Current Studies

Notre Dame Study of Health & Well-being

The Notre Dame Study of Health & Well-being (NDHWB), funded by the National Institutes of Health, began in 2005 and is currently in progress. The broad objective of this longitudinal study is to advance understanding of the multiple pathways that lead to successful development across the adult lifespan. The first five years of the project assessed individuals in mid- and later life with a young adult cohort added in year 6. Yearly survey data has been collected from the 3 cohorts and bi-annual daily “data bursts” collected for a 56-day period (e.g., Years 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9). Additional components of the project include in-person interviews on a subsample of individuals in years 2 and 4 (Mid-life and Later life cohorts only) and 2 waves of 10-day bursts of cortisol responses in another subsample of individuals in conjunction with the daily burst data.  

Currently, our capacity to develop age-appropriate interventions is limited by our lack of knowledge of the long-term developmental trajectories that extend from young adulthood into old age. The use of an accelerated longitudinal design will not only shed light on when interventions would be most effective, but also allow for modeling complex interactive pathways across multiple domains of development, thereby providing needed information about the type of possible interventions to support adults at risk for maladaptive outcomes. Our research aims to capture individual developmental trajectories of stress exposure and proliferation across the adult lifespan and to identify resilience resources that protect and offset negative health and wellbeing consequences. Additionally, we aim to describe daily processes associated with stress vulnerability and to assess the factors that contribute to stress resistance and stress recovery.

Glucocorticoid Sensitivity and Well-being in Aging: Bi-directional Relationships

P.I. Michelle Wirth

This project funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) aims to increase our understanding of how life experiences and emotions alter stress physiology over time, and in turn, how stress physiology affects future mental and physical health. The goal of this project is to collect nuanced information about the HPA axis (an important physiological stress system) in the context of the rich longitudinal data set on mood, stress, and health in the Notre Dame Study of Health & Well-Being (NDHWB). This project thus has the potential to yield important insights about the physiological underpinnings of how stress and mood affect health across the lifespan.