University of Minnesota

Renfew/Paisley (Midspan) Study

Study Category: The Cohort Studies (1947-1972)
Year Begun: 1972
Location: Renfrew and Paisley, Scotland
Principal Investigator: Hawthorne, Victor
External Resource: View URL


The Renfrew/Paisley Study was designed to look at relationships of social and biological risk measures to cardiorespiratory disease in men and women in a large urban population having a variety of social classes, socioeconomic deprivation, and high mortality rates and to follow them prospectively.


The invited population was all citizens between 45 and 64 years of age from the cities of Renfrew and Paisley in the Renfrew district, in Scotland. There was an 80% response rate and the sample included 7058 men and 8353 woman. A screening examination collected self-reported rates of smoking and measured blood pressure, the electrocardiogram, and a non-fasting blood sample for plasma lipids.


Substantial differences were found between men in previous studies on cardiovascular risk in the UK and men in the Renfrew/Paisley Study. The Renfrew/Paisley men were shorter, had higher plasma cholesterol, lower forced expiratory volume (FEV) and higher levels of reported angina, breathlessness on effort and chronic bronchitis. Women in Renfrew/Paisley were shorter in stature, had higher plasma cholesterol, lower FEV, and fewer current and ex-smokers but a higher prevalence of breathlessness on effort.


This study was the first to present information on the epidemiology of cardiorespiratory disease in both men and women in the UK. This study of men and women in one area with a wide range of social classes allowed a comprehensive picture of cardiorespiratory disease in a UK community. A later study published in 2006 resolved the issue of unreliable self-reported smoking levels by determining carboxyhaemoglobin concentration levels for the participants. The results showed that the self-reported data were reliable and that distinctions between inhaling and not inhaling resulted in different levels of carboxyhaemoglobin, and lastly, that carboxyhaemoglobin was positively related to all causes of mortality.

Follow-up analyses in this large cohort found excess adjusted 20-year risk for obesity (> 30 BMI) in prediction of heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and venous thromboembolism. The authors concluded that consideration only of coronary and first events “greatly underestimates the long term cardiovascular consequences of obesity.” They also found that women had comparable stroke mortality to men and that serum cholesterol and body mass were unrelated to stroke risk.

Because of its size, scope, and duration, the Renfrew-Paisley Study has been able to make distinctive contributions to long term prediction of CVD and all-cause mortality for a number of particular items in psychological and mental health and social class and deprivation scales, as well as in women’s health, smoking, lung function, and birth weight. (FB/HB)


Hawthorne V.M., Watt GCM, Hart CL, Hole DJ, Smith GD, Gillis CR (1995). Cardiorespiratory Disease in Men and Women in Urban Scotland: Baseline Characteristics of the Renfrew/Paisley (MIDSPAN) Study Population. Scottish Medical Journal, 40, 102-107.

Hart CL, Smith GD, Hole DJ, Hawthorne VM (2006). Carboxyhaemoglobin concentration, smoking habit, and mortality in 25 years in the Renfrew/Paisley prospective cohort study. Heart, 92, 321-324.