Designing Retrospective Measures on Childhood for Older African American Adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing body of research addresses the long-term implications of early-life circumstances for adult health and aging by drawing on retrospective reports on childhood. There has been little scholarly discourse on considerations for the design of such questions for members of racial/ethnic minority groups specifically. This article aims to encourage greater attention to this area by presenting insights from the process of designing a childhood history questionnaire within an ongoing study of cognition, health, and aging among older African American adults in greater Newark, New Jersey. The article presents on three overarching themes, including the importance of (a) adopting a resilience orientation with attention to protective factors, (b) being sensitive to concerns about questions on adverse childhood experiences, and (c) orienting to ethnoracially embedded cohort influences. The article concludes by describing the particular importance of cultural humility—with attention to intersectional social positions—among researchers who are engaged in studies on childhood with older adults from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-169
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Aging


  • cohort
  • ethnicity
  • ethnogerontology
  • health
  • life course
  • methodology
  • race


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