Rationale and Design of the Hamburg City Health Study

Eur J Epidemiol. 2020 Feb;35(2):169-181. doi: 10.1007/s10654-019-00577-4. Epub 2019 Nov 8.


The Hamburg City Health Study (HCHS) is a large, prospective, long-term, population-based cohort study and a unique research platform and network to obtain substantial knowledge about several important risk and prognostic factors in major chronic diseases. A random sample of 45,000 participants between 45 and 74 years of age from the general population of Hamburg, Germany, are taking part in an extensive baseline assessment at one dedicated study center. Participants undergo 13 validated and 5 novel examinations primarily targeting major organ system function and structures including extensive imaging examinations. The protocol includes validate self-reports via questionnaires regarding lifestyle and environmental conditions, dietary habits, physical condition and activity, sexual dysfunction, professional life, psychosocial context and burden, quality of life, digital media use, occupational, medical and family history as well as healthcare utilization. The assessment is completed by genomic and proteomic characterization. Beyond the identification of classical risk factors for major chronic diseases and survivorship, the core intention is to gather valid prevalence and incidence, and to develop complex models predicting health outcomes based on a multitude of examination data, imaging, biomarker, psychosocial and behavioral assessments. Participants at risk for coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and dementia are invited for a visit to conduct an additional MRI examination of either heart or brain. Endpoint assessment of the overall sample will be completed through repeated follow-up examinations and surveys as well as related individual routine data from involved health and pension insurances. The study is targeting the complex relationship between biologic and psychosocial risk and resilience factors, chronic disease, health care use, survivorship and health as well as favorable and bad prognosis within a unique, large-scale long-term assessment with the perspective of further examinations after 6 years in a representative European metropolitan population.

Keywords: Brain MRI; Cancer; Cardiac MRI; Coronary heart disease; Dementia; Epidemiology; Hamburg; Health care; Health service research; Lifestyle; MRI imaging; Nutrition; Obesity; Ocular diseases; Oral health; Prevention; Prospective cohort study; Psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders; Resilience; Respiratory diseases; Risk factors; Sexual dysfunction; Stroke; Survivorship; Vascular diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms
  • Oral Health
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proteomics
  • Quality of Life
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke
  • Surveys and Questionnaires