A new study by a team of scholars, headed by DUPRI's Michelle White and Naomi Duke, examines the factors that protect children from developing obesity despite the presence of risk factors. The paper, currently in press at Academic Pediatrics, is titled "Positive Outliers: A Mixed Methods Study of Resiliency to Childhood Obesity in High-Risk Neighborhoods." Despite the high prevalence of obesity and the clustering of risk by neighborhood, few studies have examined characteristics which promote healthy child weight in neighborhoods with high obesity risk. The authors aimed to identify protective factors for children living in neighborhoods with high obesity risk. The authors identified neighborhoods with high obesity risk using geolocated electronic health record data with measured body mass index (BMI) from well child visits (2012-2017). They then recruited caregivers with children aged 5-13 years who lived in census tracts with mean child BMI percentile > 72 (February 2020- August 2021). They used sequential mixed methods (quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews) to compare individual, interpersonal and perceived neighborhood factors among families with children at healthy weight (positive outliers, PO) vs. families with ≥1 child with overweight or obesity (controls). Regression models and comparative qualitative analysis were used to identify protective characteristics.
A recently-published paper by DUPRI scholar Scott Lynch and co-authors Christina Kamis and William Copeland, titled "Associations between Configurations of Childhood Adversity and Adult Mental Health Disorder Outcomes" employs a life-course approach to analyze the influence of adverse childhood events on subsequent adult mental health. The life course perspective and cumulative inequality theory suggest that childhood adversity, occurring during a sensitive period of the life course, can have long-term consequences for adult mental health and well-being. Yet, the long-term influence of adversity on adult outcomes may depend on both the features of adverse childhood experiences (e.g., the number, type, and co-occurrence of adversities) as well as the outcome assessed. Using latent class analysis applied to several waves of prospective data from the Great Smoky Mountains Study (GSMS; N = 1,420), the authors identify subpopulations that are similar in their adversity experiences before age 18. The authors then predict adult internalizing and substance use disorder diagnoses by adversity experience. Results reveal five distinct classes of adversity, with unique risks for specific diagnoses in adulthood.

DUPRI scholars continued to be very productive this year, producing numerous research papers that again demonstrate the vast scope of population science being produced at DUPRI. Below we highlight studies from March 2024 produced by DUPRI scholars.

Every year, scholars and students from DUPRI present research papers, prepare professional posters, and serve as panel discussants at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America. This year's PAA Annual Meeting will take place in Columbus, Ohio from April 17-20. Below is a list of all DUPRI scholars and students participating in PAA sessions.
Living in a poor neighborhood is linked to accelerated brain aging and increased risk for dementia early in life, regardless of income level or education. A Duke-led study suggests that targeting residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods for dementia-prevention programs and encouraging clinicians to consider a patient’s address could help reduce dementia cases.
W. Andrew Rothenberg, Jennifer Lansford, Jennifer Godwin, Kenneth Dodge, and their co-authors recently published an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry examining the effects of the Fast Track intervention on mental health and the need for health services for the children of participants. Fast Track, which started in the early 1990s, blended parent behavior-management training, child social-cognitive skills tutoring, home visits, and classroom support from grades 1 through 10 for children who had early emerging conduct problems. This study found that once the original Fast Track participants grew up and had children of their own, their children used fewer general inpatient services and fewer inpatient or outpatient mental health services.
In a paper recently published in JAMA Network Open, a team of researchers, including DUPRI scholar Nrupen Bhavsar, use electronic health records in Durham, NC to "quantify associations of structural racism indicators with neighborhood prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes, and hypertension."

A new paper out in the journal Demography, co-authored by DUPRI scholar Christopher Wildeman

So far this year, DUPRI scholars and students have published dozens of papers in academic journals that demonstrate both the breadth and depth of research in all areas of population science. Below we highlight many recent studies. The diversity of topics include contraception use, Alzheimer's, generational wealth, social networks and HIV, cognitive aging, COVID-19, and the long-term effects of childhood conduct problems, among others.
Duke psychology professor Terrie Moffitt added a new honor to the many she has received in a career that made her one of the most highly cited researchers in the world. At a ceremony in Windsor Castle in December, King Charles III bestowed upon her the title of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, commonly known as the MBE.