The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

The development of life course epidemiology

Blane, D. and Netuveli, G. (2007) The development of life course epidemiology Revue d'Epidemiologie et de Sante Publique, 55, (1), pp. 31-38. (doi:10.1016/j.respe.2006.12.004).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The present paper reviews the development of life course epidemiology since its origins during the 1990s from biological programming, birth cohort research and the study of health inequalities. Methods of studying the life course are examined, including birth cohort studies, linked register datasets and epidemiological archaeology. Three models of life course epidemiology are described: critical periods, accumulation, and pathways. Their conceptual and empirical differentiation can be difficult, but it is argued that accumulation is the underlying social process driving life course trajectories, while the critical period and pathway models are distinguished by their concern with specific types of aetiological process. Among the advantages of the accumulation model are predictive power, aetiological insights, contributions to health inequality debates and social policy implications. It is emphasised that the life course approach is not opposed to, or an alternative to, a concern with cross-sectional and current effects; major social disruption can have a large and immediate impact on health. Other limitations of the life course approach include a spectrum of impact (life course effects can be strong in relation to physiology, but often are weaker in relation to behaviour and psychological reactions to everyday life) and, more speculatively, the possibility that life course effects are diluted in the older age groups where morbidity and mortality are highest. Three issues for the future of life course epidemiology are identified. Many life course data are collected retrospectively. We need to know which items of information are recalled with what degree of accuracy over how many decades; and what methods of collecting these retrospective data maximise accuracy and duration. Second, the two partners in life course research need to take more seriously each other's disciplines. Social scientists need to be more critical of such measures as self-assessed health, which lacks an aetiology and hence biological plausibility. Natural scientists need to be more critical of such concepts as socio-economic status, which lacks social plausibility because it fails to distinguish between social location and social prestige. Finally, European comparative studies can play an important part in the future development of life course epidemiology if they build on the emerging infrastructure of European comparative research

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: February 2007
Keywords: life course, birth cohort study, life-grid, accumulation

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 71182
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/71182
ISSN: 0398-7620
PURE UUID: 28eb3064-3e96-4cfa-8a89-d488e78b31ab

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Jan 2010
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:01

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: D. Blane
Author: G. Netuveli

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×