The Midspan Study and the Whitehall Study

The Midspan Study and the Whitehall Study


Historical collaboration between these two great UK studies

The MIDSPAN Study began with studies of occupational groups in the central belt of Scotland and the community survey of the population of the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, but much of the survey methodology was based on the successful earlier experiences of the two year TB Campaign in Glasgow in 1957-59.

In the early 1960s, when plans were also underway for the Whitehall Study of Civil Servants, close links between the two sets of investigators led to much sharing of methods and experiences. Donald Reid and Geoffrey Rose drew on the Main and Tiree Study experiences for their Whitehall design. Victor Hawthorne recalls Geoffrey Rose visiting the survey team at the Singer factory with a stopwatch to time each station. Donald Reid also visited Glasgow and Greenock, reviewed and edited the questionnaires and influenced some aspects of the later Midspan studies (e.g. reducing the emphasis on diabetes).

Victor Hawthorne visited the London School of Hygiene regularly, often on a monthly basis, and spent time with colleagues including Peter Lambert (Demography), John Colley (Respiratory) and Harry Keen (Diabetes), but especially Patrick Hamilton who ran the Whitehall Study, and other colleagues with specific technical expertise.

The Whitehall Study and the Midspan Studies were conducted on a mutual basis but the piloting of some elements (e.g. ECG measurements) took place in the West of Scotland.

Collaboration between the studies continues today with joint analyses of the data by teams in Glasgow, London and Bristol.