Emerging evidence supports the theoretical and clinical importance of the preconception period in influencing pregnancy outcomes and child health. Collectively, this evidence affirms the need for a novel, integrative theoretical framework to design future investigations, integrate new findings, and identify promising, evidence-informed interventions to improve intergenerational health and reduce disparities. This article presents a transdisciplinary framework developed by the NIH Community Child Health Network (CCHN) through community-based participatory research processes. CCHN developed a Preconception Stress and Resiliency Pathways (PSRP) model by building local and multi-site community-academic participatory partnerships that established guidelines for research planning and decision-making; reviewed relevant findings diverse disciplinary and community perspectives; and identified the major themes of stress and resilience within the context of families and communities. The PSRP model focuses on inter-relating the multiple, complex, and dynamic biosocial influences theoretically linked to family health disparities. The PSRP model borrowed from and then added original constructs relating to developmental origins of lifelong health, epigenetics, and neighborhood and community influences on pregnancy outcome and family functioning (cf. MCHJ 2014). Novel elements include centrality of the preconception/inter-conception period, role of fathers and the parental relationship, maternal allostatic load (a composite biomarker index of cumulative wear-and-tear of stress), resilience resources of parents, and local neighborhood and community level influences (e.g., employment, housing, education, health care, and stability of basic necessities). CCHN’s integrative framework embraces new ways of thinking about how to improve outcomes for future generations, by starting before conception, by including all family members, and by engaging the community vigorously at multiple levels to promote resiliency, reduce chronic and acute stressors, and expand individualized health care that integrates promotive and prevention strategies. If widely adopted, the PSRP model may help realize the goal of sustaining engagement of communities, health and social services providers, and scientists to overcome the siloes, inefficiencies, and lack of innovation in efforts to reduce family health disparities. Model limitations include tremendous breadth and difficulty measuring all elements with precision and sensitivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health