A cohort analysis is an examination of historical events that may have impacted the lives of age mates of a particular group of people, in this case an ethnic group. The racial/ethnic/cultural history is reflected in the values, health beliefs, illness behaviors, self-image, degree of trust, and expectations toward health care providers.
Cohort analyses list significant events that may have been experienced by the persons of interest during the specific developmental age periods of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and older ages. Not only does this model provide a framework for history taking in the clinical setting, but also provides clues to intergenerational differences and perceptions, and clues to mental health issues. The following should be considered in using a cohort study as a starting point for gathering information:
- Effect of age of older adult at the time of event
- Not all American Indian older adults are impacted by all events
- Relevance of social histories in provision of clinical care