Proposal summaries

These are research proposals that have been approved by the ALSPAC exec. The titles include a B number which identifies the proposal and the date on which the proposals received ALSPAC exec approval.

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B4598 - Disentangling the associations between community engagement inequalities and youth anxiety and depression - 29/04/2024

B number: 
B4598
Principal applicant name: 
Jessica Bone | University College London (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Daisy Fancourt, Dr Feifei Bu, Dr Gemma Lewis, Prof Glyn Lewis, Prof Praveetha Patalay
Title of project: 
Disentangling the associations between community engagement, inequalities, and youth anxiety and depression
Proposal summary: 

This project will investigate whether community engagement is a modifiable health behaviour that can prevent and reduce youth anxiety and depression. Although community engagement (e.g., arts, culture, heritage, volunteering, community groups) is associated with reduced anxiety and depression, previous research is limited by not accounting for inequalities in mental health and community engagement, reliance on small studies with short follow-ups, and little evidence specifically in young people.

We will establish whether community engagement can reduce youth anxiety and depression, assess its equality of distribution internationally, and test whether individual- and society-level community engagement interventions can reduce youth anxiety and depression. We will use population-level longitudinal data from the UK, US, Australia, Japan, Egypt, and Norway. We will triangulate evidence from novel statistical methods for causal inference. These approaches have not yet been used in this field but are vital to examine associations independent of inequalities in mental health and community engagement. Cutting-edge cross-country evidence will demonstrate whether community engagement could be a public health intervention that reduces anxiety and depression. This project will facilitate further innovative research, inform population health policy and funding, and support development of large-scale interventions to reduce youth anxiety and depression globally.

Impact of research: 
I believe that my research will have a number of impacts. I will determine whether community engagement can support young people's mental health, beyond existing inequalities. It is timely, providing much-needed insights using robust methods with population-level data. As the first to apply these methods in this field, I hope to significantly advance existing approaches and facilitate further pioneering research. I have identified five target audiences (researchers, young people, policymakers, community organisations, parents/teachers/schools) and coproduced an engagement plan to be co-created with a youth advisory group throughout. For researchers, I will publish 10 high-impact peer-reviewed articles (WP1=six, WP2=four) and two conference presentations, aiming to share findings and promote further robust research. I will disseminate findings in summary reports, blogs, infographics, media content, and podcasts for young people, community organisations, schools, teachers, and parents to increase awareness of community engagement. For policymakers, I will produce reports and present to the WHO, Department for Digital Culture Media & Sport, and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts Health and Wellbeing (all of whom I already have contact with). I will consult community organisations on research and engagement directions and run webinars on applying research with the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Social Prescribing Youth Network.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 19 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Community assets Leisure activities Arts engagement Cultural engagement Volunteering

B4602 - Data note on diet in pregnancy in a UK longitudinal birth cohort The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children ALSPAC - 29/04/2024

B number: 
B4602
Principal applicant name: 
Caroline Mary Taylor | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Prof Kate Northstone, Dr Pauline Emmett, Dr Genevieve Buckland, Louise Jones, Professor Jean Golding
Title of project: 
Data note on diet in pregnancy in a UK longitudinal birth cohort: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)
Proposal summary: 

Information on diet in ALSPAC has been collected regularly in parents and children, starting with the the mother's diet in pregnancy using a postal questionnaire. This information has been used many times to look at how the mother's diet affects the health and development of her child, as well as her own health. This information has been made available to many researchers, but we'd like to write a summary for researchers detailing exactly what is available, how we have processed the information in various ways to make it useful for different types of research studies, and how to access it.

Impact of research: 
Documentation of methods used for derivation of diet-related data will be of use to researchers using the data; publicise availability of data
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Statistical methods, Pregnancy Diet Nutrition

B4600 - Prenatal alcohol exposure PAE and the development of multiple risk behaviours at adolescence an ALSPAC birth cohort study - 29/04/2024

B number: 
B4600
Principal applicant name: 
James Parsonage | NIHR School for Public Health Research, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr. Cheryl McQuire, Dr. Laura Tinner, Dr. David Troy, Caroline Taylor
Title of project: 
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and the development of multiple risk behaviours at adolescence: an ALSPAC birth cohort study
Proposal summary: 

Pre-natal alcohol exposure (PAE) can lead to the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Individuals with FASD have a range of neurodevelopmental impairments including learning difficulties, social impairment and difficulties in regulating behaviours. This study aims to understand how different levels and types of maternal alcohol consumption impact the development of multiple risk behaviours at adolescence. Multiple risk behaviours (MRBs) are typically harmful behaviours such as alcohol consumption that tend to accumulate in adolescence and may have lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of the individual. This project is a continuation of a Public Health Masters study (B3903), to apply statistical methods to evaluate and address the impact of missing data.

