Fire ansikter i profil, annenhver i hvit og blå, to grønne blader. Illustrasjon


RHINESSA is an international research project that studies asthma, allergies and lung health across generations and throughout a person’s lifespan. 

We aim to understand how our lifestyle and environment influence not only our own health, but also the health and potential illnesses of our children and grandchildren. RHINESSA’s multi-generation data helps us identify ages of susceptibility, which may be important for ultimately improving health over several generations. 

We investigate the children and parents of participants in the large international studies RHINE and ECRHS. These studies have investigated lung health, allergies and associated diseases in persons followed over several decades.  In Bergen the study has data covering four generations. 

In this time of COVID-19, it is particularly important to study lung health and to identify risk factors in the general population. Our studies can contribute on several fronts. Our data provides valuable information leading to better understanding of vulnerability to the coronavirus disease. It also fills knowledge gaps about the role of respiratory health and allergies, and their interactions with our immune system.

RHINESSA in Norwegian

RHINESSA includes ten study centres in seven countries: Aarhus, Denmark; Albacete and Huelva, Spain; Bergen, Norway; Gothenburg, Umeå and Uppsala, Sweden; Melbourne, Australia; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Tartu, Estonia.
We aim to identify determinants for health and disease that operate before conception and throughout the life-span, as well as the mechanisms involved.

Visualisation of Rhinessa's research. Graphics

We investigate how lifestyle, environment and behaviours of previous generations directly affect the health and disease of offspring. This helps us identify susceptible time windows in which interventions could be particularly efficient for ourselves and future generations.
Our main research interest is to study how various factors influence asthma, eczema, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung function and sleep disorders, with a specific focus on the importance of sex differences.

Examples of areas addressed in RHINESSA

  • smoking
  • obesity, reproductive and hormonal factors in men and women
  • air pollution and greenness
  • occupational environment 
  • cleaning agents, disinfectants and personal care products 
  • urban vs.rural environment during upbringing 
  • human and environmental microbiomes 
  • helminths and tuberculosis
  • oral health, periodontitis and other chronic diseases
  • COVID-19

The cohort resource and research methodologies of RHINESSA can also be utilised for multi-generation research in other important public health areas. We use an interdisciplinary approach, integrating epidemiological and mechanistic methods. We collaborate with health researchers worldwide to facilitate and disseminate our research methodologies and results to the global community. 

In 1991 and subsequent years, the ECRHS study invited random samples of people born in the years 1945 to 1973 from well-defined populations across Europe and beyond, to a questionnaire study. In over 30 study centres subgroups of participants were invited for a clinical study. The clinical study participants were invited for follow-up studies every 10th year in the ECRHS study. The questionnaire study participants in seven study centres in Norther Europe were invited to questionnaire studies every 10th year in the RHINE study. These individuals are in the figure named as the G2 generation, and circled in blue.

Research has recently opened up for many questions regarding offspring health. The offspring of G2, named G3 in the figure and also circled in blue, were invited to their own RHINESSA study in 2012 and the following years. A total of 10 133 offspring from 10 collaborating study centres in Europe and Australia participated in a questionnaire study, and 1607 of these also participated in a clinical study, see the map at the bottom of the page.

Visual presentation of multigenerational study Rhinessa. Graphics

In Bergen study centre also the extended family of G2 and G3 has been studied. We obtained information from both parents of the G3 by inviting the other parent, the parent that had not participated in the ECRHS or RHINE study. Further, we have studied all the four grandparents of the G3 - the G1 generation, as well as the offspring of the G3 - the G4 generation. RHINESSA Bergen thus has questionnaire and clinical data for four generations, generations G1 to G4.
Follow-up of the RHINESSA G3 is currently being planned. A clinical follow-up study of about 230 persons was undertaken in Bergen centres during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. All ten RHINESSA study centres are currently planning a questionnaire follow-up of over 10.000 adult offspring.

By asking similar questions and performing similar clinical tests (adapted to age group) in each of the generations involved, we can discover how the health and life of preceding generations contribute to explain observed health in their children and grandchildren.

Overview over age groups in all study centres and in Bergen study centre. Graphics

We have investigated groups of RHINESSA participants, in order to characterize exposures and health outcomes, particularly respiratory health outcomes, related to the pandemic. In Bergen, the adult offspring clinical sample was reinvestigated November 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and 230 persons kindly participated in a clinical investigation adapted to the pandemic situation. Also, a community based group of COVID-19 patients have been studied following a similar protocol, at 3 months and 12 months after going through the infection. This study was performed in collaboration with the Influenza centre

RHINESSA aims to contribute to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG #3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, SDG #5 to promote gender equality, and #11 to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.  
  • SDG 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
  • SDG 3.7: By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.
  • SDG 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
  • SDG 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  • SDG 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality, municipal and other waste management.
  • SDG 11.7: by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
Illustration UN sustainable development goals 3, 5 and 11.



      RHINESSA Study centres

      Here you can find links to all the RHINESSA study centres in their local languages.
      RHINESSA study centres
      RHINESSA study centres

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        Sist oppdatert 04.05.2023