Cohort profile: LIFEWORK, a prospective cohort study on occupational and environmental risk factors and health in the Netherlands

Marije Reedijk, Virissa Lenters, Pauline Slottje, Anouk Pijpe, Petra H Peeters, Joke C Korevaar, Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, W M Monique Verschuren, Robert A Verheij, Inka Pieterson, Flora E van Leeuwen, Matti A Rookus, Hans Kromhout, Roel C H Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


LIFEWORK is a large federated prospective cohort established in the Netherlands to quantify the health effects of occupational and environmental exposures. This cohort is also the Dutch contribution to the international Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health (COSMOS). In this paper, we describe the study design, ongoing data collection, baseline characteristics of participants and the repeatability of key questionnaire items. Participants 88 466 participants were enrolled in three cohort studies in 2011-2012. Exposure information was collected by a harmonised core questionnaire, or modelled based on occupational and residential histories; domains include air pollution (eg, nitrogen dioxide (NO 2), particulate matter with diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM 2.5)), noise, electromagnetic fields (EMF), mobile phone use, shift work and occupational chemical exposures. Chronic and subacute health outcomes are assessed by self-report and through linkage with health registries. Findings to date Participants had a median age of 51 years at baseline (range 19-87), and the majority are female (90%), with nurses being over-represented. Median exposure levels of NO 2, PM 2.5, EMF from base stations and noise at the participants' home addresses at baseline were 22.9 μg/m 3, 16.6 μg/m 3, 0.003 mWm 2 and 53.1 dB, respectively. Twenty-two per cent of participants reported to have started using a mobile phone more than 10 years prior to baseline. Repeatability for self-reported exposures was moderate to high (weighted kappa range: 0.69-1) for a subset of participants (n=237) who completed the questionnaire twice. Future plans We are actively and passively observing participants; we plan to administer a follow-up questionnaire every 4-5 years - the first follow-up will be completed in 2018 - and linkage to cause-of-death and cancer registries occurs on a (bi)annual basis. This prospective cohort offers a unique, large and rich resource for research on contemporary occupational and environmental health risks and will contribute to the large international COSMOS study on mobile phone use and health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere018504
Pages (from-to)e018504
JournalBMJ open [E]
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2018


  • electromagnetic fields
  • epidemiology
  • occupational and environmental exposures
  • population-based studies
  • repeatability


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