Impact of research: 
Research looking at outcomes of adolescents exposed pre-natally to alcohol is limited. This research hopes to understand the effects of PAE longer term and is the first to look at MRBs as a cumulative measure, and a wider range of risk behaviours. Findings from this research will contribute to the development of maternal interventions focused on prevention and also quantify the risk of PAE to harmful behaviour development in adolescence
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 24 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Maternal alcohol use, Statistical methods, Development

B4601 - Interrogating the age-dependent genetic architecture of childhood BMI using a novel longitudinal GWAS framework - 08/05/2024

B number: 
B4601
Principal applicant name: 
Hélène Ruffieux | MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge
Co-applicants: 
Dr Daniel Temko
Title of project: 
Interrogating the age-dependent genetic architecture of childhood BMI using a novel longitudinal GWAS framework
Proposal summary: 

Understanding how the influence of genes on BMI changes over the course of childhood holds important implications for understanding why BMI differs between children of different ages, and, ultimately, for understanding the biological basis of some adult diseases. We have recently developed an approach for interrogating longitudinal data along with genetic data to glean insights into genetic effects on health trajectories. In this project, we seek to understand whether the approach we have developed can help to clarify the age-varying effects of genes on BMI in childhood.

Impact of research: 
The likely impact of the research will be to provide information on the performance of our longitudinal GWAS approach on an application of broad biomedical interest. The research also has the potential to identify novel loci linked to childhood BMI trajectories and to inform understanding of the effects of loci that have already been identified.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 26 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 29 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), Diabetes, Obesity, GWAS, Statistical methods, BMI, Cardiovascular, Development, Genetics, Genomics, Genome wide association study, Growth, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Statistical methods

B4595 - The role of rare genetic variants in dyslexia - 23/04/2024

B number: 
B4595
Principal applicant name: 
Silvia Paracchini | University of St Andrews (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
The role of rare genetic variants in dyslexia
Proposal summary: 

It's estimated that approximately one in ten children struggle with learning to read, a condition known as dyslexia. Dyslexia can have lasting effects on many aspects of life, including academic achievement, job opportunities, self-esteem, social interactions, and overall life satisfaction. These challenges are particularly significant when dyslexia goes undiagnosed, depriving individuals of much-needed support. Undetected dyslexia also contributes to societal costs, such as employment difficulties and mental health issues. Despite these challenges, individuals with dyslexia often possess unique problem-solving skills, yet barriers can limit their contributions to innovation and creativity.

Genetics is the primary known cause of dyslexia. Recently, collaborative research efforts have identified dozens of common genetic risk factors associated with dyslexia for the first time. This discovery underscores the complex nature of dyslexia and parallels findings in other neurodevelopmental disorders. Genetic research for other conditions such as autism, has progressed more rapidly thanks to the availability of large samples. This work has highlighted a crucial role for very rare genetic mutations. We anticipate that such rare variants also play a role in dyslexia. Detecting these rare variants requires genome sequencing technology in large samples.

We're embarking on the largest sequencing project ever conducted for dyslexia, utilizing a unique collection of samples amassed over decades and characterized with high-quality data by multiple research teams with a proven collaborative track record. Our cohort is enriched for severe cases and includes families with multiple affected members.

Our research will deepen our understanding of the genetic risk factors for dyslexia and illuminate the biological pathways involved in dyslexia and brain development. By comparing data with other conditions, we aim to identify genes specifically associated with dyslexia. In the long term, our findings may contribute to the development of early diagnostic strategies. We will share our results with the broader research community, creating a valuable resource for future dyslexia studies and related conditions, such as language disorders, dyscalculia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Our project offers a unique opportunity to engage with the public and discuss the neurobiological determinants of dyslexia. The Specific Learning Difficulties Network, an initiative we launched in 2022, will provide a platform to engage with different stakeholders, including individuals with lived experiences of dyslexia, teachers, clinicians, and policymakers. Our findings will provide evidence to explain the role of genetics, reduce stigma around dyslexia, and increase awareness.

Impact of research: 
Demonstrating that individual mutations might lead to dyslexia will be a significant advance in helping us to understand the neurobiology of or reading and cognitive abilities
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Cognitive impairment, Learning difficulty, DNA sequencing, Cognition - cognitive function, Communication (including non-verbal), Development, Genetic epidemiology, Genetics, Handedness, Intelligence - memory, Psychology - personality, Sex differences, Speech and language

B4597 - Maternal perinatal depressive symptoms and offspring hypomanic symptoms at 22 years a prospective UK birth cohort study - 29/04/2024

B number: 
B4597
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Lewis | University College London
Co-applicants: 
Dr Ramya Srinivasan, Prof Glyn Lewis, Phoebe Duffett
Title of project: 
Maternal perinatal depressive symptoms and offspring hypomanic symptoms at 22 years – a prospective UK birth cohort study
Proposal summary: 

Hypomania is a state of unusually energetic, high or irritable mood which lasts at least 4 days in a row. Hypomania can accompany depressive episodes as part of the course of bipolar disorder. There is evidence that suggests that maternal depression in pregnancy and the postnatal period is associated with various mental health outcomes in their children, including depression and psychotic symptoms as teenagers. However, little is known about how maternal depression in pregnancy and the postnatal period may relate to hypomania. This project will investigate whether maternal depression in pregnancy and the postnatal period is linked to their children’s hypomania when they are young adults.

Impact of research: 
This study will add to the growing body of literature which shows that perinatal experiences can have long-term influences on offspring mental health into adolescence and young adulthood. Understanding the potential effects of perinatal experiences on longer term offspring mental health is important in terms of population health, prevention and early intervention.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 18 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 23 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics

B4594 - Understanding causality and complexity in the cannabis/mental health relationship - 22/04/2024

B number: 
B4594
Principal applicant name: 
Lindsey Hines | University of Bath (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Understanding causality and complexity in the cannabis/mental health relationship
Proposal summary: 

The prevalence of affective disorders has been increasing in UK adolescents, along with an increase in treatment-seeking for psychological distress . Anxiety and depression are the largest contributors to the mental health global burden of disease, and there are also indications that incidence of psychosis, a serious mental illness, may be increasing in some areas. Adolescent cannabis use is consistently associated with anxiety and psychosis, with less consistent associations for depression. Cannabis use is highly prevalent in adolescent populations and is commonly identified as a target for intervention to reduce likelihood of mental health disorder onset.
However, we do not yet have good evidence that cannabis causes mental health disorders. If the relationship between cannabis use and mental health outcomes is not causal then intervention on adolescent cannabis use will have no impact on mental health. Complexity is introduced by cannabis use and mental health disorders sharing overlapping genetic and environmental risk factors which may cause them to correlate without a causal relationship, or which may change the relationship between cannabis use and mental health outcomes in individuals with these risk factors.
The overall aim of the fellowship is to improve the evidence base on the relationship between adolescent cannabis use and mental health (anxiety, depression and psychosis). We will be comparing results on the relationship between cannabis use and mental health across different cultures to see if this relationship is consistent, and will be using lngitudinal data to undestand how individual and environmental differences impact on the relationship between cannabis use and mental health.

Impact of research: 
Improve the evidence on the direction of the relationship between cannabis use and mental health disorders, which is important for policy and for intervention development.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 15 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 22 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomisation, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc.

B4593 - The association between academic pressure and depression and self-harm in adolescence - 26/04/2024

B number: 
B4593
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Lewis | University College London
Co-applicants: 
Dr Marie Mueller, Prof Glyn Lewis, Mr Xuchen Guo
Title of project: 
The association between academic pressure and depression and self-harm in adolescence
Proposal summary: 

Academic Pressure can be defined as fear of failure, concerns about the future, stress about workload and exams, worries about parental expectations, and competition with peers for grades. The UK has some of the highest levels of academic pressure in secondary schools, and this has risen in recent decades. Despite widespread concerns about academic pressure in the UK, it has rarely been investigated in relation to adolescent mental health. This project will investigate whether academic pressure is a modifiable causal risk factor for adolescent depression, self-harm and suicide. If so, academic pressure could be targeted in universal interventions in schools, to prevent adolescent depression, self-harm and suicide.

