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1.  “It’s a balance of just getting things right”: mothers’ views about pre-school childhood obesity and obesity prevention in Scotland 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1009.
Background
The high prevalence of childhood obesity is a concern for policy makers and health professionals, leading to a focus on early prevention. The beliefs and perspectives of parents about early childhood obesity, and their views and opinions about the need for weight management interventions for this age group are poorly understood.
Methods
A formative qualitative focus group study with parents of pre-school children took place in eight community-based locations throughout North-East Scotland to explore their ideas about the causes of early childhood obesity, personal experiences of effective weight management strategies, and views about the format and content of a possible child-orientated weight management programme. Study participants were recruited via pre-school nurseries.
Results
Thirty-four mothers (median age 37 years) took part in the study, but only two believed their child had a weight problem. Participants (who focussed primarily on dietary issues) expressed a strong sense of personal responsibility to ‘get the balance right’ regarding their child’s weight, and were generally resistant to the idea of attending a weight management programme aimed at very young children. At the same time, they described a range of challenges to their weight management intentions. These included dealing with intrinsic uncertainties such as knowing when to stop ‘demand feeding’ for weight gain, and judging appropriate portion sizes - for themselves and their children. In addition they faced a range of extrinsic challenges associated with complex family life, i.e. catering to differing family members dietary needs, food preferences, practices and values, and keeping their ‘family food rules’ (associated with weight management) when tired or pressed for time.
Conclusions
The findings have important implications for health professionals and policy makers wishing to engage with parents on this issue, or who are currently developing ‘family-centred’ early childhood weight management interventions. The challenge lies in the fact that mothers believe themselves to be the primary (and capable) agents of obesity prevention in the early years – but, who are at the same time, attempting to deal with many mixed and conflicting messages and pressures emanating from their social and cultural environments that may be undermining their weight management intentions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1009
PMCID: PMC4192741  PMID: 25260375
Young children; Obesity; Mother’s views; Weight management; Qualitative research; Scotland
2.  Physical capability and subsequent positive mental wellbeing in older people: findings from five HALCyon cohorts 
Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands)  2013;36(1):10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8.
Objective measures of physical capability are being used in a growing number of studies as biomarkers of healthy ageing. However, very little research has been done to assess the impact of physical capability on subsequent positive mental wellbeing, the maintenance of which is widely considered to be an essential component of healthy ageing. We aimed to test the associations of grip strength and walking, timed get up and go and chair rise speeds (assessed at ages 53 to 82 years) with positive mental wellbeing assessed using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) five to ten years later. Data were drawn from five British cohorts participating in the HALCyon research collaboration. Data from each study were analysed separately and then combined using random-effects meta-analyses. Higher levels of physical capability were consistently associated with higher subsequent levels of wellbeing; for example, a 1SD increase in grip strength was associated with an age and sex-adjusted mean difference in WEMWBS score of 0.81 (0.25, 1.37), equivalent to 10% of a standard deviation (3 studies, N=3,096). When adjusted for body size, health status, living alone, socioeconomic position and neuroticism the associations remained albeit attenuated. The finding of these consistent modest associations across five studies, spanning early and later old age, highlights the importance of maintaining physical capability in later life and provides additional justification for using objective measures of physical capability as markers of healthy ageing.
doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8
PMCID: PMC3818137  PMID: 23818103
physical capability; positive mental wellbeing; grip strength; walking speed; chair rise time
3.  Preterm birth, infant weight gain, and childhood asthma risk: A meta-analysis of 147,000 European children 
Background
Preterm birth, low birth weight, and infant catch-up growth seem associated with an increased risk of respiratory diseases in later life, but individual studies showed conflicting results.
Objectives
We performed an individual participant data meta-analysis for 147,252 children of 31 birth cohort studies to determine the associations of birth and infant growth characteristics with the risks of preschool wheezing (1-4 years) and school-age asthma (5-10 years).
Methods
First, we performed an adjusted 1-stage random-effect meta-analysis to assess the combined associations of gestational age, birth weight, and infant weight gain with childhood asthma. Second, we performed an adjusted 2-stage random-effect meta-analysis to assess the associations of preterm birth (gestational age <37 weeks) and low birth weight (<2500 g) with childhood asthma outcomes.
