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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland Associate Professors Add Family and Historical Context to Health Research

The Life Course Health and Development Model (LCHD) is a framework of extensive maternal and child health research. University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Dr. Marian Moser Jones and Dr. Kevin Roy recently published an article in the Maternal and Child Health Journal suggesting updates to the model to improve its effectiveness and relevance to the field. In “Placing Health Trajectories in Family and Historical Context: A Proposed Enrichment of the Life Course Health and Development Model,” they argue that LCHD add family health trajectories and appropriate considerations of social determinants to its understanding of how individual health trajectories develop over one’s life. The article includes specific suggestions for how to integrate these layers of context into the existing model to better understand the influence of family, community, and society on individual health.

[Photo: Dr. Marian Moser Jones (left) and Dr. Kevin Roy]

Dr. Roy had this to say about the project: “We first developed this article to present at a theory construction workshop at the NCFR conference in 2012. We were inspired by a mutual respect for the life course framework, but we were struck by how life course public health researchers and social scientists used different concepts and spoke to different audiences. We hoped that the two perspectives might inform each other — and build a bridge between the disciplines. It might also help to create a language that both of our programs in the department could use as well.”

Dr. Moser Jones continues, “Our article proposes ways to enrich the life course health and development model used in maternal and child health research, by adding family and historical context. Basically, the model says that we need to look at individual health as a process that unfolds over the lifetime, and is influenced by biological and psychosocial factors. It points to the way that timing is critical in how positive and negative biological, psychological and social factors can influence a person’s health. Moreover, we need to place a person’s individual health trajectory within the context of their family’s health trajectory, and within the context of specific historical events and trends that influence who has access to healthy environments and health care.”

The authors, both of whom are in Maryland’s department of family science, believe that this framework supports the idea that families move toward or away from good health together, and that this happens in the real world, where social inequities have historically (and continue to) affect family health and well being.

“Placing Health Trajectories in Family and Historical Context: A Proposed Enrichment of the Life Course Health and Development Model” was published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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