Impact of research: 
My work with young people and teachers suggests that academic pressure is influenced by individuals, schools, families, policy, and society. Our research could therefore inform prevention at each of these levels. I am particularly interested in the possibility of whole-school interventions.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 15 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 22 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, Cohort studies - attrition, bias, participant engagement, ethics

B4590 - Examining Environmental and Genomic Contributions to Adolescent Risky Behaviors - 17/04/2024

B number: 
B4590
Principal applicant name: 
Gabriel Schlomer | University at Albany, SUNY
Co-applicants: 
Title of project: 
Examining Environmental and Genomic Contributions to Adolescent Risky Behaviors
Proposal summary: 

The purpose of this project is to expand the scope of a previous project (B3077) to include a broader range of environmental influences and outcomes pertinent to adolescent development. In this project, environmental influences, particularly during early development, will be examined as predictors of adolescent risk behaviors, such as risky sex, aggressive behavior problems, and delinquency. Genetic and epigenetic contributions will be examined as potential explanations for these associations and/or as controls.

Impact of research: 
Expanding the scope of B3077 will allow for greater insights on the environmental and genomic etiology of a broader range of adolescent risk behaviors and their antecedents.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Mental health, Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Development, Epigenetics, Fathers, Genetics, Growth, Parenting, Puberty, Social science

B4580 - Maternal depression during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment and mental health outcomes - 17/04/2024

B number: 
B4580
Principal applicant name: 
Hanan El Marroun | Erasmus MC (Netherlands)
Co-applicants: 
Miss Jana Hermans, Dr. Charlotte Cecil
Title of project: 
Maternal depression during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment and mental health outcomes.
Proposal summary: 

Prenatal depression presents a burden and potential risks for the expecting women (Chung et al., 2001; Kim et al. 2013) and may have long-term consequences for the child regarding their cognitive, behavioural, and emotional development (Madigan et al., 2018; Rogers et al., 2020). However, there is a lack of large-scale studies investigating the relationship between prenatal maternal depression and child behavioural and emotional development that control for a common set of relevant potential confounding variables. In this project, we aim to study the effects of prenatal maternal depression on children’s long-term behavioural development and mental health, leveraging large-scale, multi-cohort data in the EU Child Cohort Network. As a secondary objective, we plan to disentangle the effects of pre-pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal depression on offspring development. The strength that comes with studying this research question in the LifeCycle cohort is the large amount of harmonised, multi-cohort data available, which allows us to investigate offspring outcomes over time while also controlling for relevant confounding factors. Furthermore, rather than focusing on a single behavioural outcome, our approach will be comprehensive in that it will examine a range of measures including cognition, internalising and externalising behaviour, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This can aid our understanding of symptom profiles for children prenatally exposed to maternal depression.

Impact of research: 
This research will give insight into the prospective associations between exposure to prenatal maternal depression and cognitive and child mental health outcomes. This objective will be studied comprehensively by leveraging large-scale, multi-cohort data in the EU Child Cohort Network. Furthermore this project could disentangle the effects of pre-pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal depression on offspring development.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 15 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Developmental disorders - autism, Mental health, Pregnancy - e.g. reproductive health, postnatal depression, birth outcomes, etc., Speech/language problem, Statistical methods, Cognition - cognitive function, Development, Offspring, Speech and language

B4592 - Investigating the relationship between prenatal alcohol exposure and musculoskeletal impairments - 15/04/2024

B number: 
B4592
Principal applicant name: 
Cheryl McQuire | University of Bristol, Centre for Public Health (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Gregory Allister, Dr Michael Daly, Dr Caroline Taylor , Dr Katherine Staines
Title of project: 
Investigating the relationship between prenatal alcohol exposure and musculoskeletal impairments
Proposal summary: 

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) can lead to problems with learning and behaviour, as well as physical abnormalities including distinctive facial features and stunted growth. Existing studies have identified some associations between PAE and a wide variety of other abnormalities including various musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders. Studies on the MSK effects of prenatal alcohol exposure in mice have replicated this finding and found that males were more affected by PAE than females. This has yet to be studied in human participants. Our study seeks to estimate the association between PAE and MSK abnormalities among participants enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), and assess whether these effects differ between males and females.

