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Table 1 Life course study designs: hypotheses tested and typical study questions posed

From: Evaluating the evidence for models of life course socioeconomic factors and cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review

Life course study design Typical chronological analysis set-up used in study design Typical study question
Early SES → Outcome Early-life SES variable(s) used to predict CVD (e.g., CHD, stroke). Adjusted for later-life events, behaviors, risk factor levels to determine "direct" effect of early life SES. Is there a significant independent effect of early-life (childhood) SES on the adult risk of CVD after adjusting for later-life SES and risk factors?
Early SES → Risk Factor Early-life SES variable(s) used to predict adult CVD risk factors levels. How does early-life SES affect later-life levels of behavioral and physiological CVD risk factors?
Social Trajectory Inter- or intragenerational movement from one SES level to another (i.e., Low SES to High SES) used to predict adult CVD risk factors levels or CVD outcomes. How does social mobility from one point to another during the life course affect the risk of CVD?
Cumulative SES A summary variable indicating number of negative SES events/environments over the life course used to predict adult CVD risk factors levels or CVD outcomes. How does the accumulated number of negative SES-related exposures across the life course influence the risk of CVD?
  1. CHD = Coronary heart disease.