Faculty of Arts - Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences

COMPASS seminars

2015 Seminars

Combining qualitative and quantitative results in systematic reviews


Professor Chris Bonell, University College London
3 March 2015

This presentation on combining qualitative and quantitative results for systematic reviews focussed on three reviews carried out on school environment effects on student health. One examined the effectiveness of “Health Promoting Schools” interventions. The second examined multi-level studies of the health effects of the school environment in the absence of specific intervention. The final review examined qualitative research on the mechanisms by which schools might help or hinder health. The combination of these results is discussed, as is the experience in this area more broadly at the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre at the Institute of Education.

Chris Bonell is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University College London. He has held similar appointments at Oxford and the London School of Hygiene. He is the author of 85 scientific publications and author/editor of three books. He has had substantial research grants as a Principal Investigator. He is a member of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and previously sat on the London Health Commission.

Find out more about Professor Chris Bonell


Education and labour force participation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada


Dr Martin Spielauer, Statistics Canada
26 February 2015

In this public lecture Dr Martin Spielauer, a Senior Researcher at Statistics Canada, presents a study that aims at quantifying the impact of educational attainments on the future labour force participation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Using Statistics Canada’s Demosim population projection model, he has been able to simulate alternative scenarios of educational change and resulting effects on the future labour force until 2056.

Demosim is a microsimulation model designed for detailed population projections going beyond the typical age - sex classification of classic population projections by including characteristics like visible minority group, place of birth, generation status, Aboriginal identity, highest level of educational attainment, and labour force participation, among others.

The study reveals that half of the observed difference in labour force participation rates between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian-born population belonging neither to an Aboriginal nor to a visible minority group can be attributed to educational differences. While the impact of educational improvements on the future labour force is significant, the change is found to be a slow and gradual process, as successive young school-age cohorts have yet to enter the labour market and renew the workforce.

This study can serve as illustration for the use of microsimulation for answering what-if questions. Besides this specific application, the talk also gives a general introduction into demographic microsimulation.

Martin is an expert in demographic and socio-economic microsimulation modelling, and has developed or contributed to models in a wide range of subject matter fields including demography, education, saving and wealth, pension systems, poverty, and health.  He has been engaged in microsimulation projects around the world, including Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, France, India, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and the USA.  He has also provided training and has been teaching microsimulation modeling and programming at the European Doctoral School for Demography in Germany, France, Sweden, Spain and Poland.

2014 seminars

Social network analysis and public health: Unravelling selection, influence and environment in adolescent substance use networks.

James Greenwell, PhD candidate (Population Health)
27 November 2014

The aim of this research was to gain insights into adolescent tobacco and alcohol use through social network models. Preliminary network analysis for adolescent smoking indicates that social selection processes play a stronger role than influence processes corrected for one another as well as environmental factors. The opposite was found to be the case for adolescent drinking. A contagion model also suggests that network actors were susceptible to the contagion (having a negative perception of substance use) based on exposure, gender and popularity attributes.

Identifying causal pathways in longitudinal analysis using structural equation modelling

Professor Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Chair in Lifecourse Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Imperial College London.
3 March 2014

Over the last few years there has been increasing interest in conceptualizing disease aetiology within a life-course framework. Within epidemiology this reflects the challenging theoretical framework. We can defined a life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology as the study of long-term effects on chronic disease risk of physical and social exposures during gestation, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and later adult life. It includes studies of the biological, behavioural and psychosocial pathways that operate across an individual's life course, as well as across generations, to influence the development of chronic diseases.

Conventionally, chronic disease cohort studies recruit subjects in mid-life and follow them up for future disease end-points. The risk of developing disease is then related to baseline exposures or changes in exposure measures ascertained at further follow-ups. Even when baseline measures include early life exposures, such as birthweight and childhood socioeconomic position, these would usually be entered into a multivariable model without much attention to the temporal relationship between variables. The collection of exposure data across the life course is not synonymous with a life course model of disease causation.


The presentation will summarise the following issues:

  • Principles and importance of lifecourse epidemiology
  • Conceptual models in lifecourse epidemiology, introduction into model building with reference to “conventional” multivariate model building
  • Analytical strategy, modelling and interpretation of life-course data using structural equation modelling  (SEM)

Professor Jarvelin is Chair in Public Health and Lifecourse Epidemiology at Imperial College London with additional part-time professorships at the National Institute of Health and Welfare and at the University of Oulu, in Finland.  Professor Jarvelin has been running large-scale population based studies for over 25 years, investigating the genetic and early life environmental origins of multi-factorial diseases/disorders in close collaboration with many internationally well-known institutions, groups and networks. She is a director of the widely acknowledged Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC) Research Program, which includes around 20,000 subjects, born in 1966 and 1986.  In 2006 she received an award of excellence in genetic epidemiology at Imperial College London and in 2012 she was honoured in Finland with the title Epidemiologist of the Year.