Pathways: Biosocial influences on health

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/I025561/1 01/10/2011 31/03/2015 £742,141
ES/I025561/2 Transfer ES/I025561/1 01/05/2012 30/09/2013 £802,220
ES/I025561/3 Transfer ES/I025561/2 01/10/2013 31/03/2015 £433,394
 
Description We aimed to promote cross fertilisation of methodologies used in the social and biomedical sciences in order to enhance the capacity of social scientists to investigate hypothesised causal pathways between biological and social factors and make the best use of new data on biological measures (biomarkers) included in the UK's collection of population based data sets.

We addressed our objectives through the provision of training courses and events and through our research. Events and training included arranging a successful day meeting on Genome Wide Association Studies with leading international contributors which was held at the Royal Statistical Society and a day meeting on Mediation analysis, again with leading international contributors, held prior to the 2014 Research Methods Festival. We also developed and put on a special course in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Much of our research used biomarker data available in ESRC supported studies to tackle questions about how social factors influences health over the lifecourse. One paper (Ploubidis et al 2015) used data in the National Child Development Study (1958 birth cohort) to examine the effects of partnership trajectories over adult life on various biomarkers measured in middle age. Previous studies have mainly used mortality as an outcome, which is not very suitable as an indicator of health for people in mid-life, or self-reported measures which may be influenced by reporting patterns that vary with, for example, level of education. We took account of early life circumstances which may influence both partnership and later health and derived trajectories of partnership from measures at several points in adult life. The results showed that people who were cohabiting without being married had very similar standards of health to married couples and that the health of those experiencing divorce or separation suffered at the time but tended to bounce back as long they formed another partnership.

In our research based on analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we used biological measures to derive an indicator of allostatic load - an indicator of multisystem physical dysregulation hypothesised to be an outcome of chronic stress (Read and Grundy 2014; Grundy and Read 2015). Our research on associations between fertility histories and later health showed that early parenthood and larger family size were associated with higher (worse) allostatic load in later life health and much of this was accounted for by lower wealth and poorer health related behaviours.

Methodological advances included development, testing and application of a new method for assessing non-linear causal effects in Mendelian randomisation studies (studies in which a genetic instrument is used to asses causal associations between an exposure and an outcome). Application of this method showed non-linear effects of alcohol intake on several cardiovascular outcomes (Silverwood et al, 2014). In other methodological work we examined the analytical difficulties posed by intermediate confounding and multiple mediators when studying causal pathways and developed new insights and methods drawing from both the structural equation modelling and causal inference literature (DeStavola et al 2014; Daniel et al 2014).
Exploitation Route We consider there is considerable scope to further develop and extend both our substantive and methodological work. For example, one approach to mediation analysis that is increasingly being adopted in epidemiology, but not to the same extent in the social sciences, is that based on counterfactual thinking emanating from the causal inference literature. There are particular challenges around how to deal with sequential mediation (multiple, temporally ordered, mediators), with mediating variables that are only measured by a battery of (possibly sequential) proxy indicators (e.g. "health behaviour"), and with time-to-event outcomes. We also believe more work on the predictive value of biomarker data, and measures based on biomarkers, is needed. There remains a need for further cross disciplinary training and exchange on methodological development and application.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://www.ncrm.ac.uk/research/phase3.php?n=6
 
Description The Pathways programme contributed to methodological and substantive advances and also to training, as detailed in Key Findings and engagement activities sections. Training and engagement activities included development and delivery of a special one day course for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2013. Chris Goulden , Head of the Poverty Team at JRF reports: 'The workshop informed our work on theories of change for research programmes as well as for understanding how the system of poverty operates in the UK.' Other impact through improved training of trainers, researchers, research commissioners and policy experts is expected to continue.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description A Short Course on Concepts and Methods in Causal Inference
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational and learning impact
 
Description A short course on concepts and methods in causal inference 2013
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact for statitcal inference and software use
 
Description A short course on concepts and methods in causal inference 2014
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Training on statistical inference and software analysis
 
Description Causal mediation analysis in social and medical research
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Training on statistics
 
Description Confounded about confounding? An introduction to causal inference
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Genetics for Social Scientists (Intermediate course)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Introduction to Biomarkers for Social Scientists 2013
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Introduction to Biomarkers for Social Scientists Training Course
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational training
 
