IOA has spearheaded vibrant advances in the science of aging and life course studies through its MIDUS research.
MIDUS (Midlife in the United States) is a landmark national longitudinal study that began in 1995.
- includes lifespan data on 11,000+ US adults, initially aged 25-74
- tracks longitudinal change with repeated assessments since 1995– many have been in the study for nearly 30 years
- assesses over 25,000 variables in multiple domains, linking psychosocial and behavioral factors to biomedical and neurological assessments
- is led by IOA with collaborators from multiple U.S. universities.
Scientific Advances from IOA’s MIDUS Study
MIDUS provided the first comprehensive description of midlife in the United States:
- Before MIDUS, midlife (years between 30 & 70, with 40-60 at its core) was not well studied, even though it is the longest segment of the life course.
- MIDUS recognized the importance of gaining a truer understanding of this period, since midlife is a time of notable responsibility for work and family, which is of critical importance to society.
- Some initial findings appeared in the book, How Healthy Are We: A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife, published in 2004.
MIDUS changed the focus of aging research so that it now includes pathways leading to health and well-being:
- Before MIDUS, most aging research was restricted to older samples and focused on disease and decline.
- MIDUS is one of few studies funded by the federal government that covers the expanse of midlife and looks for protective factors that help Americans age well.
MIDUS has made clear that a truer understanding of aging requires a multidisciplinary, long-term approach:
- MIDUS was one of the first national studies to recognize that multiple factors interact to influence how people age– aging thus cannot be fully understood by conducting research within the bounds of any one scientific discipline.
- Instead, MIDUS includes researchers from multiple fields, gathering data on how psychological, social, and behavioral factors interact with biological, neurological, and genetic factors to illuminate who ages well and why, and who does not, and why.
- MIDUS promotes an integrative science that works across, rather than within, traditional disciplinary boundaries.
- Some of the results from this part of MIDUS appeared in the book, The Oxford Handbook of Integrative Health Science, published in 2018.
The science of aging has been advanced in multiple arenas by making MIDUS data available to all researchers.
By the time of our 50th Anniversary:
- 26,000+ researchers world wide have used the publicly available data
- 1800+ publications using MIDUS data have appeared in 450+ scientific journals
- 35+ topic areas have been analyzed in MIDUS articles (see chart)
- 300+ cross-study analyses have compared MIDUS data to other studies
- 275+ dissertations/theses have used MIDUS data.
The future of MIDUS:
- We are happy to report that in late 2022, IOA received another $62 million in funding from the National Institute on Aging to continue the MIDUS study for another 6 years.
- This will include another round of comprehensive assessments as well as new foci on Alzheimer’s disease and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- See the MIDUS Achievements report for more details.