Principal Investigators: Ronald Simons (UGA), Steven Beach (UGA), Frederick Gibbons (University of Connecticut)
Funding Agencies: NHLBI, NiCHD, NIDA, NIA, NCI
Project Period: 1996-2023
The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) is a multi-site, longitudinal investigation of the effect of family processes, neighborhood characteristics, and other contextual factors on African American parents and their children. The study was initiated in 1996 with over 800 families, all of which contained a 5th grader. Data has been collected from the study participants every 2-3 years and is ongoing. The children are now adults in their early 30s and most of the parents are late middle-aged. Study variables were measured using observational, survey, and GIS data. Over 200 papers have been published using the FACHS data. These articles cover a wide range of topics including parenting practices, romantic relationships, school success, discrimination, racial socialization, peer affiliations, higher education, occupational achievement, religiosity, substance use, coping resources and mental health.
In recent years, FACHS data collection has expanded to include blood draws to assess cardiometabolic processes, gene expression, and epigenetic aging. Using this data, FACHS investigators have been able to calculate the extent to which an individual is biologically older or younger than their chronological age. Importantly, accelerated biological aging is a major contributor to early onset of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and other diseases of old age. While conventional medicine emphasizes diet, exercise, and smoking as the primary explanations for speed of aging, FACHS investigators have documented the way that social conditions and experiences also exert a major effect.
Funding for the FACHS project has been provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Aging.
We are currently seeking approval to establish a data repository that would allow increased access for secondary analyses. Once we have an IRB approved plan, scientists will be able to submit a request proposal, indicating the variables that they would like to use in their analyses, and IRB exemption from their institution approving their use of the anonymized data. Then, after approved by the repository committee, researchers will obtain a password that allow them access the data repository.