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The Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA) study is the largest study of ageing in Northern Ireland (NI). The Harmonised Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP) is a substudy of NICOLA designed to assess cognitive impairment and dementia in individuals aged 65 and over. The NICOLA-HCAP substudy is funded by the National Institute on Aging as part of a network for enhancing cross-national research within a worldwide group of population-based, longitudinal studies of ageing, all of which are centred around the US-based Health and Retirement Study.

Methods and analysis
The NICOLA-HCAP study will draw on the main NICOLA cohort (of 8283 participants) and randomly sample 1000 participants aged 65 and over to take part in the substudy. Participants will complete a series of cognitive tests (n=19) via a computer-assisted personal interview administered in their home (or alternatively within the research centre) and will be asked to nominate a family member or friend to complete an additional interview of validated instruments to provide information on respondent’s prior and current cognitive and physical functioning and whether the individual requires help with daily activities. The objectives of the study are: to investigate the prevalence of dementia and cognitive impairment in NICOLA; harmonise scoring of the NICOLA-HCAP data to the HCAP studies conducted in Ireland, the USA and England; to explore the validity of dementia estimates; and investigate the risk factors for dementia and cognitive impairment.

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