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Multidimensional Pathways to Healthy Aging among Filipino Women

Feinian Chen is working with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on an interdisciplinary study for the National Institute on Aging on health and functional outcomes in women's "transitional years" of middle and later adulthood

Dr. Chen and her collaborators are conducting an interdisciplinary study of biological, social, economic and environmental determinants of trajectories of health and functional outcomes in women in the transitional years from middle to later adulthood under an NICHD grant to UNC Chapel Hill. The goal is to identify early adult risk factors related to increased risk of chronic disease, disability, and cognitive decline and protective factors related to maintenance of heath and a high level of functioning in a cohort of Filipino women. The research team is studying participants in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS). This community-based study of mother-child pairs began in 1983 with the recruitment of 3,327 pregnant women (aged 14-47) from 33 randomly selected urban and rural communities of Metro Cebu, the second largest and fastest growing metropolitan region of the Philippines. Multiple surveys through 2007 provide a wealth of detailed community, household and individual level information. In 2007, women were 38-71 years old; 45% were 50-60 and 10% were >60 years old. The CLHNS is an important cohort for the study of aging in the context of the rapid economic and health transitions characterizing much of the developing world.

Researchers will use longitudinal analysis to maximize the utility of repeated measures of key outcomes and exposures over more than 25 years of women’s adult lives. The study has the unique advantage of having baseline data collected prior to the development of aging-related disease and disability. It includes a very wide range of outcomes related to multiple domains of aging, including: (1) the presence or absence of chronic disease and its risk factors, including body composition; blood pressure; and biomarkers of inflammation, dysregulation of glucose metabolism, and dyslipidemia; (2) physical functioning and disability; (3) cognition; and (4) psychosocial aspects of well-being (e.g. depression, time allocation for leisure and work). Recognizing that healthy aging is influenced by a complex web of factors operating at multiple levels, the team plans to focus analysis of health determinants on the physical and social environment, as well as on individual behavioral factors.