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A Life Course Perspective on Behavior and Health

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Principles and Concepts of Behavioral Medicine

Abstract

The life course is a framework that provides a way to integrate macro-level factors – social, cultural, environmental – with individual-level influences that collectively contribute to health. Life course principles focus on individual choice and decision-making, promote an awareness of larger social and historical contexts, and foster an understanding of the timing of events and the various roles that change in a lifetime. These principles are (1) human development and aging as lifelong processes, (2) human agency, (3) historical time and place, (4) timing, and (5) linked lives. The life course emphasizes the importance of trajectories, as well as transitions and turning points, as core concepts in its framework. Trajectories are sequences or long-term patterns and are formed by linking states and transitions across successive years. Statistical approaches that integrate repeated observations over time and identify different paths of progression are central to characterizing trajectories and far different than using discrete observations at baseline and at one or more subsequent points in time.

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Daaleman, T.P., Preisser, J. (2018). A Life Course Perspective on Behavior and Health. In: Fisher, E., et al. Principles and Concepts of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-93826-4_16

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