Research to improve people's health


A macroproject of national scope is launched in Catalonia that will study why the population gets sick and promote precision medicine

The Cohort IMPaCT study, promoted by CIBER, will monitor the health and lifestyle of 200,000 people nationwide, including 24,000 from Catalonia, for twenty years. In Catalonia, the study is coordinated by IDIAPJGol and begins in the Baix Francolí area, in Tarragona.

January 25th 2024

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This week marks the start of the IMPaCT macro-study cohort in Catalonia, a nationwide project that aims to better understand the causes of major diseases in order to prevent and treat them through the application of personalised and precision medicine techniques. To achieve this, a comprehensive health study will be carried out on a representative sample of the population over the next twenty years. In Catalonia, this sample will include 24,000 people, and nationally it will include 200,000 people. In Catalonia, the study is being coordinated by the Jordi Gol Primary Care Research Institute (IDIAPJGol), in collaboration with the Catalan Health Service (CatSalut) and the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS).

The first area in Catalonia where the research will take place is in the Baix Francolí region, in the Camp de Tarragona, which includes nine towns (els Pallaresos, Constantí, el Morell, Vilallonga del Camp, el Rourell, la Secuita, Perafort, la Pobla de Mafumet and els Garidells) and the districts of Sant Ramon and Sant Salvador in the city of Tarragona. A total of 4,000 people from these areas will be randomly selected to participate in the project.

IMPaCT will soon be extended to Baix Ebre (l'Aldea), Vallès Oriental (Sant Fost de Campsentelles), Bages (Manresa), Segrià (Lleida) and Barcelonès (l'Hospitalet de Llobregat).

The study sample includes people aged 16-79 who will be contacted by the primary care centre coordinating the research to ask about their interest in participating. Participants will be followed up to collect information on their lifestyle and health status through questionnaires, physical examinations, physiological tests and biomarker analysis, all carried out at the same primary care centre.

When they call you, come!

To ensure the success of the project, it is essential that the people invited to participate agree to cooperate. In this regard, Josep Basora Gallisà, director of IDIAPJGol and principal investigator of the Catalonia study, emphasises that "the participation of citizens in this project is essential, so it is crucial that they understand its potential, which will have an impact on improving the health of the entire population".

Olga Ochoa, Assistant Director of Primary Care at the ICS Camp de Tarragona, adds that "primary care is at the centre of one of the largest studies ever carried out to promote personalised health prevention and care".

Furthermore, the director of the Camp de Tarragona Health Region, Imma Grau Farrús, highlights that "this is not just research, but an opportunity for citizens to influence their health and that of future generations". She appeals to the public: "If you receive a call from your primary centre, do not hesitate to participate; you will contribute to building a healthier future for the entire population".

A major step towards precision medicine

The project, promoted by the Carlos III Health Institute through the Biomedical Research Networking Centre (CIBER), aims to create a large population cohort of 200,000 people across Spain. "We want to understand the role of habits, genetic susceptibility and specific characteristics of the Spanish population and our environment in the development of major health problems and the prediction of diseases," explains Marina Esquerrà Parés, researcher at IDIAPJGol and coordinator of the study in Catalonia.

To prevent the onset of a disease, it is essential to know the factors that cause it. Having information on a large number of people and following them over time will make it possible to predict the future risk of disease for each individual. Advances in genomics and information and communication technologies are facilitating this personalised approach.

Population-based studies such as Cohort IMPaCT have been carried out in other countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and the USA. These cohorts collect biological samples and epidemiological information, including social and economic factors, as a basic tool for advancing personalised prevention. The IMPaCT cohort will allow Spain to make a qualitative leap in precision medicine research.

Valuable data for the scientific community

The data collected from participants will be available for the development of other scientific projects of interest to society. "Cohort IMPaCT will allow the scientific community to better understand how to prevent major diseases and age-related deterioration, injury and disability," explains Marina Pollán, principal investigator of Cohort IMPaCT in Spain and scientific director of the Biomedical Research Networking Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP).

