EVERY adult and young person in Scotland is being invited to join a major study that will help shape the nation’s healthcare.

Volunteers in the Generation Scotland study will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about their medical history and lifestyle, provide a saliva sample for genetic analysis, and give permission to share their medical records to follow their health over time.

The study will help scientists investigate the causes of disease, understand the country’s healthcare priorities, and inform future medical treatments and health policies.

READ MORE: Male heart failure death rates up nearly 40 per cent since Covid 

In particular, the study’s organisers are encouraging whole families, from teenagers to grandparents, to sign up to increase knowledge of how genetics and shared living environment influence the lives of people in Scotland.

It is the first time that the study has been open to young people aged between 12 and 15.

Generation Scotland has been running since 2006 and has already helped develop potentially life-saving treatments.

The new call for participants is for anyone who is resident in Scotland.

After completing an online questionnaire, participants will be sent a “spit kit” to collect a saliva sample, which will then be returned to a lab for genetic analysis.

Through access to medical records, scientists will be able to analyse data about medications, vaccinations, previous illnesses and hospital visits.

To help understand the social and economic influences on health and well-being, the team may also access education, work and census records, subject to study participant’s permission.

Experts say investigating well-being is important as it covers both mental and physical health and generally indicates how well people feel their lives are going.

Generation Scotland was originally established with the support of the Scottish Government and is based on a collaboration between universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, NHS Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian, and Tayside, and Public Health Scotland.

The study is led by a team based at Edinburgh University, and currently has more than 24,000 people from 7,000 families taking part. The team hopes to increase this figure by at least 20,000.

READ MORE: Sharp rise in suspected drug deaths in Scotland

Participants have already helped support research into diseases including Covid-19, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and dementia.

Previous findings have helped develop a £10 protein test that could help predict risk of having a stroke or heart attack up to eight years in advance.

The current expansion phase of Generation Scotland is funded by Wellcome and is also supported by Health Data Research UK.

Professor Cathie Sudlow, director of Generation Scotland, said: “By opening Generation Scotland to teenagers for the first time, we will develop a clearer understanding of their health and well-being.

“This is of particular importance following the disruption to young peoples’ lives caused by the pandemic.”

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, chief scientist for health at the Scottish Government, said: “Generation Scotland has been pivotal in providing an evidence base for government policy since it launched in 2006.

“It is important that it should now expand as we enter a new period in our country, moving beyond the pandemic and starting to tackle new health challenges, including the issues presented by the cost of living crisis.”

READ MORE: The virus risk predictor that scientists think could reduce NHS winter pressures

Professor Andrew Morris, director of Health Data Research UK, said: “The pandemic demonstrated the key role that genomic and healthcare data can play in responding to societal challenges on a grand scale.

“By increasing participation in Generation Scotland, it should be possible for us to further understand the key drivers of health and well-being for people living in Scotland.”