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Life Course Theory Patricia J. Settle, MS RD Pediatric Pulmonary Center Department of Pediatrics University of Arizona College of Medicine.

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Presentation on theme: "Life Course Theory Patricia J. Settle, MS RD Pediatric Pulmonary Center Department of Pediatrics University of Arizona College of Medicine."— Presentation transcript:

1 Life Course Theory Patricia J. Settle, MS RD Pediatric Pulmonary Center Department of Pediatrics University of Arizona College of Medicine

2 What is Life Course? Life Course is a way of looking at people in a conceptual framework - like many of us in healthcare or education have always done - viewing each person as a product of their genetics and environment resulting in a pathway that significantly impacts their health and healthcare. It is a common sense approach to many of us.

3 What is Life Course? A life course does not reflect single steps in a lifes path, but is an integrated continuum of exposures, experiences, and interactions. LCT looks at not only how health develops over a lifetime, but also across generations. What is our health at birth? (Are we a normal weight infant, or premature, or is there a medical condition present at birth?) What is the environment into which we are born? (Two parents, stable income, single parent with no job, parent in jail, no extended family support?)

4 What is Life Course? Life Course is a theory or perspective that seeks to understand, explain, and improve health and disease patterns across population groups. – Amy Fine Life Course suggests that a complex interplay of biological, behavioral, psychological, and social protective and risk factors contribute to health outcomes across the span of a persons life. – Cheri Pies

5 Risk and Protective Factors Protective factors improve health and contribute to healthy development. Risk factors diminish health and make it more difficult to reach ones full potential. Factors are not limited to individual behavior or access to health, but can include family, neighborhood, community, and social policy. Lifelong development/lifelong intervention – Throughout life and at all stages, even for those whose trajectories seem limited, risk factors can be reduced and protective factors enhanced, to improve current and subsequent health and well-being.

6 Early Programming Early experiences can program an individuals future health and development. This includes prenatal programming as well as intergenerational programming (i.e. the health of the mother prior to conception) that impact disease or condition, or make and individual more vulnerable or susceptible to developing a disease or condition in the future. (Childhood obesity epidemic) Fine and Kotelchuck, Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework, Concept Paper, DHHS, HRSA, October 2010.

7 Critical or Sensitive Period While adverse events and exposures can have an impact at any point in a persons life course, the impact is greatest at specific critical or sensitive periods of development (e.g. during fetal development, in early childhood, during adolescence, etc.). Fine and Kotelchuck, Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework, Concept Paper, DHHS, HRSA, October 2010.

8 Will you catch the big wave?

9 Cumulative Impact While individual episodes of stress may have minimal impact in an otherwise positive trajectory, the cumulative impact of multiple stresses over time may have a profound direct impact on health and development, as well as an indirect impact via associated behavioral or health services seeking changes. Fine and Kotelchuck, Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework, Concept Paper, DHHS, HRSA, October 2010.

10 MCH Life Course Literature Focuses on Two Key Questions The focus of LCT is on health equity and social determinants. Why do health disparities exist and persist across population groups? What are the factors that influence the capacity of individuals or populations to reach their full potential for health and well- being?

11 Goals of LCT The goal is to promote optimal health and development over a lifespan, across generations, with a focus on equity across communities and populations. MCHB is using LCT to provide a basis from which to begin to shape public health approaches for the future.

12 Life Course Resources Acknowledgement This presentation uses materials from the Material Child Health Bureau (MCHB) funded training programs Life Course Resource Library.


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