Food and Behaviour Research

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Dr Alex Richardson

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Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, University of Oxford; and Founder Director of FAB Research

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Research Interests:

Alex Richardson is best known for her research into how nutrition (and particularly fatty acids) can affect behaviour, learning and mood, although her work also involves several large-scale collaborative programmes that include studies of epidemiology, genetics, brain imaging, biochemistry and nutrition as well as physiological and psychological functioning.

Her primary research interests include:

  • the role of nutrition in brain development and function, and its implications for behaviour, learning and mood.
  • the biology of individual differences in personality, perception and cognition, particularly in relation to developmental and psychiatric disorders.

Her current research centres on the role of fatty acids in relation to both normal individual differences and developmental and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism, depression and schizophrenia. Recent and ongoing work includes controlled treatment trials to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in relation to features of these conditions, experimental studies of possible underlying mechanisms, and collaborative investigations of the epidemiology and genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Alex’s research has always been aimed at developing new methods of identification and management that will have real practical benefit. She therefore works closely with a range of education and health practitioners as well as local and national support groups and charities. In addition to her role as a founder director of FAB Research, she also helped to found the Dyslexia Research Trust, was a co-opted Trustee and Scientific Advisor to the Dyspraxia Foundation, serves on the Biomedical Research Committee of Autism Unravelled and the Autism Treatment Trust, and liaises closely with the Hyperactive Children's Support Group among others.

Alex is a regular speaker at national and international research meetings and has more than 80 research publications in peer-reviewed journals and academic books. She originally trained as a teacher, and her excellent communication skills and clear presentation style are such that she is frequently invited to give lectures and talks to health and education professionals, support groups, charities and other organisations. Her work has received substantial media coverage in recent years, and she has given numerous interviews for the press, radio and TV both in the UK and abroad.

Alex is also the author of They Are What You Feed Them - a widely-acclaimed book written for parents and professionals that explains how and why children's diets can affect their behaviour, learning and mood, and offers easy-to-follow practical advice based on the latest scientific evidence. All author proceeds from this book are dedicated to the FAB Research charity.

Recent Publications:

Richardson, A. Omega-3 and sleep: New insights from the DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) study. Lipid Tech, 2015, 27(5):103-6.

Richardson, A. Omega-3 and children’s brains: New insights from the DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) study. Lipid Tech, 2014, 26(11-12):249-52.

Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study - a randomized controlled trial.  Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ (2014) J Sleep Res. 23(4):364-88, epub Mar 8. Free full text. 

Low Blood Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in UK Children Are Associated with Poor Cognitive Performance and Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Analysis from the DOLAB Study. Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ.  PLoS One. 2013;8(6):e 66697. June 24. Free full text

Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, cognition and behaviour in children aged 7-9 years: A Randomized Controlled Trial (The DOLAB Study). Richardson AJ, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Montgomery P. PLoS One, published online September 6 2012. Free full text is available online.

Review: omega-3 fatty acids produce a small improvement in ADHD symptoms in children compared with placebo. Richardson, AJ. Evid Based Mental Health published online Feb 18th 2012 doi: 10. 1136/ebmental-2011-100523

Investigation of Dyslexia and SLI Risk Variants in Reading- and Language-Impaired Subjects Newbury DF, Paracchini S, Scerri TS, Winchester L, Addis L, Richardson AJ, Walter J, Stein JF, Talcott JB, Monaco AP. (2011) Behav Genet. 2011 Jan;41(1):90-104.  PubMed Abstract

PCSK6 is associated with handedness in individuals with dyslexia. Scerri TS, Brandler WM, Paracchini S, Morris AP, Ring SM, Richardson AJ, Talcott JB, Stein J, Monaco AP. (2011) . Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Feb 1;20(3):608-14. Free Full Text

Identification of candidate genes for dyslexia susceptibility on chromosome 18. Scerri TS, Paracchini S, Morris A, MacPhie IL, Talcott J, Richardson AJ, Stein J, Smith SD, Pennington BF, Olson RK, DeFries JC, Monaco AP (2010)  PLoS One. 2010 Oct 28;5(10):e13712. Free Full Text

Omega-3 for bipolar disorder. Montgomery P, Richardson AJ (2008) . Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2) CD005169. Free Full Text

N-3 fatty acids and mood: the devil is in the detail. Richardson AJ (2007) Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99(2):221-3.  Free Full Text

LRRTM1 on chromosome 2p12 is a maternally suppressed gene that is associated paternally with handedness and schizophrenia. Francks C, Maegawa S, Laurén J, Abrahams BS, Velayos-Baeza A, Medland SE, Colella S, Groszer M, McAuley EZ, Caffrey TM, Timmusk T, Pruunsild P, Koppel I, Lind PA, Matsumoto-Itaba N, Nicod J, Xiong L, Joober R, Enard W, Krinsky B, Nanba E, Richardson AJ, Riley BP, Martin NG, Strittmatter SM, