All about data


All data collected from Lifelines participants are of great value to researchers and policy makers. To ensure the validity and reliability of the data over time, safe data storage and good data management are essential. Lifelines data management strives to act according to the FAIR principles of data management.

Our data resulting from questionnaires, measurements and lab analyses are safely stored in our data warehouse. Lifelines data management strives to act according to the FAIR principles of data management. When you have applied for data, you will gain access to these data via a secure virtual working environment. The data is pseudonymised to guarantee the participants’ privacy.  

Questionnaire data

Lifelines questionnaires cover a broad range of topics, e.g. general information like education and work; health questions related to medication use; questions regarding lifestyle and environment like nutrition, smoking and physical activity; and psychosocial questions covering topics like well-being, personality and stress. Questionnaires differ per age category: for children up to 13 years old, questionnaires are filled in by their parents, while children aged 13 up to and including 17 years old, answer questions themselves and have a parent fill in the questionnaires. All adults, 18 years and older, receive identical questionnaires. Some additional questions are added to questionnaires for participants aged 65 or higher.


Since the beginning of the coronavirus in March, a large-scale research into the risk factors for the coronavirus COVID-19 is being started in the Northern Netherlands. To this end, around 135,000 Northern residents receive a bi-weekly questionnaire (>30% response). Their answers will be linked to data from the Lifelines biobank to identify both hereditary and environmental factors that partially determine whether someone may fall seriously ill due to the coronavirus or simply develop mild symptoms.

So far 14 questionnaires have been sent out, resulting in over 500.000 returned questionnaires. This unique data collection is available for researchers worldwide.

Learn more about the COVID19-data

How to apply for data

Lifelines provides easy access to data and biosamples for research on healthy ageing. Please read the application process carefully. The Lifelines data capture process is an ongoing process which makes our dataset grow continuously. An updated “snapshot” of the data is periodically created to be used in research. This snapshot is called a Lifelines Data Release. When you apply for data, you will gain access to the requested dataset based on the latest data release.  

If you have applied for data, you will have access to this data via a secure virtual working environment called Workspace or Lifelines UMCG high performance cluster. The data applied for is issued in SPSS and csv files. The data is pseudonymised to guarantee privacy. The most common statistical programs (SPSS, R, R studio and, on request STATA) have been installed in the Workspace. Read more about the data services here.

Searching for specific data?

Although our collection is broad, you might need something specific for your research. The Lifelines cohort study has an open protocol. This allows researchers to issue an additional questionnaire or measurement or to collect additional biosamples in a specific group of participants. You can also combine two data sources through linkage or use secondary data.

How can we help?

We are happy to assist you with filling out a research data management plan (RDMP) if requested by your grant provider. Also we are available for questions regarding the Lifelines data during the execution of your research project.