The possibility of having a dynamic registry of individual and population data, including clinical, genetic, epidemiological and lifestyle information, will allow the construction of predictive models of disease, the identification of health inequalities, the monitoring of key indicators and the evaluation of the impact of health policies.

Cohort Studies

Cohorts are studies in which a large group of people representative of the population is selected, collecting comprehensive data from each participant over the years. The creation of Cohort IMPaCT is a shared effort with health services throughout Spain and the National Institute of Statistics. It involves collaboration with 21 institutions, including primary care centers, hospitals, and research centers. Scientific coordination is carried out by CIBER, with the advice and participation of numerous researchers and health professionals in the country.

The study will be conducted in a total of fifty health areas (IMPaCT centers) distributed throughout Spain, six of which are in Catalonia, from where participants will be contacted and monitored. The project started in March 2023 with a pilot test in Mallorca and Madrid. Subsequently, the study has been progressively deployed in other centers in different autonomous communities.

Cohort studies

Cohorts are studies in which a large group of people, representative of the population, are selected and comprehensive data are collected from each participant over a number of years. The creation of the IMPaCT cohort is a joint effort with health services across Spain and the National Institute of Statistics. It involves collaboration with 21 institutions, including primary care centres, hospitals and research centres. The scientific coordination will be carried out by CIBER, with the advice and participation of many researchers and health professionals in the country.

The study will be carried out in a total of fifty health areas (IMPaCT centres) distributed throughout Spain, six of which are in Catalonia, from where the participants will be contacted and followed up. The project started in March 2023 with a pilot test in Mallorca and Madrid. Subsequently, the study has been progressively deployed to other centres in different autonomous communities.


During the last session of the Qualitative Health Research Commission of IDIAPJGol and the Health and Social Consortium of Catalonia (CSC), methodological challenges were presented to develop a qualitative study that allows analyzing access to cancer diagnosis in health services in Quito (Ecuador). This study is part of the EquityCancer-LA research project, led by the CSC, which aims to assess, with a participatory approach, the effectiveness of a multicomponent integrated care intervention to improve early cancer diagnosis in the public health service networks of Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.

The Commission is a learning space in qualitative research methodology for healthcare and social services professionals, researchers, and collaborating entities. This space is a platform for exchanging experiences and knowledge for the analysis of issues such as community health, clinical trials, or access to health services.

A positive assessment of the 2023 edition

Following the trend of recent years, the 2023 Commission sessions have maintained good levels of participation and have covered a wide variety of areas and topics. Over the past year, experiences of qualitative evaluation of community health programs have been presented, and the role of qualitative methodology in clinical trial evaluation has been discussed. The use of photo-elicitation to analyze the emotional health of adolescents and photovoice as a qualitative technique to understand the experience of living with endometriosis has also been introduced.

Commission members and participants have highlighted the dynamic nature of the sessions, the interest generated in the discussions, and the quality and diversity of the presentations. This assessment was carried out using qualitative techniques and an online survey.

Users have proposed maintaining the hybrid participation model and the working method for 2024. They have suggested topics for this year, such as triangulation in mixed methods studies and the perspectives and techniques to be considered for organizing this year's sessions.

What to expect in 2024

The Commission will continue working to contribute to the development of knowledge and skills in qualitative research for healthcare professionals. The mission of promoting synergies and adding experiences among professionals will be maintained. For 2024, the Commission aims to increase the participation of healthcare and social services professionals from across the territory engaged in research activities, especially in the municipal and primary care setting.

The coordination of the space is led by Aida Oliver Anglès from the Service of Studies and Prospectives in Health Policies (SEPPS) of the CSC, and Constanza Jacques Aviñó and Laura Medina Perucha from IDIAPJGol. The Commission will meet again on February 21 in a session organized by IDIAPJGol, focusing on the persistent effects of COVID-19 and narrative analysis of discourse. In this upcoming session, the results of the 2023 evaluation survey will also be presented.

The coordination of the Qualitative Research Commission encourages all interested professionals to participate in learning about this research methodology, regardless of their level of expertise. If you are interested in joining the Commission and participating in its sessions, you can register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..