Associate Professor David Waynforth received his training and doctorate in biological anthropology, with fieldwork experience in Belize, Central America. After completing his PhD at the University of New Mexico in the US in 1999, he was a visiting associate professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, in Kyoto, Japan, before taking up a lectureship in psychology at Durham University in the UK. In 2006 he moved to the University of East Anglia Medical School, where he integrated evolutionary approaches to studying behaviour and health into the MBBS degree curriculum. In June 2012 he began his current role as Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Bond University Medical School.
Population health is improved not solely through improved pharmaceutical and surgical approaches: health outcomes are also predicted by many aspects of the way we live our lives. My interest is in how family, community and work environment predict health. I have over 20 years of experience as a multidisciplinary researcher looking at effects of stress and social environment on determinants of health and reproductive decisions. Research on the social determinants of health often ignores biology, yet our biology defines the parameters for how health outcomes can be influenced by social factors. My focus includes considering the underlying physiological and evolved mechanisms linking our experience and social environment to health.
Main research areas:
Family, community and health
In the last few generations wealthy nations have radically altered many aspects of people’s social lives. One of the changes has been the loss of local extended family networks as workers migrate to different locations for employment. Using national longitudinal cohort data, I am currently exploring the importance of extended family contact for health. Some of my past work on family environment and health-related outcomes has been on the role of fathers in child health and development (see https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203101414), and on links between paternal absence and early menarche (see https://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-5138(98)00031-2).
Work and health
While people have always had to cope with environmental change, intergroup conflict, and other threats to our ability to survive, in many modern economies employment security has been eroded such that few people can be assured that they will be able to live at their current level of housing and food security for the foreseeable future. One way to determine the likely future health effects and healthcare needs due to recent changes in employment security is to study health effects in the past few generations using national longitudinal cohort study data. My recent paper which can be accessed here addresses this issue in the 1970 national British birth Cohort (https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoy009).
I was trained as both an ethnographer and in quantitative methods. I carried out anthropological fieldwork in an indigenous Mayan community in Belize. More recently I have become involved in analysis of National cohort study data. My statistical expertise includes multilevel modelling, panel data and survival analysis. I am a member of the Statistical Society of Australia.