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Frequently Asked Questions (see below)

General Questions

1. I am an EPIC participant - will I be hearing from EPIC again soon?

The Fourth Health Check (4HC) began in September 2012 and is set to run for two years. During this time we shall be contacting each of our remaining participants so you should expect to hear from us within this time frame.

2. I am an EPIC participant but I have not heard from EPIC in many years.

The third health check was very long (3 hours) so it took us much longer to see all of our participants and be in a position to approach you again for the new phase. It may also be that we no longer have current contact information for you. If you are concerned that this may be the case, please contact EPIC on our freephone number 0800 616911 to check your status and update your information.

3. How does EPIC follow-up on participants?

The great value of the EPIC-Norfolk study is in understanding what happens to the health of participants over many years as they age and to get as complete a picutre as possible of health in the community. Aside from health checks and questionnaires, we do this by ongoing record linkage to general and hospital medical records and disease registries to get a picture of patterns of health and disease over the years. Thus, even if participants no longer attend future health examinations or receive questionnaires, their earlier contributions continue to be of benefit.

4. I have never been involved before, can I still sign up for EPIC now?

No. As EPIC is a long-term study, we are continuing to follow our original participants and are no longer recruiting new participants.

5. I am an EPIC participant but I have moved out of the Norfolk area. Can I still participate?

You are very welcome to complete questionnaires from your new address, just let us know your new contact details. If you have not moved too far, you are also welcome to come for a health check if you are willing to make the trip to Norwich.

6. I am unable to attend the 4HC, but can I still take part in the EPIC study?

We are extremely grateful for your participation. If you are unable to attend the health check at this particular time, but can complete the questionnaires, then that is still very useful to us.

7. I now have an illness, can I still continue to take part?

Yes. Any information with regards to your health is extremely important to the study, even if you are unable to take part physically and it is just to inform us that you have a certain illness.

8. Am I too old to participate?

There is no age limit to participate in any part of EPIC study. We wish to follow-up our participants for as long as possible so this means that people will be ageing and this is an important part of our research.

9. I withdrew from EPIC at some point in the past but I am now interested in participating again, can I?

Yes indeed. Let us know and we will be happy to re-enrol you, making you eligible for the Fourth Health Check (4HC) and any other EPIC related activities.

10. What results have EPIC come up with over the years?

For general information on results see our Summary Findings. We have published many papers over the years, some of which have made headline news (see EPIC in the news.) For more details click on all our published results, see Publications.

11. What does the future hold for EPIC?

EPIC is the most important research study looking at health and lifestyle. We have expanded the study to include a wide range of other conditions that affect so many of us. The longer we follow people the more information we can gather on how our diet, lifestyle and experiences affect our health. We can only do this with your continued participation and for that we are very grateful.

Questions about the Fourth Health Check (4HC)

1. How is the fourth health check different from previous health checks?

The EPIC study was initially designed to look at links between diet, our lifestyle and cancer. Over the years we have also been able to study other important long-term illnesses such as chronic heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

The aim of this phase (4HC) is to investigate the levels and patterns of physical activity undertaken by our participants and relate this to body composition. There is currently a lot of interest not only in how much fat a person has, but where this fat is located within the body and how this distribution affects health and triggers common obesity-related diseases. We hope that our research will help prevent the development of these diseases and contribute towards interventions aimed at keeping people active as they get older.

2. Why do we have to come to Norwich, is there a clinic near me?

Previously, EPIC staff either came to your local GP practice, or we set up a special clinic in your local area. Due to the complex equipment we are using in this phase, we are unable to set up in different clinics. We have a central location in Norwich with new fully trained researchers.

3. Why is the appointment shorter now?

The 4HC will last approximately 50-60 minutes. Whilst repeating several tests from the first, second and third health checks to see how your health and lifestyle have changed since we last saw you, we are not repeating the cognitive (memory and thinking) or visual testing carried out at the 3HC. Instead, we are including a body composition scan (DEXA), which will provide readings on bone density, muscle mass and regional fat mass. This scan only takes approximately 7-10 minutes.

4. Are there any possible risks associated with the DEXA body compositional scan, undertaken as part of the Fourth Health Check?

The DEXA scanner is an x-ray procedure. The x-ray exposure from this equipment is very small indeed, amounting to approximately 8 hours natural exposure to background radiation. For reference, a single chest X-ray amounts to about 3 day's background radiation. However, if there is a possibility that you may be pregnant, we will be unable to carry out the DEXA measurement. Please telephone the unit on 01603 776812 for advice if you suspect that you may be pregnant before your appointment. We also need to be informed if you have received any exposure to X-rays in the 7 days leading up to your appointment.

5. Will I go into a tunnel for this scan?

NO, you will not be required to go into a tunnel. The scan requires you to lie on a bed and an arm passes over you. It will be carried out in a bright, airy room and the operator will remain with you throughout.

6. What tests are being carried out as part of the Fourth Health Check?

Please see Fourth Health Check page available from the EPIC Home page for further information on the tests included in the EPIC 4HC.

7. My partner is a participant but was not approached when I was

If you have received an invitation to the Fourth Health Check, and you would like to come on the same day as another EPIC participant living at the same address (or near by), please call us on our freephone number and we will send an invitation pack to that person and arrange an appointment for the same time. You can also write this on your participation form.

8. What if the set clinic times do not suit me?

That should not be a problem. You will be sent a participation form where there will be space to indicate the best times for an appointment to suit you. The clinic opening hours are distributed to accommodate most requests.

9. What do I need to do on the day of my appointment?

Please eat and drink as normal. Hot and cold drinks will also be offered during your appointment.

If you usually wear a hearing aid or contact lenses please wear them as normal on the day.

If you usually wear spectacles please ensure that you bring these with you on the day.

Please also bring a list of your medications (the docket for repeat prescriptions would be very useful). Medications are either those prescribed by your GP, or supplements you may have bought over the counter at the chemist or a health food store. Details of the brand of medication, the dose, and the frequency that you take it would be most useful.

It would be helpful if ladies are able to wear their hair loose, or are able to remove any hair ornaments to aid the accuracy of the height measurement without disturbing your hair.

To carry out a DEXA scan we must ensure that you are free from all metal, so if you are able to wear or bring suitable clothing which is free from metal it would be very helpful. However, please don't worry if you are unable to find anything suitable at home as we have garments that you are able to change into at the unit. Ladies - please don't forget that most bra fasteners and underwiring are metal.

10. Is there any parking at the clinic?

There is parking available on-site. You will be sent a special Car-Park voucher so that you can park free of charge during your health check.

11. Does the clinic have disabled access?

Yes. We do have ramp outside the clinic, but please do call the clinic to discuss your individual needs if you have any concerns.

12. What results are available after I've had a health check?

These are not available on the day of your appointment as they are not released until all quality control checks have been carried out. Approximately six weeks after your appointment you will be sent a copy of your body composition (DEXA results). This copy will show your regional fat distribution, fat mass and percentage. It will not contain your bone density results as these will be sent directly to your GP. You will also receive a copy of your physical activity results (step count) relating to the seven days you were wearing an activity monitor.

13. Why can't I have the results of all of the tests?

Many of the tests are still research tools rather than diagnostic tests and so we are not able to give the results on these because they do not currently have a defined medical meaning.

14. Why doesn't EPIC carry out a hearing test as part of the Fourth Health Check?

This would be a useful test, but unfortunately the conditions within the clinic are unsuitable at the present time to guarantee accurate testing. In addition to this, we have to decide on a research strategy at each phase of the study and hearing is not included in this phase. However, it may well be included in future phases.