The Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span study (HANDLS) is a
multidisciplinary, community-based, prospective longitudinal epidemiologic study examining
the influences of race and socioeconomic status (SES) on the development of age-related
health disparities among socioeconomically diverse African Americans and whites in Baltimore.
This study investigates whether health disparities develop or persist due to differences in
SES, differences in race, or their interaction. This study is unique because it will assess
over a 20-year period physical parameters as well as evaluate genetic, biologic, demographic,
and psychosocial parameters of African American and white participants in higher and lower
SES. It also employs novel research tools, mobile medical research vehicles, in hopes of
improving participation rates and retention among non-traditional research participants. The
domains of the HANDLS study include: nutrition, cognition, biologic biomarkers, body
composition and bone quality, physical function and performance, sociodemographics,
psychosocial, neighborhood environment and cardiovascular disease. Utilizing data from these
study domains will facilitate understand the driving factors behind persistent black-white
health disparities in overall longevity, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline.
HANDLS recruited a fixed cohort as an area probability sample of Baltimore City from August
2004 through November 2009 as Wave 1. HANDLS Wave 2 entitled The Association of Personality
and Socioeconomic status with Health Status - An Interim Follow-up Study began in June 2006
under a separate protocol. It was designed as a follow-up telephone interview approximately
18 months after the initial examination (Wave 1) was complete. Wave 2 provided interim
contact with study participants, and important interim information regarding their health.
Now completed, waves 3 and 4 were the first and second follow-up examinations and
participants second and third visit to our mobile Medical Research Vehicles (MRVs). The
current protocol outlines Wave 5, the third follow-up examination and participants fourth
visit to our mobile Medical Research Vehicles (MRVs). Planned as a follow-up after 3-4 years,
Wave 5 consists of health examinations, questionnaires, a telephone dietary-recall interview,
sensory assessments (visual, olfactory), health literacy assessment, skin color analysis,
renal function assessments, environmental assessments and structural MRIs.