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Frequently Asked Questions

What will TILDA change about growing older in Ireland?

TILDA will help Ireland solve the problems we will face as the population lives longer. In time its results will influence key policy decisions affecting the country’s living standards and overall well-being. The study will provide an in-depth picture of the ageing population and identify its needs. Hopefully it will lead to the development of a range of innovative products and services, such as assistive technology, improved personal and social services, better financial products and advice, and new medical treatments.

How were participants chosen?

Over 25,000 addresses were selected at random from all parts of the country to participate in this study. An interviewer visited each of these addresses and all persons aged 50 or over, and their spouses, were asked to participate. Over 8,500 people took part in Wave 1 of the study and these people will be followed over a ten year period.

What does 'longitudinal' mean?

A longitudinal survey means that the same participants will be visited on several occasions over a number of years (in TILDA’s case, once every two years). This will allow us to build a picture of how individual and family circumstances, health and lifestyles change over time.

Who is conducting the study?

The study is being carried out by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with an inter-disciplinary panel of scientific researchers, with expertise in various fields of ageing, from Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

What happens if someone agrees to participate but changes their mind later on?

Participants are free to withdraw at any time from the study without giving us a reason. They are also welcome to discuss any concerns they might have with us.

Why does TILDA ask about participants’ income and assets?

It is very important for our study to assess people’s standard of living and what they can afford as they grow older. Therefore we need good information about people’s financial situation. We fully realise that people can be sensitive about these issues. However, it is really important for our study to get good information about financial matters. Of course, like all the information participants give, answers to these questions will be anonymised, kept strictly confidential and only used for research purposes. They will not be passed on in an identifiable way to any other organisation or individual.

How is participants’ privacy protected?

TILDA will maintain strict measures to protect confidentiality. Each participant will have their own unique identification number. With the exception of the document that contains personal information, which will always be handled separately, all other information will be anonymised – this means any information which can identify participants, such as their name and address or date of birth, is taken off the data and samples and is stored separately. We will only grant access to this anonymised data for ethically and scientifically approved research.

Does the use of laptops affect the security of participants’ information?

Access to the interview system is controlled by a password. All interview data on the laptop is automatically encrypted, or stored in a format which would be meaningless to any unauthorised person who looked at it. Laptops used during the Health Assessments are also password protected and all the data collected will also be anonymised and automatically encrypted.

Are the results confidential?

Only authorised people are allowed to see the study data, which will be anonymised to protect each participant’s identity. Researchers must only use the data for statistical purposes. Your information will be combined with information from other people to prepare summary statistics about groups. TILDA will ensure that no individual can ever be identified when the results are published. Once participants’ information is entered into the database, individual details such as their name will be deleted to ensure privacy. The study has been approved by the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee in Trinity College Dublin, which checks that proper safeguards are in place in accordance with Data Protection regulations.

How will the data be stored?

All data and samples collected will be anonymised, linked and stored to very high standards of security. Blood samples taken for long-term storage will be sent to a highly accredited lab and stored to a very high standard of security. The personal identifying information will be separated from all participants’ data and samples and linked using a code that has no external meaning.

How long will TILDA be holding this data?

The results of the study will be stored securely for a minimum of ten years.

How will information be used?

To develop an environment for ageing well we need to characterise the older Irish resident and explore factors which determine successful ageing. This can only be done with the help of a nationally representative survey of the older population that will act as the foundation on which we can plan appropriate health, medical, social and economic policies. The proposed study would provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of the characteristics, needs and contributions of older persons in Ireland that would be invaluable for:

  • policy-makers and public sector service planners
  • voluntary sector actors engaged in activities that seek to enhance the social integration of older citizens
  • many private sector companies in the research and development, pharmaceutical and services industries

How do participants know that this is a legitimate survey?

A verification process will be undertaken whereby the interviewers will provide participants’ local Garda station with their credentials. All interviewers will also carry photographic identification. Participants were encouraged to ask them to show this before allowing them access to their homes.

How can I get more information about TILDA?

For general queries you may call our office at 01 896 2509.