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Research

Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Developmental Study

The longitudinal on-going Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study is run by the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit and has traced the development of a representative cohort of 1,000 men and women born in 1972 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The aim of the study is to investigate the nature and prevalence of health and development problems as well as some causal factors, implications and longer-term consequences. Analyses will ascertain relations between the sample members’ adult status and variables drawn from extensive data gathered over many years for study members, their parents, their partners, and now their children. A list of publications from the study can be found here.

 

Professor Terrie Moffitt is an Associate Director of the Dunedin Research Unit and Principal Investigator (PI) on the following research programmes using the Dunedin Study data:

Mental Disorders From Childhood To Adulthood: The Dunedin Study - MRC (UK)

 

 

This research aims to build knowledge about four behaviour disorders: depression, schizophreniform, antisocial, and substance abuse disorders. In all four disorders, developmental subtypes have been proposed as a way forward to carve up the heterogeneity now hindering scientific understanding. We will study heterogeneity within each disorder over the first three decades of life, by analyzing variation in onset (early versus later) and subsequent course (persistent, recurrent, or limited). We aim to ascertain the existence, discriminant validity, and implications of developmental subgroups within disorders.

Life-course Persistent Antisocial Behaviour - MRC (UK)

 

This research aims to build knowledge about adult antisocial behaviour disorders and violence. Specific hypotheses address: (1) why some young adults persist in antisocial behaviour beyond adolescence while others desist, (2) what broad constellation of mental disorders and life problems accompanies adult antisocial behaviour, (3) if childhood aggression can lead to adulthood abuse of family members, (4) if bonds to a job or a romantic partner can foster recovery from antisocial behaviour, (5) how parental antisocial behaviour affects children of study participants, and (6) if developmental models of male antisocial behaviour apply to women, or if female-specific models are needed.

 

Professor Avshalom Caspi is PI on the following research programmes using the Dunedin Study data:

Uncovering and Confirming Gene-Environment Interactions in Psychopathology - NIMH (USA)

This research brings the Dunedin Study together with the Christchurch Longitudinal Health and Development Study and the E-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study to construct a data resource for replication testing of gene-environment interaction findings.

Personality and Health from Childhood to Adulthood - NIMH (USA)

This research applies life-course theory as an innovative framework to study health and personality development in a unique longitudinal study, from birth to age 31. With regard to health, specific hypotheses address the processes by which cumulative pathways of adversity and advantage during the first 30 years of life shape adult health. We also test whether psychosocial experiences between childhood and adulthood affect within-individual changes in health. With regard to personality, specific hypotheses address how work and relationship experiences affect men and women’s personality development as they make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Pathways to Health Among Young People - William T. Grant Foundation

 

The proposed research seeks to test hypotheses about how psychosocial conditions between birth and age 31 shape the development of physical health. Our approach to this project is informed by a new awareness in health disparities research that if risk for disease is influenced by what happens early in life, positive health promotion must begin with youth. Our specific goals are to (1) test connections between socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood and adult health, (2) to evaluate pathways from socioeconomic disadvantage to health risk via alternative developmental routes (e.g., stress experiences vs. lifestyle factors) and (3) to examine how social experiences influence within-individual changes in health among young people, from childhood to adulthood. The research is guided by a life-course approach to human development applied for the first time to health, and it is distinguished by three empirical components: It tests longitudinal connections from childhood to adulthood; it evaluates process models of developmental pathways; and it examines how specific life experiences shape changes in health within the lives of individual young people

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