Impact of research: 
We anticipate that this research will provide the first population-based estimate of the impact of PAE on MSK indicators and outcomes in a human sample.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 15 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Bone disorders - arthritis, osteoporosis, Statistical methods, Bones (and joints)

B4587 - Dietary patterns at 30 difference in generations and sexes - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4587
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Northstone | University of Bristol, UK (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Pauline Emmett, Caroline Taylor
Title of project: 
Dietary patterns at 30: difference in generations and sexes
Proposal summary: 

This project will aim to summarise the dietary patterns of the two generations of ALSPAC. The same food frequency questionnaire was administed to both the parents and their 30 year old offspring. Dietary patterns allow us to look at the diet as a whole rather than individiual foods or nutrients to provide an overall summary of dietary intake. Principal Components Analysis will be used - this method uses the existing correlations between food groups to identify those foods and gfood groups that are commonly consumed in combination.

Impact of research: 
To our knowledge no other study has the same data collected at the same timepoint in two different generations.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 8 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B4589 - Tackling excess energy consumption and obesity ultra processed foods versus foods high in fat salt and/or sugar - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4589
Principal applicant name: 
Kate Northstone | University of Bristol, UK (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Professor Eric Robinson, Genevieve Buckland
Title of project: 
Tackling excess energy consumption and obesity: ultra processed foods versus foods high in fat, salt and/or sugar
Proposal summary: 

It is well known that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic and it's widely accepted that unhealthy eating behaviours are the biggest reason. Recently, the government has focussed on inverventions involving foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS). However, this does not take into account the amount of processing that foods undergo - several recent studies have shown that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are related to weight gain. As part of a wider grant, this proposal is specifically to use ALSPAC data collected from dietary diaries in childhood to examine dietary patterns associated with both HFSS and UPFs in the development of obesity.

Impact of research: 
A better understanding of the contribution of different food types and different dietary patterns to the obesity epidemic.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., BMI, Nutrition - breast feeding, diet

B4582 - To what extent can genetic factors that are associated with empathy explain individual differences in parenting - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4582
Principal applicant name: 
Florina Uzefovsky | ben gurion university of the negev
Co-applicants: 
emily hayun
Title of project: 
To what extent can genetic factors that are associated with empathy explain individual differences in parenting?
Proposal summary: 

Parenting is a broad term collating a host of behaviors and emotional responses to one's children. Sensitive and adaptive parenting is considered to reflect the parent's capacity for empathy, i.e., the ability to understand and share in the emotions of others. Interestingly, individual's differences in both parenting and empathy can be partially explained genetic factors. Yet it is still unknown whether genetic predisposition toward empathy can also explain differences in parenting. This project seeks to answer these questions by calculating individuals' empathy polygenic score, that is a score of their genetic potential for empathy, based on a previous genome wide study (N= 46,861, Warrier et al., 2018), and then to examine whether this score is associated with better parenting as measured by questionnaires within the ALSPAC cohort. This study promises to enhance our comprehension of the genetic dimensions of parenting and their interconnectedness with empathy as a fundamental trait. By unraveling these intricate connections, we can foster a more nuanced understanding of the complexities shaping parenting behaviors at the genetic level.

Impact of research: 
The findings are expected to enhance our understanding of how genetic factors are associated with parenting behaviors, contributing valuable insights into the mechanisms behind effective parenting. The research aims to deepen our comprehension of how genetic factors influence parenting behaviors, shedding light on effective parenting mechanisms. This understanding could lead to tailored interventions and support systems that promote empathetic parent-child relationships. Ultimately, the study aspires to contribute to the broader scientific understanding of the genetic basis of human behavior, particularly in the context of parenting, potentially influencing future research and strategies for promoting positive parenting outcomes.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 2 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), parenting and empathy , GWAS, Parenting

B4584 - Neighbourhood effects and social cognition - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4584
Principal applicant name: 
Dan Major-Smith | University of Bristol
Co-applicants: 
Dr Nikhil Chaudhary
Title of project: 
Neighbourhood effects and social cognition
Proposal summary: 

Examing the factors which shape social cognition (e.g., psychosis-like symptoms and emotional recognition) may help in understanding the precursors for later psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) and potentially aid in identifying at-risk individuals and populations. Aspects of the local neighbourhood - such as crime rates and the state of the built environment - may shape our social cognition and therefore be an important modifiable risk factor for the development of such thoughts and behaviours. For instance, levels of threat in the local environment (e.g., crime and antisocial behaviour) may increase the risk of developing paranoid symptoms, a precursor for schizophrenia.

