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      Comparison of Sociodemographic and Health-Related Characteristics of UK Biobank Participants With Those of the General Population


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          The UK Biobank cohort is a population-based cohort of 500,000 participants recruited in the United Kingdom (UK) between 2006 and 2010. Approximately 9.2 million individuals aged 40–69 years who lived within 25 miles (40 km) of one of 22 assessment centers in England, Wales, and Scotland were invited to enter the cohort, and 5.5% participated in the baseline assessment. The representativeness of the UK Biobank cohort was investigated by comparing demographic characteristics between nonresponders and responders. Sociodemographic, physical, lifestyle, and health-related characteristics of the cohort were compared with nationally representative data sources. UK Biobank participants were more likely to be older, to be female, and to live in less socioeconomically deprived areas than nonparticipants. Compared with the general population, participants were less likely to be obese, to smoke, and to drink alcohol on a daily basis and had fewer self-reported health conditions. At age 70–74 years, rates of all-cause mortality and total cancer incidence were 46.2% and 11.8% lower, respectively, in men and 55.5% and 18.1% lower, respectively, in women than in the general population of the same age. UK Biobank is not representative of the sampling population; there is evidence of a “healthy volunteer” selection bias. Nonetheless, valid assessment of exposure-disease relationships may be widely generalizable and does not require participants to be representative of the population at large.

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          The term "selection bias" encompasses various biases in epidemiology. We describe examples of selection bias in case-control studies (eg, inappropriate selection of controls) and cohort studies (eg, informative censoring). We argue that the causal structure underlying the bias in each example is essentially the same: conditioning on a common effect of 2 variables, one of which is either exposure or a cause of exposure and the other is either the outcome or a cause of the outcome. This structure is shared by other biases (eg, adjustment for variables affected by prior exposure). A structural classification of bias distinguishes between biases resulting from conditioning on common effects ("selection bias") and those resulting from the existence of common causes of exposure and outcome ("confounding"). This classification also leads to a unified approach to adjust for selection bias.
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                Author and article information

                Am J Epidemiol
                Am. J. Epidemiol
                American Journal of Epidemiology
                Oxford University Press
                01 November 2017
                21 June 2017
                21 June 2017
                : 186
                : 9
                : 1026-1034
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to Dr. Thomas J. Littlejohns, Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (e-mail: thomas.littlejohns@ 123456ndph.ox.ac.uk ).
                Abbreviations: HSE, Health Survey for England; ICD-10, International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision; UK, United Kingdom.
                © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 16 March 2017
                : 08 June 2017
                : 08 June 2017
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Funded by: Wellcome Trust 10.13039/100004440
                Funded by: Medical Research Council 10.13039/501100000265
                Funded by: United Kingdom Department of Health
                Funded by: Scottish Government
                Funded by: Welsh Assembly Government
                Funded by: British Heart Foundation 10.13039/501100000274
                Funded by: Diabetes UK 10.13039/501100000361
                Study Design

                Public health
                cancer,lifestyle,mortality,representativeness,sociodemographic characteristics,uk biobank


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