Our research program aims to identify the developmental trajectories of risk and protective factors for a range of adverse mental health and other outcomes in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, using longitudinal population data. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach, which sees collaboration among experts in mental health, criminology, child protection and education to achieve the broad research aims. Our methods provide a unique opportunity to determine developmental risk profiles among the general population, as well as protective factors operating throughout the life-span, for a range of low prevalence mental disorders (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) or other outcomes (such as common mental disorders, criminal behaviour and suicide).
We have several research projects embedded within a longitudinal record linkage study known as the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS). This study comprises a state-wide population cohort of 87,026 children who were assessed with the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) as they started school in 2009 (age 5 years). Using repeated waves of intergenerational record linkage, the study combines cross-sectional assessments of the cohort at key developmental stages (i.e., age 5 years; age 11 years) with administrative records from multiple government departments (Health, Family and Community Services, Education and Justice) for children and their parents. With these comprehensive linked records over the first 25 years of life, we will attempt to identify vulnerability and protective factors for a wide range of health, educational/vocational, social and wellbeing outcomes that are likely to make their appearance in adolescence and early adulthood. The results will be useful to schools, governments, and other organisations to inform policy developments and influence community-based action to maximise resilience and build mental capacity during critical years of development. In future years the NSW-CDS will continue to provide much needed information to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australian children, as they develop into adulthood.
We describe sub-projects within the NSW-CDS according to our funding sources, as follows:
A new study by Prof Rob Herbert and his team is investigating muscle contracture in children with cerebral palsy. Contracture is a stiffening of muscles, even when the muscle is passive. It is not yet known whether contracture is a result of changes in the muscle, changes in the associated tendon, or a combination of both. Around 53 per cent […]