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The Swiss National Cohort 2.0: a platform for longitudinal research in Switzerland

English title The Swiss National Cohort 2.0: a platform for longitudinal research in Switzerland
Applicant Egger Matthias
Number 148415
Funding scheme Cohort Studies Large
Research institution Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine University of Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Start/End 01.07.2014 - 30.06.2018
Approved amount 2'850'320.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Medical Statistics

Keywords (9)

record linkage; life expectancy; health-surveys; cancer; socio-economic differentials in health; cohort study; census; cardiovascular disease; mortality

Lay Summary (German)

Die Swiss National Cohort (SNC) ist eine Kohorte , mit der die Sterblichkeit der Schweizer Bevölkerung in Abhängigkeit von unterschiedlichen Risikofaktoren untersucht wird. In der laufenden Forschungsperiode werden relevante Fragen im Bereich der öffentlichen Gesundheit, etwa zu Umwelteinflüssen oder geografischen Unterschieden im Zentrum stehen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele:  Die SNC basiert auf einer Verbindung der anonymen Daten der Volkszählungen 1990 und 2000 mit den Todesfällen ab 1990. Sie beinhaltet detaillierte Informationen zu sozialen, ökonomischen und kulturellen Charakteristiken der Bevölkerung sowie geographische Angaben zu den Wohnverhältnissen. In der laufenden Forschungsperiode wird die SNC die neue register-basierte Volkszählung 2010 einbinden und künftig wird sie jährlich aktualisiert.  Auch Weitere Datenquellen sollen anonym eingebunden werden. Dies ermöglicht die Untersuchung eines breiten Spektrums offener Fragen, wobei für die laufende Periode die umwelt- und berufsbedingte Einflüsse auf die Gesundheit,  soziale Epidemiologie und Gesundheitsversorgung, Krebs, Erkrankungen des Herz-/Kreislaufsystems und der Atemwege, tödliche Unfälle sowie Tötungsdelikte im Fokus stehen.  

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext: Die SNC ist eine für die Schweiz einzigartige Forschungsplattform, da sie die gesamte Schweizer Bevölkerung seit 1990 abdeckt und detaillierte Informationen zur individuellen Charakteristiken, aber auch geografische Angaben zu den Wohnverhältnissen beinhaltet. So können verschiedenste gesundheitspolitische Fragestellungen angegangen und gesundheitliche Risiken besser beurteilt werden. Die anonyme Verbindung mit anderen Datenquellen erweitert die möglichen Fragestellungen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 16.05.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160171 Have factors associated with suicides assisted by right-to-die organisations in Switzerland changed during the recent increase in the years 2009 to 2013? 01.05.2015 Project funding
134273 The Swiss National Cohort: a platform for longitudinal research in Switzerland 01.07.2011 Cohort Studies Large
163452 Socio-Economic Position, Pregnancy Outcomes and Infant Mortality: The Swiss National Cohort 01.07.2016 Project funding (special)
173043 Investigating the interplay of job exposures, ambient air pollution and living environment as drivers of the chronic lung disease epidemic The Large-scale LuftiBus-SNC Cohort 01.01.2018 Project funding (special)


Background: The Swiss National Cohort (SNC) is an ongoing longitudinal study of the entire resident population, which is based on the linkage of census with mortality records and other databases, for example on environmental exposures or cancer registries. The SNC includes detailed data on social, economic, and cultural factors and geographical and physical characteristics, both at the individual, household and the building level. Since the SNC is based on population-based registers that are virtually complete it can serve as a reference cohort and enrich analyses of other cohorts. The SNC is run by investigators from the Universities of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich and the data are available to other interested parties.Aims: The SNC is a research platform with an evolving, multi-faceted research program. In the new grant periods we will continue to address important public health issues, with a focus on research questions in a) Environmental and occupational health, b) Social epidemiology and health services, c) Cancer in adults and children, d) Cardiovascular and respiratory health and e) Injury, fatal traffic accidents and homicides. Illustrative examples of research questions include: How do environmental pollutants interact with socio-economic factors? What is the association between individual-level taxable income and wealth and mortality? Is there spatial and spatio-temporal clustering of childhood cancer and childhood leukemia? Is the risk of cancer increased in women undergoing treatment for infertility and their offspring? What is the shape of the association between body mass index (BMI) and mortality from cardiovascular and other causes? Can a set of "soft" risk factors based on social, self-perceived health, stress and wellbeing be defined to predict cardiovascular mortality? What is the better predictor of mortality, the commonly used percent predicted Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (ppFEV1) or the more accessible absolute FEV1? What are the causes of death and life expectancy in patients with spinal cord injuries? What are the socio-demographic and socio-economic factors associated with perpetrators and victims of homicides and homicide-suicides?Methods: The current SNC 1.0 is based on probabilistic linkages of the 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses, with mortality follow-up to the year 2008, with 7.29 million people and >100 million person-years of follow-up. We will develop version 2.0 of the SNC by probabilistically linking SNC 1.0 to the new Registry Based Census 2010 and from then deterministically linking the annual censuses with mortality, live birth and marriage registries, using a unique pseudo ID. We will link comprehensive, geocoded environmental exposure data on air pollution, transportation noise, magnetic fields, ionizing radiation, climate, and green and blue spaces to each individual, based on place of residence. Other databases to be linked in the new grant period include household-level tax data from several cantons (1.8-3.1 million people), the assisted reproduction register FIVNAT (over 10,000 newborns since 1993), the Zurich lung function survey (118,891 volunteers since 1993), the National Health Survey (19,706 persons in 2002), the Swiss Homicide Registry (1,464 victims, 1,403 offenders 1991-2004), the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort (4,380 persons) and the Microcensus Mobility and Transport (27,918 households, 29,407 persons in 2000). Cox and Weibull models are used in standard analyses, which are complemented by parametric survival models to directly estimate differences in life expectancy and hierarchical models for the analysis of rates and life expectancy for small areas. Specialized statistical methods are used to examine spatial and spatio-temporal clustering.Scientific potential and impact: The national coverage of the SNC coupled with the availability of individual-level exposure data on the entire Swiss population, the precise geographical data on the place of residence, which allows the study of environmental exposures, and the linkage to other studies and databases make the SNC a unique resource with great scientific potential and public health impact.