Impact of research: 
To hopefully provide a better understanding of the social determinants and precursors to sub-clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders, which could help inform policy and identify/help at risk individuals/populations.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 5 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Cognition - cognitive function

B4585 - Cross-sectional and prospective associations between engagement in the arts and mental health issues - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4585
Principal applicant name: 
Naomi Warne | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Helen Bould, Gideon Gyeabour Ansu
Title of project: 
Cross-sectional and prospective associations between engagement in the arts and mental health issues
Proposal summary: 

This project sets out to investigate whether involvement in the arts is associated with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among young people. By analysing data from this large community study tracking the development of young people over time, we aim to explore:
1) Current Relationship: We will look into the connection between participating in the arts and the mental health of young individuals at the same time.
2) Future Impact: We aim to understand if there's a link between participating in the arts at one time and later mental health outcomes of young people. This will help us determine if arts involvement could potentially act as a preventive measure against mental health issues.

By undertaking this careful analysis, we hope to provide high-quality evidence regarding the potential benefits of arts engagement in promoting good mental wellbeing in young people. This research could inform interventions and policies aimed at promoting mental health through creative activities, potentially offering valuable insights into preventive strategies for anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among young individuals.

Impact of research: 
This project will build evidence around the role of arts engagement in young people’s mental health. While this is a rapidly developing research area, there is a dearth of research using good-quality epidemiological methods. By providing a careful examination using ALSPAC, we can improve our understanding of whether engagement in the arts may play a role in protecting against mental health issues. This will help confirm and identify targets for vital new treatments and prevention measures, or highlight that investment in alternative causal mechanisms would be more fruitful.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 5 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Mental health

B4588 - The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the ALSPAC cohort - 12/04/2024

B number: 
B4588
Principal applicant name: 
Becky Mars | Bristol (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
Gamaliel Apeawini, Dr Naomi Warne , Miss Bushra Farooq
Title of project: 
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the ALSPAC cohort
Proposal summary: 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had an immense impact on people’s lives worldwide. This may be particularly true for those with mental health issues. In the UK, presentations to hospitals for self-harm decreased markedly during the early period of the pandemic, before returning to normal levels (Paterson et al., 2023). This reduction was also reported in a systematic review (John, Eyles et al. 2020). However, one study found increased cases of self-harm thoughts in the emergency department, particularly for adolescent females (Sara, Wu et al. 2023). Patterns also differed according to factors such as socioeconomic status and age (Sara, Wu et al. 2023).

Results from a population-based survey suggest that suicidal thoughts and anxiety disorders increased during the pandemic, particularly among young adults, lower socioeconomic groups, and those with a history of mental health conditions (O'Connor, Wetherall et al. 2021). However, a population-wide data linkage study found unchanged patterns among individuals aged over 65 years, people living alone, or residents of affluent areas (Paterson et al., 2023). In another study, factors found to influence hospital presentations for self-harm during COVID-19 in the UK included COVID-19 infection, lockdown restrictions, limited access to psychiatric healthcare services, isolation, and mental health problems (Hawton, Lascelles et al. 2021).

The objective of this project is to identify the factors associated with self-harm thoughts and behaviours among young adults in the ALSPAC cohort during COVID-19. The study will contribute to the existing literature by using ALSPAC pre and post-pandemic data, collected prospectively, to identify different risk factors for self-harm thoughts and behaviours in the population. We will examine ten different risk factors related to self-harm thoughts and behaviours including participants’ demographics, mental health and personality, physical factors, and protective factors.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Mental health, Statistical methods, self harm and suicide

B4586 - Multi-modal indices of connection in mother-infant relationships in UK and South Africa the role of mutual touch and eye gaze - 17/04/2024

B number: 
B4586
Principal applicant name: 
Nicky Wright | Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom)
Co-applicants: 
DEBORAH OKAGBARE, Dr Julia Wolska, Professor Rebecca Pearson
Title of project: 
Multi-modal indices of connection in mother-infant relationships in UK and South Africa, the role of mutual touch and eye gaze.
Proposal summary: 

Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of infant-mother touch and eye gaze, particularly examining; Are there more or lesser amounts of touch behaviour, gaze in UK vs South Africa caregivers, and are there similar or distinct connections between touch, eye gaze and positive emotional expression?
This is a project which is part of a project we already have approved (B4039), but Matt Hardcastle requested we need to submit a new proposal as the data will be used in Deborah's thesis.

