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      Who cares for women with children? Crossing the bridge between disciplines

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          Abstract

          It has long been acknowledged that women with children require social support to promote their health and wellbeing, as well as that of their children. However, the dominant conceptualizations of support have been heavily influenced by Western family norms. The consequence, at best, has been to stifle our understanding of the nature and consequences of support for mothers and children. At worst, it has led to systematic discrimination negatively impacting maternal–child health. To fully engage with the complexities of social support, we must take multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches spanning diverse cultural and geographical perspectives. However, multidisciplinary knowledge-processing can be challenging, and it is often unclear how different studies from different disciplines relate. To address this, we outline two epistemological frameworks—the scientific approach and Tinbergen's four questions—that can be useful tools in connecting research across disciplines. In this theme issue on ‘Multidisciplinary perspectives on social support and maternal–child health’, we attempt to foster multidisciplinary thinking by presenting work from a diverse range of disciplines, populations and cultures. Our hope is that these tools, along with papers in this issue, help to build a holistic understanding of social support and its consequences for mothers and their children. Overall, a multidisciplinary perspective points to how the responsibility of childrearing should not fall solely onto mothers. Indeed, this multidisciplinary issue demonstrates that successful childrearing is consistently an activity shared beyond the mother and the nuclear family: an insight that is crucial to harnessing the potential of social support to improve maternal–child health.

          This article is part of the theme issue ‘Multidisciplinary perspectives on social support and maternal–child health’.

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          Most cited references 54

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          On aims and methods of Ethology

           N Tinbergen (1963)
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            Rapid Systematic Review: The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context of COVID-19

            Objective Disease containment of COVID-19 has necessitated widespread social isolation. We aimed to establish what is known about how loneliness and disease containment measures impact on the mental health in children and adolescents. Method For this rapid review, we searched MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO, and Web of Science for articles published between 01/01/1946 and 03/29/2020. 20% of articles were double screened using pre-defined criteria and 20% of data was double extracted for quality assurance. Results 83 articles (80 studies) met inclusion criteria. Of these, 63 studies reported on the impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of previously healthy children and adolescents (n=51,576; mean age 15.3) 61 studies were observational; 18 were longitudinal and 43 cross sectional studies assessing self-reported loneliness in healthy children and adolescents. One of these studies was a retrospective investigation after a pandemic. Two studies evaluated interventions. Studies had a high risk of bias although longitudinal studies were of better methodological quality. Social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time loneliness was measured and between 0.25 to 9 years later. Duration of loneliness was more strongly correlated with mental health symptoms than intensity of loneliness. Conclusion Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and probably anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues. Clinical services should offer preventative support and early intervention where possible and be prepared for an increase in mental health problems.
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              Here is the evidence, now what is the hypothesis? The complementary roles of inductive and hypothesis-driven science in the post-genomic era.

              It is considered in some quarters that hypothesis-driven methods are the only valuable, reliable or significant means of scientific advance. Data-driven or 'inductive' advances in scientific knowledge are then seen as marginal, irrelevant, insecure or wrong-headed, while the development of technology--which is not of itself 'hypothesis-led' (beyond the recognition that such tools might be of value)--must be seen as equally irrelevant to the hypothetico-deductive scientific agenda. We argue here that data- and technology-driven programmes are not alternatives to hypothesis-led studies in scientific knowledge discovery but are complementary and iterative partners with them. Many fields are data-rich but hypothesis-poor. Here, computational methods of data analysis, which may be automated, provide the means of generating novel hypotheses, especially in the post-genomic era. Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                June 21 2021
                May 03 2021
                June 21 2021
                : 376
                : 1827
                Affiliations
                [1 ]UCL Anthropology, University College London, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK
                [2 ]BirthRites Independent Max Planck Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK
                Article
                10.1098/rstb.2020.0019
                © 2021

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