Transitions in Health, Employment, Social Engagement and Intergenerational Transfers in Singapore Study (THE SIGNS Study)

THE SIGNS Study aims to understand patterns and determinants of successful aging from a social and health perspective among older (aged 60 years and above) Singaporeans. It is a longitudinal study comprising two waves of data collection (Wave 1: THE SIGNS Study – I [2015-16] and Wave 2: THE SIGNS Study – II [2017-18]).

 Specific aims

  1. Assess baseline (THE SIGNS Study – I) status of successful aging from a social and health perspective covering specific domains such as social engagement and health as well as change in these domains from THE SIGNS Study – I to THE SIGNS Study – II.
  2. Evaluate how (i) health behaviors, (ii) social factors and (iii) health care service use affect health and social engagement (and vice versa) in a longitudinal perspective.
  3. Using longitudinal data from THE SIGNS Study – I and THE SIGNS Study – II, estimate the probability in transition across health states in order to calculate healthy life expectancy, overall and by gender, ethnicity and educational status.
  4. Building upon Aim 3, and through healthy life expectancy estimates available from a previous longitudinal study of older Singaporeans, assess for evidence in support of compression of morbidity among older Singaporeans.


We will approach a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,000 older community-dwelling Singaporeans (citizens and permanent residents), stratified by age, gender and ethnicity to participate in THE SIGNS Study – I in 2015/16. Participants of THE SIGNS Study – I, who agree to be re-contacted, will be approached after approximately two years, in 2017/18, for participation in THE SIGNS Study – II. Each of the two waves will include the completion of a questionnaire containing a broad set of questions relating to a number of health and social engagement domains along with anthropometric and functional performance measurements. Further, in THE SIGNS Study – II, next-of-kin of THE SIGNS Study – I participants who have passed away will be interviewed to elicit information regarding the circumstances surrounding their death.

Importance of the study

This study will provide longitudinal data to understand the determinants of successful aging from a social and health perspective among older Singaporeans.


Ministry of Health, Singapore