Household chaos may be hazardous to a child’s health
Kindergarten-age children have poorer health if their home life is marked by disorder, noise and a lack of routine and they have a mother who has a chaotic work life, new research suggests. The results show the importance of order and routine in helping preschoolers stay healthy and develop to the best of their potential, said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and assistant professor of Human Sciences at Ohio State.
“Children need to have order in their lives,” Kamp Dush said. “When their life is chaotic and not predictable, it can lead to poorer health.”
Kamp Dush said the study involved mostly low-income families, and the results showed mothers who were more impoverished reported significantly higher levels of chaos. “I don’t think that the findings would be different in a middle-class sample — chaos is bad for children from any background,” she said. “But most middle-class families can avoid the same level of chaos that we saw in the most impoverished families. We’re not talking about the chaos of your kids being overinvolved in activities and the parents having to run them from one place to another. This harmful chaos is much more fundamental.”
The researchers used several measures of household chaos: Crowding (more than one person per room), TV background noise (TV was on more than five hours a day), lack of regular bedtime for the child, and a home rated as noisy, unclean and cluttered by the interviewer. The study also included a measure of the mother’s work chaos, which included stress caused by the work schedule, difficulty dealing with child care problems during working hours, lack of flexibility to handle family needs and a constantly changing work schedule.
Integrated Systems Engineering
How one transportation business survived Hurricane Sandy
In a year-long case study of a major American transportation company, researchers at Ohio State have uncovered the strategies that helped the company maintain safety and meet customer demand during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. One key to the company’s effective response was its setup of a weather event management team, an ad hoc group that set planning priorities as the storm approached the United States, ensuring the protection of personnel and equipment in the hurricane’s path.
More surprisingly, as landfall was imminent, the company’s schedulers were able to provide an especially fast response to changing conditions by bypassing normal communications channels that relied on technology. Instead, they spoke to each other face-to-face or directly on the phone to speed the exchange of information about time-critical issues.
The researchers were already studying the company when Sandy occurred almost exactly a year ago. David Woods, professor of Integrated Systems Engineering at Ohio State, and doctoral students David Deary and Katherine Walker spent time in its command centers and field operations throughout 2012. The company asked that its name be withheld from the study results. “It was an opportunity for us to see resilience in action at an organizational scale,” Woods said. “When this hurricane struck the northeast — an area of the U.S. that’s very sensitive to transportation disruptions — it provided a salient example of how organizations need to be prepared for challenging events in our interconnected world.”