Information for researchers

Information for researchers

Data Sharing

The Wirral Child Health and Development Study was established in 2007 with the recruitment of 1233 first time mothers at 20 weeks pregnancy from the only UK NHS (universal healthcare) antenatal clinic serving the Wirral, a well-defined geographical area in North West England. The study has been funded by the UK Medical Research Council (see MRC cohort directory)

A stratified high psychosocial risk subsample of 316 was identified and assessed at 32 weeks, and this two stage sampling method has enabled us to embed detailed observational, experimental, and biological measurement within the epidemiological design. This stratified sample was increased at age 5 years to 344 families. Follow up retained 888 of the general population sample, and 332 of the subsample up to the age 12 assessment wave (questionnaire report only phase).

We have gathered observational data from participating families at 5 weeks, 9 weeks, 29 weeks, 14 months, 2.5 years, 3.5 years, 5 years, 7 years and 9 years, and questionnaire data from the young people and mothers at age 12 and currently age 13 years. The focus of the study has been on the emergence, persistence and desistence of conduct problems in childhood, with an emerging focus on depression as the cohort approaches adolescence. Plan of Assessments summarises domains of measurement for our extensive and intensive sample at different phases of the study through development.

Much of the measurement is intended to help sharpen conduct problem phenotypes and many aspects of social, psychological, cognitive and biological processes have been measured through development, and these are of potential interest to researchers more widely in their own right. We have also gathered information on parental mental health from pregnancy to age 13 which may be of interest to researcher studying adult psychopathology.

Details of all study publications are listed on our website.

We welcome proposals for collaborative and external projects for bona fide research. We make data as widely available as possible while strongly protecting confidentiality, and making sure that we maintain the reputation of the study, its funders and its participants. All proposals are reviewed by the WCHADS Executive Committee.

Sampling Method

Details of the original sampling and recruitment method for WCHADS can be found in the following open access paper:

Sharp, H., Pickles, A., Meaney, M., Marshall, K., Tibu, F., & Hill, J. (2012) Frequency of Infant Stroking Reported by Mothers Moderates the Effect of Prenatal Depression on Infant Behavioural and Physiological Outcomes. PLoS ONE 7(10):e45446. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0045446. Read

Domains of measurement

The broad scheme of longitudinal measurement domains used throughout WCHADS can be accessed here.

Some more sensitive domains of measurements have been completed but do not appear in this table as access to them is restricted and will be considered on the basis of each individual enquiry.

Full details of all the data gathered and methodology used during WCHADS is available to individual researchers upon request. A Data Dictionary in HTML format is available which contains all of the meta-data from the questionnaire phases. We also have a detailed Excel spreadsheet which summarises all interview, observational, experimental, genetic and physiological data (in addition to the questionnaires).

Accessing the WCHADS dataset

Proposals to access the WCHADS dataset should be requested as outlined in the WCHADS Data Access Policy document. 

Please read the Data Access Policy document before submitting a proposal. This document describes the process in detail and outlines the governance procedures in place. If you feel that you would like to submit a request to access the WCHADS dataset then you will need to complete an WCHADS Application for Data Sharing.

We would encourage an informal discussion with the WCHADS Investigators as a first step, prior to formal application. This will enable us to optimally support you in selecting measures that are able to answer your particular research question.

You can contact us on, or you can call the office on 0151 650 5490.

CLOSER Partnership

The WCHADS is part of the CLOSER network of longitudinal UK studies. We are in the process of uploading all the questions we have asked in our questionnaire measures to their directory. You can search and browse questionnaires from our study using the CLOSER Discovery search engine. CLOSER Discovery is an online platform that allows users to explore the content of multiple UK longitudinal studies.

CLOSER Discovery is regularly updated to include more content from each longitudinal study. The full list of study questionnaires and datasets currently available in CLOSER Discovery, as well as the instruments that will be added at a later date, can be found on the website.

Projects being run in collaboration with WCHADS or using WCHADS data

A cross-syndrome approach: Modelling developmental trajectories in children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and callous-unemotional traits.
Dr Rachael Bedford, King’s College London (Henry Wellcome Post-doctoral Fellowship)

Mapping early environment using communication deviance: A longitudinal study of maternal sensitivity towards 6-month-old children
Paulo Sousa, University of Liverpool (PhD candidate, Supervisor Prof Richard Bentall)

Adapting the cyberball paradigm to assess resilience to social threat
Professor Lucy Bowes, Department of Psychology, University of Oxford

Assessing the impact of perinatal maternal mental health on early inequalities in child mental health
Callum Rutherford, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool (PhD candidate – CLAHRC Studentship, Supervisor Prof David Taylor-Robinson)

The role of early mother-infant relationships in the development of emotional eating in middle childhood
Dr Charlotte Hardman, Institute of Psychology Health and Society, University of Liverpool

The role of early executive functioning in the development of childhood obesity
Dr Andrew Davies, Institute of Psychology Health and Society, University of Liverpool

The role of health inequalities in early child mental health
Professor David Taylor-Robinson, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool (MRC Clinician Scientist Award)

From observation to impact - The development and validation of a brief observational tool to assess quality of mother-infant interaction, suitable for use in routine clinical practice.
Professor Louise Howard, King’s College London; Dr Heather O’Mahon, University of Exeter & Professor Helen Sharp, Institute of Psychology Health and Society, University of Liverpool (NIHR HS&DR grant)

Transgenerational epigenetic effects of the OXTR gene through maternal care
Laura Smith, Manchester Metropolitan University (PhD candidate, VC Scholarship, Supervisor Dr Chris Murgatroyd, Manchester Metropolitan University)



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