Impact of research: 
Information on how to support positive mother-infant interaction.
Date proposal received: 
Saturday, 6 April, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 12 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Parenting

B4530 - Association between Visceral Adiposity Index and risk of hypertension among adolescents - 10/04/2024

B number: 
B4530
Principal applicant name: 
Chen yanmei | Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China.
Co-applicants: 
Zhou Jiajun MD, He Fengling MD, Xu wenlong MD, Tang Yating MD
Title of project: 
Association between Visceral Adiposity Index and risk of hypertension among adolescents.
Proposal summary: 

This project aims to explore the association between Visceral adipose index (VAI) and hypertension in adolescents in order to make the primary screening and prevention of hypertension among the adolescent population more convenient, thereby reducing the morbidity of hypertension.

Impact of research: 
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 12 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Wednesday, 10 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Epidemiology, Hypertension, Statistical methods, Cardiovascular

B4579 - The dominance dynamic in the family social control prestige attachment style and downstream consequences - 09/04/2024

B number: 
B4579
Principal applicant name: 
Drew Altschul | The University of Edinburgh (UK)
Co-applicants: 
Dr Adam Moore
Title of project: 
The dominance dynamic in the family: social control, prestige, attachment style, and downstream consequences
Proposal summary: 

Attachment insecurity (e.g., attachment avoidance and anxiety) is a fundamental characteristic linked to how people engage with and experience power dynamics inherent in social relationships. Social power motives (e.g. dominance, prestige) also predict various behaviours, preferences for, and experiences of social relationships, many of which overlap those connected to attachment insecurity. However, there is no extant work directly linking attachment insecurity to social power motives.

Yet there is ample evidence to hypothesize a relationship. The power motives are associated with the quality and outcomes of various close relationships, including friendships and romantic partnerships. A stronger general power motive in men is linked to breakups, intimate partner violence, and sexual coercion in romantic relationships. In non-romantic friendships, power motives predicts fewer dyadic interactions, increased frustration and guilt in friendship episodes, and more instrumental, assertive, and self-expansive striving in friendship. Similar outcomes have also been linked to differences in adult attachment orientations, suggesting a possible link between power motives and attachment orientations. On the other hand early-life attachment insecurity is also related to important later life outcome variables, such as antisocial behaviour and mental health. Might this relationship be mediated by individuals’ goals are and the way they behave, which are captured by dimensions of social power?

The aims of this project are to look at several factors in an individual’s upbringing, including attachment style, parental personality, socioeconomic status, and parental dynamics, to see how these factors are linked to dominance and prestige seeking personality traits, as well as life outcome variables.

Impact of research: 
At least two scholarly papers are planned to emerge from this research. All told, this project will lead to a better understanding of dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics, both in terms of how parental dynamics are relevant to the futures of their children, and why prior personal experiences and linked with dysfunctional dynamics. Understanding these dynamics will advance our knowledge on issues like relationship quality and satisfaction, domestic violence and dyadic aggression, and sexual coercion. Understanding these links will help to develop policy in education, organizations, and elsewhere to promote healthy and positive interpersonal relationships and behaviour. Moreover, the links between early-life factors such as attachment insecurity and later life outcomes like mental health are complex and multifaceted, and we are far from achieving a complete understanding of these outcomes. Power dynamics and power seeking traits are a fruitful and underexplored area that may significantly contribute to these important outcomes, and by understanding these factors we may gain considerable understanding of how people develop poor mental health and antisocial dispositions. Power dynamics and associated traits are also linked to socioeconomic status and social class, and by particularly examining the intergenerational transfer of these traits, we will gain a better understanding of the enduring effects of socioeconomic position.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 27 March, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 9 April, 2024
Keywords: 
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Psychology - personality

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