The population of China is estimated to be 1.41 billion people, at least 16.87 million of whom live in the Shanghai metropolitan area. The urban landscape has undergone rapid development. In 1990 the percentage of the Chinese population living in cities was 26%, by 2017 it was 59%. Rapid urbanization may impact health, for example the prevalence of hypertension in Shanghai adults was 28% in 2013, higher than the national average of 25%. The relationship between urbanization and health in China is not yet fully understood.
Wen Chen of Fudan University, Shanghai, and colleagues on behalf of the Shanghai suburban adult cohort and biobank (SSACB) study group, describe the establishment of the biobank to identify environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for non-communicable diseases in Chinese adults aged 20–74 years old living in newly urbanised areas of Shanghai. The report was published in the journal BMJ Open.
The SSACB consists of participants from 2 of Shanghai’s 8 suburban districts; Songjiang and Jiading. People aged 20–74 years in selected communities within the districts were invited to participate. Recruitment, baseline interviews and examinations were started in 2016, and completed the following year with 44,887 recruits; 35,727 from Songjiang and 9,160 from Jiading.
A questionnaire standardized for comparability was delivered and recorded via Android tablet. A free physical examination was performed at the local community health centre by licensed physicians. Fasting urine, and blood samples were collected and biobanked.
It is planned that follow-up surveys and exams will be conducted every five years. A yearly snapshot of participant electronic health records will be collected.
The cohort has already revealed several health indicators recorded at baseline during the period 2016-2017, in suburban Shanghai, such as the hypertension rate of 34% among the, on average, 57 year old, 60% retired participants.
The nascent study cohort is subject to the usual longitudinal cohort limitations, however the authors note that, in particular, reliance on the yearly health record snapshots could prove a weakness with the possibility of incomplete records.
“The SSACB cohort study is a large, prospective cohort study that investigates the unique characteristics of suburban residents, and will be a major contribution to research on [non-communicable diseases] in China,” concluded the authors.