Lifespan Research Group
@ Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies
Middlesex University London
London NW4 4BT
Email: lifespantraining at mdx.ac.uk
Administrative & IT
The Lifespan Research Group, led by Professor Antonia Bifulco, investigates social and psychological factors influencing mental health. It takes a lifespan approach, examining factors from childhood through to older age, in community-based samples ranging in age from 16 to 75. The research group emerged in 1999 from the Socio-medical Research Centre, formerly directed by Professor George Brown. It has been located at 11, Bedford Square from 1984 until 2010, when it moved to Kingston University to become part of Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS). In July 2013 CATS moved to Middlesex University London.
The team is involved in both applied and academic research, and the interface between the two. It seeks to investigate the aetiology of psychological disorders as well as influencing health and social care practice in terms of increasing its evidence-based orientation. One means of bridging the two is in terms of adapting research assessment methods for practice contexts.
The Lifespan Research Group is involved in the Knowledge Exchange agenda and receives funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF4) to develop third stream income through applied research and training activities with statutory and voluntary agencies in health, social care and criminal justice. This has enabled the development of the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies, a joint venture with Professor Julia Davidson at Kingston University. This seeks to strengthen links with public services in order to improve evidence-based practice and influence social policy around issues of abuse and trauma, for both victims and perpetrators.
Lifespan is currently active in undertaking research with practitioners in both health and social care. These activities are funded from 'third stream' sources such as voluntary agencies, local authorities and primary care. They include:
- Evaluations of services for children and adapting research interview methods for social work assessments (St. Christopher’s Fellowship; Surrey Children's Services, Portsmouth Fostering Team).
- Increasing research capacity in primary care (Wandsworth PCT Research Centre and Southwark PCT)
Adapting research interview methods for social work assessments (Child and Family Training).
The team is currently analysing and publishing a large Medical Research Council funded data set examining social factors in the aetiology of depression, anxiety and substance abuse. This comprises family studies examining both intergenerational (mothers and daughters/sons) as well as intra-generational (sibling) pairs in transmission of risk in families. It uses both prospective and retrospective designs to examine life histories in these families.
Active collaborations with clinical psychology and psychiatry research teams in Europe (Paris, Porto, Florence, Belgium, Italy) and Asia (Japan and Korea) are seeking to examine vulnerability for depression cross-culturally and adapting and translating measures in these contexts.
Data collected from 10 years of MRC programme funding with over 500 families in London, is currently in the process of being preserved and archived. Funding is being sought to digitalise the few thousand audio-tapes in the Collection and the many rated schedules collected during the programme. The Collection includes the audio-taped life history interviews for three generations of London families as well as a computerised data set of thousands of quantitative variables measured around psycosocial risks and lifetime clinical disorder.
Interview measures designed by the team to assess psychosocial vulnerability for depression are used extensively in research and increasingly by practitioners. Such measures combine both qualitative and quantitative elements to provide narrative accounts of experience, amenable to statistical analysis.
is available from the Lifespan team in:
Lifespan publications 2001-9
Lifespan funded projects
Lifespan final reports