Improving the health and education of children

15 June 2010

The health and education outcomes of children in BC are influenced by different factors, but no one knows to what extent or how different combinations of factors play a part. Research conducted by MSFHR Trainee Dr. Martin Guhn will help to answer many questions about the factors that affect development of children in BC.

Dr. Guhn will use a unique BC population database that contains data on health and education outcomes for 40,000 children, and data on socio_economic and demographic characteristics for all of the 478 neighbourhoods in BC. The database was created by MSFHR-funded Platform Population Data BC in partnership with the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC. It will enable detailed analysis of how social, cultural, demographic, and socio-economic factors are jointly related to health and education outcomes of children in BC.

“The database contains information on children's health outcomes from birth to adolescence, as well as developmental information and academic skills,” says Dr. Guhn, a post doctoral fellow at UBC.  “It also includes information on gender, first language/ethno-cultural background, and place of residence. The individual_level data are linked to neighbourhood-level demographic information.”

“This information will help us look at whether different subpopulations of children have different health and education trajectories,” says Dr. Guhn. “But we also want to know if development strengths and needs are highly context-specific or culture specific.”

Ultimately, the research will help health and education practitioners and policy makers to incorporate cultural and contextual considerations into their practices and policy decisions.

Dr. Guhn’s project has grown out of his doctoral work, where he looked at how the education outcomes of children in BC are related to gender, first language/ethno-cultural background, and socio-economic context.

“Working with HELP’s Child and Youth Developmental Trajectories Unit at UBC, my current project will advance the previous analyses due to the unique population-level linked database in BC.” says Dr. Guhn

“I have a strong interest in education, the development of children, and how the different domains of development are tied together,” says Dr. Guhn who, in future, is interested in working with educators to see his research applied.  “After we have the answers to these research questions, we need to start thinking about how to implement the results.”