Next Generation Study
What is the Next Generation Study?
The purpose of the Next Generation Study is to look at the lifestyles, behaviours, attitudes and health of today's teenagers, and see how it has changed from when our original Study Members were 15 (in 1987-88).
As the offspring of our Study Members turn 15, we are inviting them, and their whanau/caregivers, to participate in an assessment. For the young people, this will mean coming into the research unit for a range of interviews, questionnaires and measurements. The caregivers' assessment will be shorter, and include a questionnaire and a brief interview.
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The Next Generation Study builds on 35 years of data already collected by the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which has followed a cohort of 1,037 children since birth in 1972/73. This study has accumulated an extraordinary amount of information on almost every aspect of the Study members’ lives.
Many of the original Dunedin Study members now have children of their own. The Next Generation Study investigates inter-generational cycles of both beneficial and harmful behaviours and outcomes. In addition, a recent Family Health Study gave information about the parents of the Dunedin Study members, providing a rare opportunity to examine these issues across three generations of New Zealand families. No other study in the world has sufficient background to study these issues to the same depth.
In the Next Generation Study, we will address the following research questions:
- Are children of parents with a history of mental health problems at increased risk for mental health problems themselves? What are the continuities and discontinuities in risk for these problems across generations and what are the co-morbidities between physical and mental health problems?
- Are children at risk of “inheriting” physical health problems from their parents? For example, the risk of obesity is determined by both genetics and the environment (e.g. learned behaviour, such as physical activity or diet). What factors determine the transfer of physical health problems from parents to children?
- What changes in attitudes, lifestyle and health have occurred across two generations of 15-year olds?
How do we do this?
Dunedin Study Members who have 15-year-olds are being invited to participate. If the Study members agree, we contact the young person and invite them to participate in the Next Generation Study along with their primary caregiver.
Once both the primary caregiver and the 15-year-old have agreed to participate, an interview at the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Unit is scheduled for the 15-year-old participant.
The 15-year-old participants are scheduled for a school-length day of approximately five hours of interviews and assessments. Face-to-face assessments are conducted by trained interviewers and consist of:
- Life History Calendar. This calendar provides a way of documenting whanau/family make-up, living arrangements and significant life events throughout the life of the 15 year-old.
- Questionnaires on Self and family perceptions; School and future work aspirations; Activities and pastimes; Eating habits; Self-image; Health and injuries; Ethnicity and perceptions of New Zealand society.
- A computer-based psychiatric assessment (DISC-IV) which has been adapted for young people in New Zealand. The DISC-IV is the world-recognised standard for psychiatric diagnoses.
- A self-administered, computer-based (audio-visual) questionnaire will be used for sexual relationships, alcohol and drug use, gambling and self-harm.
- An assessment of cognitive function.
- Body size measurements: height, weight, body fatness (by body impedance analysis), waist and hip measurements.
- Cardio-respiratory fitness test on a stationary bicycle.
- Measurements of blood pressure using an automatic blood pressure machine.
- Assessment of respiratory health using questionnaires, spirometric lung function and skin-prick tests for common allergens.
- A (painless) dental questionnaire and examination.
- Cheek swab samples for DNA.
The primary caregiver accompanying the 15-year-old to the Unit also completes a Life History Calendar for their child to provide additional information that their child may not be aware of, for example, early life events. They also complete questionnaires about their child’s behaviour, discipline and parental relationships. These interviews take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
Parents who are not primary caregivers also participate, but in a shorter telephone interview.
All information gathered is entirely confidential, and we can't share it with anyone else.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about the Next Generation Study, please contact Judith Sligo, the Next Generation Study Manager, at 03 479 7223.