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Multidisciplinary design and analytic approaches to advance prospective research on the multilevel determinants of child health

TitleMultidisciplinary design and analytic approaches to advance prospective research on the multilevel determinants of child health
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJohnson, SB, Little, TD, Masyn, K, Mehta, PD, Ghazarian, SR
JournalAnn Epidemiol
Date PublishedJun
ISBN Number1873-2585 (Electronic)1047-2797 (Linking)
Accession Number28571913
Keywordschild health, Cohort Studies, Longitudinal, Missing data, Mixture model, Multilevel, Precision medicine, Study design

PURPOSE: Characterizing the determinants of child health and development over time, and identifying the mechanisms by which these determinants operate, is a research priority. The growth of precision medicine has increased awareness and refinement of conceptual frameworks, data management systems, and analytic methods for multilevel data. This article reviews key methodological challenges in cohort studies designed to investigate multilevel influences on child health and strategies to address them. METHODS: We review and summarize methodological challenges that could undermine prospective studies of the multilevel determinants of child health and ways to address them, borrowing approaches from the social and behavioral sciences. RESULTS: Nested data, variation in intervals of data collection and assessment, missing data, construct measurement across development and reporters, and unobserved population heterogeneity pose challenges in prospective multilevel cohort studies with children. We discuss innovations in missing data, innovations in person-oriented analyses, and innovations in multilevel modeling to address these challenges. CONCLUSIONS: Study design and analytic approaches that facilitate the integration across multiple levels, and that account for changes in people and the multiple, dynamic, nested systems in which they participate over time, are crucial to fully realize the promise of precision medicine for children and adolescents.