The Consortium for Families and Health Research (C-FAHR) was formed in Spring 2014, after a core group of interdisciplinary faculty received a competitive grant to develop a 'transformative cluster hire' that builds on the existing strengths of current University of Utah faculty and expands the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration among scholars conducting cutting-edge research related to health and families across the lifespan.
The consortium involves an interdisciplinary group of scholars that seeks to understand how the family system can be utilized to improve the health and health care of individuals across the life span (children, adolescents, adults of all ages). Researchers are developing state-of-the-art models and methods from life-span development to inform how families can facilitate health promoting behaviors and adjust to a variety of chronic illnesses. The Consortium seeks to identify strategies whereby the family system can operate effectively as a vehicle for promoting health and adjusting to chronic illnesses across time and how such strategies may vary across developmental life stages.
Currently, the consortium brings together faculty from 11 departments across 5 colleges, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Utah Population Database. The consortium also connects scholars in the Primary Children's and Families' Research Center in the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine, the Utah Population Database, the College of Health's Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic for individuals with multiple chronic conditions, and the Child and Family Development Center in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies.
Currently consortium members are examining the following research topics:
- Within the Utah Population Database researchers are examining the family risks associated with a range of chronic illnesses (most especially cancer, atrial fibrillation, Crohn's disease, macular degeneration, hypertension, Miller's syndrome, diabetes) and that family members share their risk information with multiple family members, including children.
- Researchers are examining normative family processes that may lead to the development of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease as well as those studying families in the context of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, and chronic pain. Findings have revealed ways that couples and parent-child units support as well as derail management chronic illness behaviors.
- Researchers are examining diversity in family structures that may affect the health of families such as diversity related to income inequality, cultural differences, and same-sex families.
- Researchers study how successful interventions for the promotion of health and management of chronic illnesses (e.g., physical exercise, obesity prevention) can incorporate the powerful influence of the family in sustaining effective health behaviors.