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Data Analysis

The questionnaires and blood samples collected in the EIMS study are received and reviewed by EIMS administrative staff members. All personal information is thereafter replaced with an EIMS id-code and the personal information is kept securely locked at the administrative office. To read more about the security measures taken, click here (the questionnaire).

The coded data is then entered into a digital database. The researchers have access only to the digital database and are not privy to the personal information of the study participants. The identity of the study participants is thereby insured to never be exposed in the published research produced from the EIMS study data.

The EIMS database holds both genetic and environmental data on over 6,000 cases and controls. It is therefore important that the research hypothesis created by the researchers and PhD students are established in symbioses with grounded biological theories.

A relationship has, for example, been acknowledged between vitamin D and the development of MS. It is therefore of interest to further assess this relationship using the extensive EIMS database.

When the researchers have anchored a new idea, data assessment programs are used to analyze the data and identify statistically significant relationships.

Specially designed data handling programs are necessary to assess which genetic variants affect the risk of developing MS. It is not possible for the researchers to identify risk levels for an individual since both genes and the environment together affect the risk of developing MS. The researchers instead work towards identifying general risk factors that can be applied at a population level.

Statistically significant results are not alone enough to accept a hypothesis as true. There must also be a biological explanation to the identified relationship.

One example of how the different parts of the data compiled in the EIMS study can be combined is the discovery of how smoking increases the risk of developing MS. The data from the lifestyle questionnaires showed that smoking was significantly more common among cases than among controls. Once this relationship had been identified the researchers continued their assessment of the relationship in the DNA. Through the DNA analyses they found that a specific gene variant, in combination with smoking, was the culprit behind the increased risk of developing MS. 

Thus one cycle in the research process is complete. The results are thereafter published in scientific journals and the researchers continue their search of which other factors may be affect the development of MS.









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