Results
Younger gestational age at birth and higher infant weight gain were independently associated with higher risks of preschool wheezing and school-age asthma (P < .05). The inverse associations of birth weight with childhood asthma were explained by gestational age at birth. Compared with term-born children with normal infant weight gain, we observed the highest risks of school-age asthma in children born preterm with high infant weight gain (odds ratio [OR], 4.47; 95% CI, 2.58-7.76). Preterm birth was positively associated with an increased risk of preschool wheezing (pooled odds ratio [pOR], 1.34; 95% CI, 1.25-1.43) and school-age asthma (pOR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.18-1.67) independent of birth weight. Weaker effect estimates were observed for the associations of low birth weight adjusted for gestational age at birth with preschool wheezing (pOR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00-1.21) and school-age asthma (pOR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.01-1.27).
Conclusion
Younger gestational age at birth and higher infant weight gain were associated with childhood asthma outcomes. The associations of lower birth weight with childhood asthma were largely explained by gestational age at birth.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2013.12.1082
PMCID: PMC4024198  PMID: 24529685
Gestational age; low birth weight; infant growth; wheezing; asthma; children; cohort studies; epidemiology; BMI, Body mass index; ISAAC, International Study on Asthma and Allergy in Childhood; OR, Odds ratio; pOR, Pooled odds ratio; SDS, Standard deviation scores
4.  Functional Gene Group Analysis Indicates No Role for Heterotrimeric G Proteins in Cognitive Ability 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91690.
Previous functional gene group analyses implicated common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in heterotrimeric G protein coding genes as being associated with differences in human intelligence. Here, we sought to replicate this finding using five independent cohorts of older adults including current IQ and childhood IQ, and using both gene- and SNP-based analytic strategies. No significant associations were found between variation in heterotrimeric G protein genes and intelligence in any cohort at either of the two time points. These results indicate that, whereas G protein systems are important in cognition, common genetic variation in these genes is unlikely to be a substantial influence on human intelligence differences.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091690
PMCID: PMC3953514  PMID: 24626473
6.  Physical capability and subsequent positive mental wellbeing in older people: findings from five HALCyon cohorts 
Age  2013;36(1):445-456.
Objective measures of physical capability are being used in a growing number of studies as biomarkers of healthy ageing. However, very little research has been done to assess the impact of physical capability on subsequent positive mental wellbeing, the maintenance of which is widely considered to be an essential component of healthy ageing. We aimed to test the associations of grip strength and walking, timed get up and go and chair rise speeds (assessed at ages 53 to 82 years) with positive mental wellbeing assessed using the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) 5 to 10 years later. Data were drawn from five British cohorts participating in the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course research collaboration. Data from each study were analysed separately and then combined using random-effects meta-analyses. Higher levels of physical capability were consistently associated with higher subsequent levels of wellbeing; for example, a 1SD increase in grip strength was associated with an age and sex-adjusted mean difference in WEMWBS score of 0.81 (0.25, 1.37), equivalent to 10 % of a standard deviation (three studies, N = 3,096). When adjusted for body size, health status, living alone, socioeconomic position and neuroticism the associations remained albeit attenuated. The finding of these consistent modest associations across five studies, spanning early and later old age, highlights the importance of maintaining physical capability in later life and provides additional justification for using objective measures of physical capability as markers of healthy ageing.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9553-8
PMCID: PMC3818137  PMID: 23818103
Physical capability; Positive mental wellbeing; Grip strength; Walking speed; Chair rise time
7.  Significant others, situations and infant feeding behaviour change processes: a serial qualitative interview study 
Background
Exclusive breastfeeding until six months followed by the introduction of solids and continued breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Organisation. The dominant approach to achieving this has been to educate and support women to start and continue breastfeeding rather than understanding behaviour change processes from a broader perspective.
Method
Serial qualitative interviews examined the influences of significant others on women’s feeding behaviour. Thirty-six women and 37 nominated significant others participated in 220 interviews, conducted approximately four weekly from late pregnancy to six months after birth. Responses to summative structured questions at the end of each interview asking about significant influences on feeding decisions were compared and contrasted with formative semi-structured data within and between cases. Analysis focused on pivotal points where behaviour changed from exclusive breastfeeding to introducing formula, stopping breastfeeding or introducing solids. This enabled us to identify processes that decelerate or accelerate behaviour change and understand resolution processes afterwards.
Results
The dominant goal motivating behaviour change was family wellbeing, rather than exclusive breastfeeding. Rather than one type of significant other emerging as the key influence, there was a complex interplay between the self-baby dyad, significant others, situations and personal or vicarious feeding history. Following behaviour change women turned to those most likely to confirm or resolve their decisions and maintain their confidence as mothers.
Conclusions
Applying ecological models of behaviour would enable health service organisation, practice, policy and research to focus on enhancing family efficacy and wellbeing, improving family-centred communication and increasing opportunities for health professionals to be a constructive influence around pivotal points when feeding behaviour changes. A paradigm shift is recommended away from the dominant approach of support and education of individual women towards a more holistic, family-centred narrative approach, whilst acknowledging that breastfeeding is a practical skill that women and babies have to learn.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-114
PMCID: PMC3663663  PMID: 23679158
Infant feeding; Behaviour change; Qualitative; Person-centred care
8.  Children's Food and Drink Purchasing Behaviour “Beyond the School Gate”: The Development of a Survey Module 
ISRN Nutrition  2013;2013:501450.
Many children eat a diet which supplies a higher than recommended amount of nonmilk extrinsic sugars and saturated fatty acids. The school setting is often targeted for nutrition intervention as many children consume food at school. In Scotland, attempts have been made to improve the nutritional content of food in schools and attention has now turned to food and drink available “beyond the school gate.” This paper describes the development of a module on food and drink purchasing behaviour. The Food Purchasing Module was designed to collect data, for the first time, from a representative sample of children aged 8–16 years about food and drinks purchased on the way to/from school, during break time/free periods, and at lunchtime, from outlets around schools. Cognitive testing of the module highlighted that younger children find self-completion questionnaires problematic. Older children have fewer problems with self-completion questionnaires but many do not follow question routing, which has implications for the delivery of future surveys. Development of this survey module adds much needed evidence about effectively involving children in surveys. Further research exploring food and drinks purchased beyond the school gate is needed to continue to improve the nutritional quality of children's diets.
doi:10.5402/2013/501450
PMCID: PMC4045275  PMID: 24959546
9.  Cognitive Function in Childhood and Lifetime Cognitive Change in Relation to Mental Wellbeing in Four Cohorts of Older People 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44860.
Background
Poorer cognitive ability in youth is a risk factor for later mental health problems but it is largely unknown whether cognitive ability, in youth or in later life, is predictive of mental wellbeing. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether cognitive ability at age 11 years, cognitive ability in later life, or lifetime cognitive change are associated with mental wellbeing in older people.
Methods
We used data on 8191 men and women aged 50 to 87 years from four cohorts in the HALCyon collaborative research programme into healthy ageing: the Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936, the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921, the National Child Development Survey, and the MRC National Survey for Health and Development. We used linear regression to examine associations between cognitive ability at age 11, cognitive ability in later life, and lifetime change in cognitive ability and mean score on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and meta-analysis to obtain an overall estimate of the effect of each.
Results
People whose cognitive ability at age 11 was a standard deviation above the mean scored 0.53 points higher on the mental wellbeing scale (95% confidence interval 0.36, 0.71). The equivalent value for cognitive ability in later life was 0.89 points (0.72, 1.07). A standard deviation improvement in cognitive ability in later life relative to childhood ability was associated with 0.66 points (0.39, 0.93) advantage in wellbeing score. These effect sizes equate to around 0.1 of a standard deviation in mental wellbeing score. Adjustment for potential confounding and mediating variables, primarily the personality trait neuroticism, substantially attenuated these associations.
Conclusion
Associations between cognitive ability in childhood or lifetime cognitive change and mental wellbeing in older people are slight and may be confounded by personality trait differences.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044860
PMCID: PMC3438162  PMID: 22970320
10.  Process evaluation for the FEeding Support Team (FEST) randomised controlled feasibility trial of proactive and reactive telephone support for breastfeeding women living in disadvantaged areas 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e001039.
Objective
To assess the feasibility, acceptability and fidelity of a feeding team intervention with an embedded randomised controlled trial of team-initiated (proactive) and woman-initiated (reactive) telephone support after hospital discharge.
Design
Participatory approach to the design and implementation of a pilot trial embedded within a before-and-after study, with mixed-method process evaluation.
Setting
A postnatal ward in Scotland.
Sample
Women initiating breast feeding and living in disadvantaged areas.
Methods
Quantitative data: telephone call log and workload diaries. Qualitative data: interviews with women (n=40) with follow-up (n=11) and staff (n=17); ward observations 2 weeks before and after the intervention; recorded telephone calls (n=16) and steering group meetings (n=9); trial case notes (n=69); open question in a telephone interview (n=372). The Framework approach to analysis was applied to mixed-method data.
Main outcome measures
Quantitative: telephone call characteristics (number, frequency, duration); workload activity. Qualitative: experiences and perspectives of women and staff.
Results
A median of eight proactive calls per woman (n=35) with a median duration of 5 min occurred in the 14 days following hospital discharge. Only one of 34 control women initiated a call to the feeding team, with women undervaluing their own needs compared to others, and breast feeding as a reason to call. Proactive calls providing continuity of care increased women's confidence and were highly valued. Data demonstrated intervention fidelity for woman-centred care; however, observing an entire breast feed was not well implemented due to short hospital stays, ward routines and staff–team–woman communication issues. Staff pragmatically recognised that dedicated feeding teams help meet women's breastfeeding support needs in the context of overstretched and variable postnatal services.
Conclusions
Implementing and integrating the FEeding Support Team (FEST) trial within routine postnatal care was feasible and acceptable to women and staff from a research and practice perspective and shows promise for addressing health inequalities.
Trial registration
ISRCTN27207603. The study protocol and final report is available on request.
Article summary
Article focus
To use a participatory approach to design, deliver and implement a feeding support team intervention integrated into routine postnatal ward care and to deliver a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) of proactive and reactive telephone support for breast feeding for up to 14 days after hospital discharge for women living in more disadvantaged areas.
To use a mixed qualitative and quantitative methods process evaluation to assess the study acceptability, feasibility and intervention fidelity from the perspectives of women and National Health Service staff.
To inform the design of a future definitive RCT.
Key messages
Women living in disadvantaged areas are unlikely to initiate calls for help with breast feeding and proactive telephone calls may help to counteract the inverse care law.
Women undervalue both breast feeding and their own needs compared with the needs of others as a reason to ask for help in the context of overstretched maternity services.
A caring, reassuring woman-centred communication style with continuity of care from hospital to home was valued and increased women's confidence.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The participatory approach embedding a rigorous RCT within a before-and-after cohort study with mixed-methods data to evaluate implementation processes and costs are strengths that will enable us to design a feasible and acceptable definitive trial.
The contribution of the personal characteristics and skills of the feeding team to the intervention was important and may be challenging to replicate.
The low number of women who reported having an entire breast feed observed is a limitation and warrants further investigation.
More research is required before feeding teams and proactive calls are widely implemented as there are likely to be unintended consequences to such an organisational change in postnatal care.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001039
PMCID: PMC3341595  PMID: 22535794
11.  The FEeding Support Team (FEST) randomised, controlled feasibility trial of proactive and reactive telephone support for breastfeeding women living in disadvantaged areas 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000652.
Objective
To assess the feasibility of implementing a dedicated feeding support team on a postnatal ward and pilot the potential effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of team (proactive) and woman-initiated (reactive) telephone support after discharge.
Design
Randomised controlled trial embedded within a before-and-after study. Participatory approach and mixed-method process evaluation.
Setting
A postnatal ward in Scotland.
Sample
Women living in disadvantaged areas initiating breast feeding.
Methods
Eligible women were recruited to a before-and-after intervention study, a proportion of whom were independently randomised after hospital discharge to intervention: daily proactive and reactive telephone calls for ≤14 days or control: reactive telephone calls ≤ day 14. Intention-to-treat analysis compared the randomised groups on cases with complete outcomes at follow-up.
Main outcome measures
Primary outcome: any breast feeding at 6–8 weeks assessed by a telephone call from a researcher blind to group allocation. Secondary outcomes: exclusive breast feeding, satisfaction with care, NHS costs and cost per additional woman breast feeding.
Results
There was no difference in feeding outcomes for women initiating breast feeding before the intervention (n=413) and after (n=388). 69 women were randomised to telephone support: 35 intervention (32 complete cases) and 34 control (26 complete cases). 22 intervention women compared with 12 control women were giving their baby some breast milk (RR 1.49, 95% CI 0.92 to 2.40) and 17 intervention women compared with eight control women were exclusively breast feeding (RR 1.73, 95% CI 0.88 to 3.37) at 6–8 weeks after birth. The incremental cost of providing proactive calls was £87 per additional woman breast feeding and £91 per additional woman exclusively breast feeding at 6–8 weeks; costs were sensitive to service organisation.
Conclusions
Proactive telephone care delivered by a dedicated feeding team shows promise as a cost-effective intervention for improving breastfeeding outcomes. Integrating the FEeding Support Team (FEST) intervention into routine postnatal care was feasible.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN27207603. The study protocol and final report are available on request.
Article summary
Article focus
To pilot the potential effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of continuing proactive and reactive telephone support for breast feeding for up to 14 days after hospital discharge for women living in more disadvantaged areas.
To assess the feasibility of implementing a dedicated feeding team on a postnatal ward.
To design an effective health service intervention for infant feeding by re-organising how routine care is provided to inform a larger programme of research.
Key messages
Proactive telephone care delivered by a dedicated feeding team shows promise for increasing breastfeeding rates 6–8 weeks after birth.
Only having a dedicated feeding team on a postnatal ward did not appear to make any difference to feeding outcomes at 6–8 weeks after birth.
We have demonstrated the feasibility of (1) implementing the FEeding Support Team intervention as part of routine postnatal care and (2) the recruitment and data collection processes for a proposed definitive trial.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Using a participatory approach and embedding a rigorous randomised control trial within a before-and-after cohort study with mixed methods data to evaluate costs are strengths that will enable us to design a definitive trial.
It is likely that the effect sizes are overestimated as the sample size was small and no sample size calculation was performed prior to the study.
Our sample included women requiring longer hospital stays due to birth complications.
The reactive call service was only free to those who had the same mobile phone network provider.
The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios presented represent the most favourable set of assumptions for proactive telephone support and are sensitive to how the service is organised.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000652
PMCID: PMC3341594  PMID: 22535790
12.  A serial qualitative interview study of infant feeding experiences: idealism meets realism 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000504.
Objective
To investigate the infant feeding experiences of women and their significant others from pregnancy until 6 months after birth to establish what would make a difference.
Design
Qualitative serial interview study.
Setting
Two health boards in Scotland.
Participants
72 of 541 invited pregnant women volunteered. 220 interviews approximately every 4 weeks with 36 women, 26 partners, eight maternal mothers, one sister and two health professionals took place.
Results
The overarching theme was a clash between overt or covert infant feeding idealism and the reality experienced. This is manifest as pivotal points where families perceive that the only solution that will restore family well-being is to stop breast feeding or introduce solids. Immediate family well-being is the overriding goal rather than theoretical longer term health benefits. Feeding education is perceived as unrealistic, overly technical and rules based which can undermine women's confidence. Unanimously families would prefer the balance to shift away from antenatal theory towards more help immediately after birth and at 3–4 months when solids are being considered. Family-orientated interactive discussions are valued above breastfeeding-centred checklist style encounters.
Conclusions
Adopting idealistic global policy goals like exclusive breast feeding until 6 months as individual goals for women is unhelpful. More achievable incremental goals are recommended. Using a proactive family-centred narrative approach to feeding care might enable pivotal points to be anticipated and resolved. More attention to the diverse values, meanings and emotions around infant feeding within families could help to reconcile health ideals with reality.
Article summary
Article focus
To investigate the perspectives of women and their wider family and social network on infant feeding from pregnancy until 6 months after birth.
To ascertain what would make a difference to their experiences of breast feeding and the introduction of other fluids and solids.
To focus on health inequalities and to understand interactions between women, professionals, organisations and systems to inform policy, practice and the design of complex intervention trials to improve infant feeding outcomes.
Key messages
Clashes between overt or covert idealism and realism within and between families and the health service occur at pivotal points particularly in the early weeks after birth and around the introduction of solids.
At pivotal points, families often perceive the only solution within their control that will restore family well-being is to stop breast feeding or introduce solids or other fluids. Using a family-centred narrative approach could enable pivotal points to be anticipated and resolved.
Translating global policy goals like exclusive breast feeding until 6 months into practice is unhelpful and achievable incremental goal setting is recommended.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Original interpretation using robust and transparent methods in a relatively large data set of serial interviews about infant feeding, with recruitment of women living in more disadvantaged areas.
Findings which are relevant to current policy and practice, particularly the Unicef Baby Friendly initiative.
An explicit aim to elicit the views of women and their significant others to inform future intervention studies, policy and practice.
Our findings are hypothesis generating rather than hypothesis testing.
It is uncertain how transferable our data is outside the UK context, particularly to countries where breast feeding prevalence is high.
Although we targeted more disadvantaged areas for recruitment, our sample was more economically advantaged than we would have liked.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000504
PMCID: PMC3307036  PMID: 22422915
13.  Age and Gender Differences in Physical Capability Levels from Mid-Life Onwards: The Harmonisation and Meta-Analysis of Data from Eight UK Cohort Studies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27899.
