The SAGA cohort – a unique nationwide study on the impact of trauma on women ‘s health. The target population are all women, 18 years or older, residing in Iceland in February 2018. Participants answer an extensive web-based questionnaire on trauma history and health, and are then prospectively followed for diagnoses of major physical diseases and mental disorders.

Background: The majority of individuals are at some point during their life course exposed to trauma or severe adversities.  Women are frequently, and often early on in their lives, subjected to violence; indeed, the World Health Organization estimate suggest that one in every three women are globally subjected to sexual or physical violence. Accumulating evidence suggest that such trauma may affect psychological but also physical health.  Yet, large undertakings are needed to significantly advance our understanding of the complex association between trauma exposure and long-term morbidities.

With population-based health registers and genetic resources, Iceland has unique prerequisites for contributing significantly to the knowledgebase in this important area.

With this rationale and funding from the European Research Council and the Icelandic Research Fund, the University of Iceland in collaboration with deCODE Genetics is now launching The Icelandic SAGA (Stress-And-Gene-Analysis) Cohort.

The overarching aim of the SAGA cohort is to significantly advance our understanding of the role of trauma and major adversities in women’s health.  The specific aims are to improve understanding of:

  1. the lifetime prevalence of various trauma and major adversities among Icelandic women
  2. the health consequences suffered by women exposed to trauma or major adversities
  3. the genetic contribution to varying health trajectories following exposure to trauma

The study population and methods: All women living in Iceland, 18-69 years (approximately 110,000 women) will be invited to participate in the study in spring 2018. Women older than 69 years and Icelandic women living abroad can also participate but will not be actively recruited. Participation involves answering an extensive online questionnaire on history of trauma and health, as well as current symptoms of mental and physical morbidities. The participating women provide an informed consent for record linkage to the nationwide health registers as well as to genetic data at deCODE Genetics.

Significance: The SAGA cohort will, internationally, be one of the largest scientific undertakings specifically designed for improved understanding the impact of trauma on women’s health and the potential genetic underpinnings of varying trajectories of health after exposure to such trauma.  As such, the results may in the future contribute to prevention and treatment of adverse health consequences suffered by the large populations exposed to trauma.

Principal investigators and contact: The SAGA cohort is organized by investigators at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, in collaboration with deCODE Genetics as well as an extended pool of leading national and international experts in the field.

For information please contact or the principal investigators of the study:

Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir, Professor:

Arna Hauksdóttir, Professor: