Comparison of risk factor associations in UK Biobank against representative, general population based studies with conventional response rates: prospective cohort study and individual participant meta-analysis
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Large, well-designed prospective cohort studies are very useful for identifying risk factors for chronic disease. UK Biobank is one such study, made up of about 500,000 people who have been extensively characterized for a wide range of phenotypes. However, UK Biobank is unusual in that only 6% of people invited to take part in its initial survey agreed to do so. UK Biobank participants tend to have a more favourable risk factor profile and lower mortality than the general population of the same age. The low response rate has led to debate as to whether findings of links between risk factors and disease from UK Biobank are likely to be generalizable. We compared associations between risk factors for chronic disease and mortality in UK Biobank with nationally representative cohort studies which had conventional response rates. Associations of a wide range of risk factors with mortality outcomes showed close agreement between studies. Risk factor associations in UK Biobank seem to be generalisable