlands (under Article 3 of the Population Screening Act (the WBO, in Dutch)). As such, the Rotterdam Study is exempted from obtaining separate IRB approvals for the sub-studies that are conducted within the framework of the Rotterdam Study. All studies conducted within the Rotterdam Study, including the Rotterdam Scan Study, are being notified to the Ministry, which then judges whether that specific study addition requires a permit.

The Rotterdam Study is directed by a Management Team comprising the scientific principal investigators, the Study Coordinator, head IT , head data management and the managing director Health Sciences.

The recent updated design article can be find by the following link:

The Rotterdam Study: 2014 objectives and design update.

Rotterdam Study have been published extensively in both the national and international scientific literature.


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?
Locomotor 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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