The PATH Through Life project is a 20 year longitudinal cohort study of 7,485 young (aged 20-24 at baseline), midlife (aged 40-44 at baseline) and older (aged 60-64 at baseline) adults randomly sampled from the electoral roll of the Australian Capital Territory and the nearby city of Queanbeyan.
The original aims of the project are outlined below.

  • To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability with increasing age across the adult life span.
  • To identify environmental risk, genetic risk and protective factors influencing individual differences in the course of these characteristics.
  • To investigate interrelationships over time between the three domains of: depression and anxiety, substance use, and cognitive ability and dementia.
  • Data collection has occurred at four intervals (4 waves), at approximately four year intervals with a good participant retention rate. The fifth wave of data collection is commencing in 2017.
    Several design features of the PATH project contribute to its unique standing among population based longitudinal cohort studies.
  • Obtaining measures of genetic, biological (including MRI), psychosocial and lifestyle risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing.
  • Use of a narrow age cohort design with longitudinal follow ups as an optimal means of separating age and cohort effects.
  • Assessment of participants across the full adult lifespan, permitting investigation of developmentally significant, but under studied periods such as midlife
  • Recruitment and follow up of a young-old population, providing important pre-clinical data for studying the development of age related changes in memory and cognition.

Last update – 12/01/2017