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Life-Course Epidemiology and Social Inequalities aims to provide a space to explore, characterise and report on how epidemiological research can prevent disease at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Our intention is to make active and critical contributions to the science and policy discourses to increase the knowledge in the cause of diseases intervention at a population level.
The main goal in epidemiological research is prevention of disease at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. A life course approach in epidemiology investigates the biological, behavioral and social pathways that link physical and social exposures and experiences during gestation, childhood, adolescence and adult life, and across generations, to later life health and social inequalities in health. Social inequalities are often characterized by a social gradient in health or disease outcomes: the less socially disadvantaged you are, the better your health is likely to be. The social gradient in health is the result of both socially distributed exposures and access to care.
In the research community today it is a common understanding that the majority of chronic diseases and cancer are likely to result from the combination of environmental and psychosocial exposures, behavior and genetics, and there is growing evidence that the whole life-course influences the aging process and risk of disease in adults. Chronic conditions develop over time, and time lags between exposure, disease initiation, and clinical recognition suggest that exposures early in life are involved in initiating disease processes prior to clinical manifestations. Many important adult risk factors for chronic diseases, such as smoking, diet, physical activity have their own natural histories, e.g. what people eat or do not eat in adulthood may be sensitive to the dietary habits they established in early life. Environmental exposure is a complex composition of chemical exposure (e.g. to carcinogens), biological agents (viruses, or the "microbiome"), and social relationships. This complex composition of multiple exposures influences health differently in different social groups and contributes to the genesis of social inequalities in health. Indeed social inequalities in health are the results of determinants and exposures, such as chemical, physical exposures, occupational and psychosocial exposures, behavior or access to health care that are socially distributed.
Applying a life course approach in research introduce multiple methodological and analytic challenges concerning study design, data collection, and interpretation of results. To measure the life course exposures at an individual level requires solid data and biospecimens from large cohorts collected at different time-points in an individual's life from conception to death, as well as large computing capacity and innovative biostatistic and bioinformatic tools.
We welcome manuscripts from all fields and specialties of life-course epidemiology and social inequalities. Research articles combining multiple exposures (social, socio-economic, psychological, psychosocial, gender, economic, demographic etc.) and novel approaches to measuring health, such as social-to-biological approaches, will be of particular interest in this section. Work on describing and evaluating public health interventions are also within our scope. We are interested in receiving research at the crossroads of social and biomedical sciences, including innovative research questions and interdisciplinary methods but also "solid" descriptive or replicative studies. We are also interested in comment & debate paper formats to push ideas and methods towards a better grasp of the complex and dynamic interplay between genetic, behavioral and environmental risk factors. In particular we will focus on:
• Studies of social inequalities in health through a life-course epidemiological approach;
• Biological embedding and social inequalities in health;
• Life-course exposures (physio-chemical exposures, behavioral, psychosocial) in the incidence and survival of chronic and non-communicable diseases;
• Social inequalities and access to health care;
• Biological and social determinants of health behaviors;
• Social determinants in epidemiology;
• Evaluation of public health policies and interventions on social inequalities in disease prevention.
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PMCID: all published articles receive a PMCID
Life-Course Epidemiology and Social Inequalities in Health welcomes submissions of the following article types: Brief Research Report, Correction, Data Report, Editorial, General Commentary, Hypothesis and Theory, Methods, Mini Review, Opinion, Original Research, Perspective, Policy and Practice Reviews, Policy Brief, Review and Systematic Review.
All manuscripts must be submitted directly to the section Life-Course Epidemiology and Social Inequalities in Health, where they are peer-reviewed by the Associate and Review Editors of the specialty section.
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