Welcome to the PATH website!

In 2018, the PATH Chief Investigator, Professor Kaarin Anstey, relocated to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and she remains an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University (ANU). The PATH study is now jointly hosted by ANU and UNSW. Wave 5 of data collection for the 40+ and 60+ cohorts will be conducted by the PATH research team from UNSW Canberra. 

The PATH study is now a multi-institutional collaboration, with researchers both within Australia and overseas contributing to the project. All researchers working on the PATH project continue to operate according to the same national research guidelines, privacy policies and ethical guidelines to ensure our research is best practice.

About PATH

The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life project is a large, ongoing, population-based, longitudinal cohort study comprising approximately 7500 participants. The project aims to track and define the lifespan course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability, identify environmental risk and protective factors within these domains, and examine the relationships between depression, anxiety and substance use with cognitive ability and dementia.

Primary PATH objectives:

  • To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability with increasing age across the adult life span. 
  • To identify environmental risk, genetic risk and protective factors influencing individual differences in the course of these characteristics. 
  • To investigate interrelationships over time between the three domains of: depression and anxiety, substance use, and cognitive ability and dementia. 
  • To examine the mental health related impact of various personal, social and lifestyle transitions and events experienced by the different age cohorts, including infertility, fertility and pregnancy, changes in family structure, relationship formation and separation, menopause, and retirement. 

Unique features of the PATH project:

Several design features contribute to its unique standing among population-based longitudinal cohort studies:

  • Obtaining measures of genetic, biological (including MRI), psychosocial and lifestyle risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Use of a narrow age cohort design with longitudinal follow ups as an optimal means of separating age and cohort effects. 
  • Assessment of participants across the full adult lifespan, permitting investigation of developmentally significant, though under-studied periods such as midlife.
  • Recruitment and follow up of a young-old population, providing important pre-clinical data for studying the development of age-related changes in memory and cognition.

Learn more

Research Team

The PATH study commenced in 1999 and was initially led by Professor Tony Jorm. Professor Anstey has led the study since 2006 and is currently leading the Wave 5 40s and 60s cohort follow-ups. Professor Peter Butterworth led the Wave 5 20s follow-up and the face-to-face components of the Wave 4 20s and 40s.

There have been many investigators on the grants that have funded the study and sub-studies, including: Helen Christensen, Bryan Rogers, Simon Easteal, Perminder Sachdev, Keith Dear, Nicolas Cherbuin, Walter Abhayarathna, Marc Budge, Liana Leach, Richard Burns, Rebecca McKetin, Ben Rattray, Andrew McKinnon, Paul McNamee, and Tim Slade.