MLSFH Projects


Adversity, Aging and ADRD Risk

Funded via NIA R01 AG079527, this project supplements a quarter-century of social and contextual data in the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health with additional longitudinal measures of cognition and genomic and epigenomic data to investigate critical factors contributing to accelerated aging in an low-income population with extensive lifecourse adversities, and analyze the relationship between epigenetic biomarkers and cognitive function to evaluate the biosocial determinants of ADRD risk.

Project Newsletter // Project Infos & Key Findings

Surviving an Epidemic

Funded via NICHD R01 HD087391, this project investigates the determinants of surviving the AIDS epidemic by extending the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health until 2022, and addressing questions such as: what predicted survival, and factors influencing resilience and well-being among the cohort of individuals (and their families) who survived the AIDS epidemic and are now reaching middle to old age in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Project Newsletter // Project Infos & Key Findings

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adolescent HIV Risk

Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are potentially important social determinants of adolescent HIV risk. Funded via NICHD R01 HD090988, this project project expanded the MLSFH to investigate the consequences, mediators, and moderators of childhood adversity on adolescent HIV risk, with the aim to explain why  some adolescents engage in high risk behaviors and contract HIV, while others do not. 

Project Newsletter // Project Infos & Key Findings

MLSFH Mature Adults Cohort

Mature adults (= individuals aged 45+ years old) constitute a demographically, economically and socially important subset of societies in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Yet, very little is known about the health and socioeconomic contexts of older individuals in SSA LICs.  To fill this niche, the MLSFH initiated a Mature Adults Cohort in 2012. Its contribution to global aging studies is important as patterns of aging and disease trajectories, as well as the appropriate policy and health-systems responses, are distinctly different in SSA LICs from those that have been extensively studied in higher income populations. Analyses of this cohort can also help inform social policies and health sector strategies that are required for the growing population of older adults in African countries.

Cohort Profile // Project Infos & Key Findings

Consequences of High Morbidity and Mortality (2007-14)

With funding through NICHD R01 RHD053781, this project created the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH) as the successor of the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP) with the goal to provide a rare record of more than a decade of demographic, socioeconomic and health conditions in one of the world's poorest countries, and study the mechanisms through which poor rural individuals, families, households, and communities cope with the impacts of high morbidity and mortality.

Cohort Profile // Project Infos & Key Findings

Migration and Health (2012-14)

Funded by NICHD R21 HD071471, this project focused on a key challenge in migration research: although it has long been established that migration and health are closely linked, identifying the effect of migration on various health outcomes is complicated by methodological challenges. This study used a longitudinal panel premigration and postmigration study design (with a non-migrant comparison group) to measure and/or control for important characteristics that affect both migration and health outcomes.

Cohort Profile

Likoma Network Study (2005-08)

Building on related MLSFH research, this project investigated the sexual networks connecting the inhabitants of Likoma, a small island of Lake Malawi with high HIV prevalence. Whereas previous studies of sexual networks and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan countries focused solely on the personal networks of a small number of respondents, the LNS attempts to document the sexual networks of the entire adult population of Likoma. Using these data, quasi-complete ‘maps’ of the sexual networks connecting inhabitants of the island could be constructed.

Cohort Profile

AIDS/HIV Risk, Marriage and Sexual Relations (2003-07)

With funding through NICHD R01 HD044228, this project continued the MLSFH predecessor, the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP), by collecting data on HIV/AIDS, social interactions and prevention strategies in rural Malawi. The project analyzed the adaptation in relationship patterns in response to variation in risk environment over time and regions, and investigated joint household decisions on AIDS relevant behaviors such as condom use.

Incentives, Information and Sexual Relations (2005-07)

With funding through NICHD R21 HD050652, this project collected innovative data on expectations, randomized incentive payments and sexual behaviors, and analyze the response of sexual relations, household dynamics, and information-seeking to randomized direct monetary incentives for participating in voluntary counseling and treatment (VCT) and for maintaining a HIV negative status.

Gender, Conversational Networks and Dealing with STDs (2001-06)

With funding through NICHD R01HD/MH41713, provided the first longitudinal follow-up of the MLSFH study population by collecting quantitative and qualitative data in 2001 and 2004 to investigate the role of informal social networks and gender differences in spreading information about and coping with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).