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Family structure and child health

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This inter-disciplinary project investigates the relationship between family structure and early child health.

The two main aims are:

(1) to determine whether family structure and changes in family structure are associated with children's physical health in the Millennium Cohort Study;

(2) to explore potential pathways through which these associations operate. In spite of much public debate around families, marriage, and child outcomes, UK literature on this topic remains incomplete.

This thesis aims to fill two gaps: first, testing whether there is a link with children's physical health, rather than more commonly reported outcomes such as cognitive function or education achievements. Physical health outcomes included are respiratory health, childhood growth, and unintentional injuries. Second, few studies use prospective, longitudinal data and methods. Cross sectional studies cannot examine the direction of the relationship, nor capture the dynamics of changes in family structure.

Here, longitudinal techniques test a complex model made up of variables ordered a priori. In unadjusted analyses, family structure presented a consistent gradient in child health: cross-sectionally, children living with married parents had better health than those living with cohabiting parents, while those living with lone parents had the worst health.

Longitudinally, those who experienced changes in family structure fared worse than those living with continuously married parents, with some important exceptions, such as those living with cohabiting parents who subsequently married.

Socio-economic factors were important predictors of family structure and child health. Proximal pathways through which socio-economic characteristics and family structure affected child health varied according to health outcome. Maternal mental health appeared to be important across outcomes.

Concluding, this work shows the importance of using nuanced definitions of family, particularly when it comes to capturing its fluidity over time. Children who experienced changes in family structure were a heterogeneous group with diverse backgrounds and outcomes. Socio-economic factors emerged as important antecedents to both family structure and child health.

 

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Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas.

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Our best advice is to reference list internet sourced theses as ‘published’…. ie.; Author, (date). Title (emphasised). Place of publication and (university) publisher. Available from: URL reference. See our example reference below. ]

 

APA reference for this document

 

Reference :  Panico, L. (2012). Family structure and child health. Ph.D Thesis. London: UCL. Avaialble at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1344075/

 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 07:25