Description Introduction to Genetics for Social Scientists Training Course
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Introduction to Genetics for Social Scientists Training Course 2013
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description New approaches to biosocial research: using genes in social and epidemiological studies
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Social disadvantage, child health and attainment: The potential of analyses of the UK census-based longitudinal studies
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Studying pathways between social and biological factors using modern causal inference methods: an example using data from the ONS Longitudinal Study
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact on statistical methods
 
Description Studying pathways between social and biological factors: can modern methods in causal inference help? 
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Towards a common language in statistical methodology: examples from current applications in economics and health research
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Learning about statistical methods
 
Description Understanding pathways: Structural equation modelling and beyond
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Educational impact
 
Description Using biomarkers in research on health
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Collaborative partnership between NCRM Pathways and LEMMA III 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the collaborative project is to produce several electronic notebooks (eBooks) for use with the STAT-JR software package for teaching social science researchers about causal modelling and missing data and assisting them in performing their statistical analyses. To put this into context requires some background on the two project teams involved.
Collaborator Contribution In the LEMMA II node in NCRM phase 2, and the current e-STAT node in the Digital Social research programme, the team at the Centre for Multilevel Modelling, Bristol (with collaborators at the University of Southampton) have developed the new STAT-JR software package.
Impact Ebook used by respondents and feedback was received
Start Year 2012
 
Description Collaborative partnership between NCRM Pathways and PEPA 
Organisation Institute for Fiscal Studies
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution A successful application has been made to access the administrative data to ELSA which will enable estimation of costs associated with childrearing, this analysis is in progress.
Collaborator Contribution Application to NATCEN for additional data on inter birth intervals was approved.
Impact A successful application has been made to access the administrative data to ELSA which will enable estimation of costs associated with childrearing, this analysis is in progress.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Collaborative proposal between NCRM Pathways and SLS and ADLS 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The project is highly relevant to the ESRC Strategic Priority 'Influencing behaviour and informing interventions' which identified as a key question: 'How does the interplay of childhood, family, community and wider society influence inequalities in wellbeing?' It is also relevant to 'A vibrant and fair society' as it will aid our understanding of social inequalities. Furthermore, as good child health and educational attainment pave the way for later productivity, the research has relevance to the third ESRC priority: economic performance and sustainable growth.
Collaborator Contribution The partners worked on maximising benefits from cross programme/resource impacts and provided support to users of the SLS, and some additional time will be required for development work on child health data, including checks on completeness and preparation of a user guide on the data.
Impact TBC
Start Year 2013
 
Description Causal Methods at LSHTM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Current and new approaches to estimating causal pathways from observational data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Discussion and questions

Requests for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Current and new approaches to estimating causal pathways from observational data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Questions and discussion

Request for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Fertility histories and later life health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Deelgates request for further information about the Pathways project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description From birth to childhood: Investigating socio-economic differences in health trajectories in the Scottish Longitudinal Study 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked discussion

Request for more details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Introduction to mediation analysis 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Request for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Mediation analysis for life course epidemiology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk prompted discussion

The talk encouraged peers to attend an event and visit our website for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Mediation analysis with multiple mediators: An application to the study of adolescent eating disorders 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked discussion

Request for more information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Mediation and life course epidemiology: challenges and examples: the 9 months that change your life 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Request for more details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Mediation and life course epidemiology:challenges and examples. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Requests for more details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Missing data and composite endpoints: Efficient estimation of the distribution of time to composite endpoint when one of the endpoints is incompletely observed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Tals sparked questions and discussion

Request for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Relations entre cycle de vie familiale et santé aux âges élevés 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Request for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Social disadvantage and infant mortality 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Questions and discussion

Requests for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The Cox model: introduction and history. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The Demography of Ageing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion

Request for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The European Health, Morbidity and Mortality Working Group workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked discussions and questions

The talk led to requests for more information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The Pathways programme: and Pathways from fertility history to later life health: Results from analyses of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

Request for further details
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The role of sensitivity analysis in estimating causal pathways from observational data 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Paper at Department of Biostatistics Seminar sparked interesting discussion

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The role of sensitivity analysis in the estimation of causal pathways from observational data 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Understanding pathways from fertility history to later life health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact N/A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Using longitudinal data to understand health inequalities at older ages 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion

Discussion and requests for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description What is Mendelian Randomisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Discussion

Request for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012