Using data from eight UK cohorts participating in the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) research programme, with ages at physical capability assessment ranging from 50 to 90+ years, we harmonised data on objective measures of physical capability (i.e. grip strength, chair rising ability, walking speed, timed get up and go, and standing balance performance) and investigated the cross-sectional age and gender differences in these measures. Levels of physical capability were generally lower in study participants of older ages, and men performed better than women (for example, results from meta-analyses (N = 14,213 (5 studies)), found that men had 12.62 kg (11.34, 13.90) higher grip strength than women after adjustment for age and body size), although for walking speed, this gender difference was attenuated after adjustment for body size. There was also evidence that the gender difference in grip strength diminished with increasing age,whereas the gender difference in walking speed widened (p<0.01 for interactions between age and gender in both cases). This study highlights not only the presence of age and gender differences in objective measures of physical capability but provides a demonstration that harmonisation of data from several large cohort studies is possible. These harmonised data are now being used within HALCyon to understand the lifetime social and biological determinants of physical capability and its changes with age.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027899
PMCID: PMC3218057  PMID: 22114723
14.  Childhood Socioeconomic Position and Objectively Measured Physical Capability Levels in Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15564.
Background
Grip strength, walking speed, chair rising and standing balance time are objective measures of physical capability that characterise current health and predict survival in older populations. Socioeconomic position (SEP) in childhood may influence the peak level of physical capability achieved in early adulthood, thereby affecting levels in later adulthood. We have undertaken a systematic review with meta-analyses to test the hypothesis that adverse childhood SEP is associated with lower levels of objectively measured physical capability in adulthood.
Methods and Findings
Relevant studies published by May 2010 were identified through literature searches using EMBASE and MEDLINE. Unpublished results were obtained from study investigators. Results were provided by all study investigators in a standard format and pooled using random-effects meta-analyses. 19 studies were included in the review. Total sample sizes in meta-analyses ranged from N = 17,215 for chair rise time to N = 1,061,855 for grip strength. Although heterogeneity was detected, there was consistent evidence in age adjusted models that lower childhood SEP was associated with modest reductions in physical capability levels in adulthood: comparing the lowest with the highest childhood SEP there was a reduction in grip strength of 0.13 standard deviations (95% CI: 0.06, 0.21), a reduction in mean walking speed of 0.07 m/s (0.05, 0.10), an increase in mean chair rise time of 6% (4%, 8%) and an odds ratio of an inability to balance for 5s of 1.26 (1.02, 1.55). Adjustment for the potential mediating factors, adult SEP and body size attenuated associations greatly. However, despite this attenuation, for walking speed and chair rise time, there was still evidence of moderate associations.
Conclusions
Policies targeting socioeconomic inequalities in childhood may have additional benefits in promoting the maintenance of independence in later life.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015564
PMCID: PMC3027621  PMID: 21297868
15.  How useful are the SF-36 sub-scales in older people? Mokken scaling of data from the HALCyon programme 
Quality of Life Research  2011;20(7):1005-1010.
Purpose
To evaluate two psychometric properties of SF-36, namely unidimensionality and reliability.
Methods
The data are from three cohorts in the HALCyon collaborative research programme into healthy ageing: Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936 (n = 428), Hertfordshire Ageing Study (n = 358) and Hertfordshire Cohort Study (n = 3,216). The Mokken scaling model was applied to each sub-scale of SF-36 to evaluate unidimensionality as indicated by scalability. The lower bound for internal consistency reliability was determined by Cronbach’s alpha.
Results
All six sub-scales of SF-36, with the exception of general health (GH) and mental health (MH), demonstrated strong scalability (0.5 ≤ H < 1). The results were consistent across all 3 cohorts. Both GH and MH showed medium scalability (0.4 ≤ H <0.55), although individual items ‘sick easier..’, ‘as healthy as..’ and ‘expect to get worse’ of the GH sub-scale and ‘nervous’, ‘happy’ in the MH sub-scale had low scalability (H < 0.4) in the oldest cohort (aged 73–83). Cronbach’s alphas for all sub-scales were between 0.70 and 0.92.
Conclusions
The unidimensionality and reliability of the sub-scales of SF-36 are sufficient to make this a useful measure of health-related quality of life in older people. Caution is needed when interpreting the results for GH and MH in the oldest cohort due to the poor unidimensionality.
doi:10.1007/s11136-010-9838-7
PMCID: PMC3161183  PMID: 21225350
SF-36; Psychometric properties; Unidimensionality; Reliability; Cronbach’s alpha; Mokken scaling

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