Introduction As a result of immigration, European societies are becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. In health (care) studies, however, ethnic minorities are usually excluded. There is now a growing awareness that it is necessary to redress the balance and initiate studies among ethnic minority populations as well. This applies in particular to population-based cohort studies. Therefore, a large multi-ethnic cohort study is being set up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands: HELIUS (Healthy Life in an Urban Setting). It aims to unravel the causes of the unequal burden of diseases across ethnic groups. The emphasis will be on the major contributors to the global burden of disease: cardiovascular disease, depression, and infectious diseases.
Methods HELIUS includes ethnic Dutch, and those of Surinamese (ie, South Asian and Afro Caribbean), Turkish, Moroccan, and Ghanaian origin. We strive for 10 000 participants per ethnic group (60 000 in total). A random sample aged >18 years has been drawn from the municipality register. Family members are also invited to participate. In baseline, participants are invited for a physical examination. Information on socio-economic position, migration history, lifestyle etc is collected by structured questionnaires. Additional data about health (care) will be collected by linking to registries.
Results Baseline data collection started in December 2010. Initial results will be presented at the conference.
Conclusion HELIUS will increase the etiological knowledge of cardiovascular disease, depression and infectious diseases in a multi-ethnic population. It will provide knowledge on preventable determinants of these diseases, which will give clues for public health action and targeted healthcare.
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