UCLan THRIVE Research Centre (Transdisciplinary Health Research for Thriving in the Early Years)

thrive banner

Optimal maternal, infant, and child health is critical to longer term health and wellbeing for individuals, communities, and societies. It is increasingly evident that biological, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, nutritional and social milestones from conception onwards can influence the potential of individuals in the longer term, and even transgenerationaly. The time period from conception to an individual’s second birthday (‘first 1000’ days) is a crucial period of life for laying the foundations for optimal growth and development across the lifespan. Despite a rapid growth in research in this area, almost all the research in this area is focused on pathology. There is very little research that collects data on the salutogenic end of the health continuum. It is not known which events and experiences might trigger social and individual wellbeing, resilience, positive human and environmental flourishing. Little research has examined environmental compared to individual (e.g. genetic) factors and their interaction which promote resilience.

The THRIVE Centre focus

The UCLan THRIVE Research Centre aims to describe and analyse the interaction between factors and mechanisms that influence human survival, flourishing, and transformation in the early years (first 1000 days) of life, and to implement and evaluate resulting solutions. We intend to do this through a programme of research, innovation, and knowledge transfer that is focused on salutogenic factors, in the context of complex systems theory. Our unique contribution is our focus on positive outcomes across the life course, to answer the question, what events in the early years are associated with human flourishing in later life?

Our long term aim is to set up a programme of research that is focused on the molecular, physiological, biopsychosocial, environmental, social and cultural factors and mechanisms that create and shape human wellbeing, from prenatal through early years, childhood, adolescence and, consequently, throughout the life course.

The programme has the following key elements:

  • A focus on maximizing wellbeing and human flourishing
  • Follow up over time, and across generations
  • Methods that include observation and analysis of complex adaptive interactions between factors, systems, and mechanisms
  • Multi- and trans-disciplinary approaches
  • Integration of data at the micro (lab science), meso (application to people, families, society) and macro (policy) levels

Professor Soo Downe

Professor Soo Downe
Co-Leader: ReaCH

Dr. Gill Thomson

Dr. Gill Thomson
Co-Leader: MaiNN

Dr. Victoria Hall Moran

Dr. Victoria Moran
Co-Leader: 
MaiNN

Bogdan Matuszewski

Professor Bogdan Matuszewski
Co-Leader: Building blocks of wellbeing

Katja Vogt

Dr. Katja Vogt
Co-Leader:
Building blocks of wellbeing

Gloria Ayob

Dr. Gloria Ayob
Co-Leader:
Philosophy

Tim Thornton

Professor Tim Thornton
Co-Leader:
Philosophy

Ann Vanner

Ann Vanner
Co-Leader: Place and space

Person outline

Charlotte Smith
Co-Leader: Place and space

Philippa Olive

Philippa Olive
Co-Leader: Positive social relationships

Rebecca Nowland

Rebecca Nowland
Co-Leader: Positive social relationships

PROJECTS

We are currently working on a number of research projects including:

The Babies Born Better project – an online survey available in over 20 languages examining the views and experiences of women who have given birth in the last 5 years. The aim of the Babies Born Better project is to become a major resource for the improvement of maternal and childbirth care around the world. By finding out what works, for whom and in what circumstances, the project data will provide insight into best practice during birth.

ASPIRE-COVID19: Achieving Safe and Personalised maternity care In Response to Epidemics

THRIVE Small Grant Project: Impacts of Parenting Expectations on Health and Well-being
This project aims to examine the impact of expectations that parents’ have about becoming and being a parent and how they impact on parental well-being. The project involves a systematic review of the literature and interviews with parents about the types of expectations that they have about parenting. The aim is that the project will lead to future work that will lead towards a measurement of parenting expectations and establish the well-being impacts of unmet and met expectations about parenthood.

Lara McNally, Lived Experience Researcher 

Completed projects include:

COST Action IS1405 - Building Intrapartum Research Through Health - an interdisciplinary whole system approach to understanding and contextualising physiological labour and birth (BIRTH)

This action brought together over 100 scientists, artists, professionals, activists, political stakeholders and service users from around 30 countries in Europe and beyond, to try to understand the range and limits of normal childbirth physiology in different populations, individuals, and contexts.

COST Action IS0907 - Childbirth Cultures, Concerns, and Consequences: Creating a dynamic EU framework for optimal maternity care


News

World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery

UCLan THRIVE Research Centre theme lead, Dr Karen Whittaker, has been selected following a competitive process, to join the team of technical advisors to the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery at Public Health England’s Chief Nurse Directorate. For more information click here.


In the first year, we will publish State of the Art papers, and begin to collect data that will underpin a future prospective cohort study in this area.

The Centre team are very interested in linking up with local people who want to contribute to our plans into the future. We will also be running a monthly seminar series.

To find out more please contact Centre Co-Directors Professor Soo Downe or Dr Rebecca Nowland.