Leah Hillari

Thesis Title:

Life-course Pathways in Healthy Ageing and Well-being


Early life socioeconomic and psycho-social adversities (e.g. poverty, low education, mental distress) have been linked to premature ageing and increased disease risk in later life. Despite existing evidence linking early life adversities to poor health outcomes, the precise pathways through which they exert their effects remain poorly understood.

In this project, we seek to unravel how interpersonal, biological, psychological, and behavioral pathways interact with broader contextual factors to shape health and ageing over the life-course. This project is grounded in a social science conceptual framework and focuses on understanding healthy aging from a bio-psycho-social perspective.

We measure health as a dynamic system and capture fluctuation over time from prenatal period until middle age. Ageing trajectories are assessed across several years using a composite score based on criteria related to disease, disability, physical functioning, mental health, cognitive ability, social involvement, and productive engagement. A novel Bayesian analytical approach serves as powerful analytical tool, allowing us to integrate vast numbers of dynamic, time- dependent variables to distil longitudinal pathways.

We hypothesise that socioeconomic and psychosocial adversity not only serves as risk factors for metabolic dysfunction but also manifest as consequences thereof, perpetuating a vicious cycle of ill-health that impedes well-being, quality of life, and healthy ageing.

Through our research, we aim to identify opportune moments and effective strategies to disrupt this cycle, thereby informing time-sensitive interventions that optimise population health and mitigate health inequalities during aging. Collaborating with BetaTechnology Ltd, we maximise the societal benefit of the project by translating findings into actionable policies, practices, and interventions aimed at improving population health.

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