Relationship between mediation anlaysis and the structured life course approach

Laura Howe, Andrew Smith, Corrie Macdonald-Wallis, Emma Anderson, Bruna Galobardes, Debbie Lawlor, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Rebecca Hardy, Rachel Cooper, Kate Tilling, Abigail Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
338 Downloads (Pure)


Many questions in life course epidemiology involve mediation and/or interaction because of the long latency period between exposures and outcomes. In this paper, we explore how mediation analysis (based on counterfactual theory and implemented using conventional regression approaches) links with a structured approach to selecting life course hypotheses. Using theory and simulated data, we show how the alternative life course hypotheses assessed in the structured life course approach correspond to different combinations of mediation and interaction parameters. For example, an early life critical period model corresponds to a direct effect of the early life exposure, but no indirect effect via the mediator and no interaction between the early life exposure and the mediator. We also compare these methods using an illustrative real-data example using data on parental occupational social class (early life exposure), own adult occupational social class (mediator) and physical capability (outcome).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1294
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • life course
  • methods
  • mediation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Relationship between mediation anlaysis and the structured life course approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this