Development and representativeness of a large population-based cohort of native Californian twins

Twin Res. 2001 Aug;4(4):242-50. doi: 10.1375/1369052012461.


We have established a large cohort of twins to facilitate studies of the role of genetics and environment in the development of disease. The cohort has been derived from all multiple births occurring in California between 1908-82 (256,616 in total). We report here on our efforts to contact these twins and their completion of a detailed 16 page risk factor questionnaire. Addresses of the individuals were obtained by linking the birth records with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) roster of licensees. To date this has been completed for twins born between 1908 and 1972 (200,589 individuals). The linkage has revealed 112,468 matches and, because of less complete DMV records in some years, was less successful in older females than in younger females and all males. Over 41,000 twins have participated by completing the questionnaire. Based on estimates of numbers of individuals receiving a questionnaire, we estimate our crude response rate to be between 42.2% and 49.6%, highest among females in their 40s (62.8%). We describe the representativeness of the twins in the original birth cohort, those identified by the linkage, and those completing the questionnaire. Compared to the 1990 resident population of California-born resident singletons, the respondents were of similar age, sex, race and residential distribution (for although we were able to locate fewer older females, they had a higher response rate), but were less likely to have been educated for more than 12 years. We provide a brief synopsis of studies nested within this cohort. We also elucidate our plans for expanding the cohort in the near future.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Birth Certificates
  • California / epidemiology
  • Censuses
  • Cohort Studies*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Twins*