Joint data analysis in nutritional epidemiology: Identification of observational studies and minimal requirements
De Cock N
de Angelis M
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Background: Joint data analysis from multiple nutrition studies may improve the ability to answer complex questions regarding the role of nutritional status and diet in health and disease. Objective: The objective was to identify nutritional observational studies from partners participating in the European Nutritional Phenotype Assessment and Data Sharing Initiative (ENPADASI) Consortium, as well as minimal requirements for joint data analysis. Methods: A predefined template containing information on study design, exposure measurements (dietary intake, alcohol and tobacco consumption, physical activity, sedentary behavior, anthropometric measures, and sociodemographic and health status), main health-related outcomes, and laboratory measurements (traditional and omics biomarkers) was developed and circulated to those European research groups participating in the ENPADASI under the strategic research area of "diet-related chronic diseases." Information about raw data disposition and metadata sharing was requested. A set of minimal requirements was abstracted from the gathered information. Results: Studies (12 cohort, 12 cross-sectional, and 2 case-control) were identified. Two studies recruited children only and the rest recruited adults. All studies included dietary intake data. Twenty studies collected blood samples. Data on traditional biomarkers were available for 20 studies, of which 17 measured lipoproteins, glucose, and insulin and 13 measured inflammatory biomarkers. Metabolomics, proteomics, and genomics or transcriptomics data were available in 5, 3, and 12 studies, respectively. Although the study authors were willing to share metadata, most refused, were hesitant, or had legal or ethical issues related to sharing raw data. Forty-one descriptors of minimal requirements for the study data were identified to facilitate data integration. Conclusions: Combining study data sets will enable sufficiently powered, refined investigations to increase the knowledge and understanding of the relation between food, nutrition, and human health. Furthermore, t he minimal requirements for study data may encourage more efficient secondary usage of existing data and provide sufficient information for researchers to draft future multicenter research proposals in nutrition.