B4238 - Childhood socioeconomic position and adolescent mental health Inter-generational comparisons using data from three British birt - 23/01/2023

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Eoin McElroy | Ulster University (Northern Ireland)
Caitlyn Rawers, Dr Orla McBride, Professor Jamie Murphy
Title of project: 
Childhood socioeconomic position and adolescent mental health: Inter-generational comparisons using data from three British birt
Proposal summary: 

Research strongly suggests that low socioeconomic position [SEP] in childhood is related to poorer mental health and behavioural outcomes, particularly in childhood and adolescence. Evidence suggests that low SEP is related to internalising and externalising symptoms, antisocial behaviour, and substance use behaviours. Interestingly, recent studies suggest that the relationship between childhood SEP and these emotional and behavioural outcomes are changing across generations.

Yet, these relationships vary considerably when different SEP indicators are examined. Traditional SEP indicators include income, education, occupational social class, and/or housing tenure; however, SEP is a multi-dimensional construct that is related to an individual's access to material, educational, and social resources. SEP indicators are limited in their ability to capture the multi-dimensionality of SEP when used in isolation, but using multiple SEP indicators can cause issues for statistical analysis if used improperly. Researchers have demonstrated that regression-based models may be inappropriate for investigating the effect of SEP on an outcome. Therefore, alternative approaches are needed and person-centred approaches, such as latent class analysis, are favoured in the literature.

Additionally, cross-cohort comparisons of emotional and behavioural outcomes necessitates retrospective harmonisation for the scales used. Retrospective harmonisation allows researchers to compare different scale measures that measure the same underlying construct in different cohorts, for example. Without conducting retrospective harmonisation, researchers cannot be assured that the findings observed not due to systematic differences between cohorts. This project will utilise both statistical processes to analyse differences in emotional and behavioural outcomes across three British birth cohorts.

Impact of research: 
This project will use retrospective harmonisation for measures of internalising and externalising behaviour, antisocial behaviour, and substance use to conduct valid cross-cohort comparisons on these constructs. Retrospective harmonisation has rarely used for cross-cohort comparisons in this field previously. Additionally, previous research has primarily focused on specific indicators of SEP instead of capturing multi-dimensional experiences of socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage, which this project will address using person-centred approaches. The effect of socioeconomic disadvantage on adolescent and adulthood outcomes is a significant area of concern due to the numerous and cumulative effects of early life adversity; the findings of this project may have significant implications for public policy and social welfare. It is anticipated that the results of this project will consolidate heterogenous findings on relationships between low childhood SEP and mental health, offending, and substance use in adolescence.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 20 January, 2023
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 23 January, 2023
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Statistical methods