Experience of a researcher: Melissa Vos


- by Yara Poel

Melissa Vos works as a scientific researcher ath the University Medical center of Groningen, specifically the Interdisciplary Center of Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE). The add-on study Melissa does with Lifelines, recently finished the data collection phase. Melissa’s research is on ADHD and comorbid disorders named:” CoCA – Comorbid Conditions of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder”. In an interview we asked Melissa about her research and her experiences with Lifelines.

What is the reason you conducted research on ADHD and co-occurring disorders?
Psychiatric disorders are one of the last areas of medicine where disease classifications are driven by symptoms, rather than the underlying cause. A better understanding of the mechanisms common to comorbid disorders can be used to develop innovative, personalized treatment for patients with multiple disorders. This is important because ADHD and its comorbid disorders together create a huge burden for health care, society in general, and the economy.

Why did you choose to utilize Lifelines data?
Most ADHD research is conducted with children. We know far less about how ADHD presents itself in older individuals. Lifelines includes a lot of adults, giving us the opportunity to examine this less well known group in terms of ADHD. We use Lifelines as part of a larger project that received funding from the EU. For this project various experimental and epidemiologic study designs with very large datasets are integrated to examine common mechanisms of ADHD and comorbid disorders. In addition to Lifelines, large population studies from Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Estonia are used. This collaboration enhances the expertise that is present within the project and ensures that findings are of broader interest and partly generalizable across Europe.

How did Lifelines and Lifelines data contribute to your research?
Lifelines provided us with the opportunity to have Lifelines collect data on ADHD and comorbid problems. Given that Lifelines already collected her own data, we only had to pay for the additional data collection. While still costly for us, it would have been financially impossible to set up a study such as Lifelines ourselves. 

What is your opinion on the communication with Lifelines? 
In my opinion the application and data access processes are very easy. All processes are clearly outlined and Lifelines is very fast, clear and open in the communication. 

Would you recommend Lifelines to other researchers or organizations? If so, why?
I would surely recommend Lifelines. Even after the data are made available, Lifelines is fast to respond to questions and requests. Furthermore Lifelines likes to help think of solutions  when problems occur. Researchers that want to work with Lifelines should be aware that for some questionnaires a lot of different versions were used, which is not always clear at first hand and might complicate analyses. Also, Lifelines have to clean the data and check their validity themselves, but this is inherent to doing good research.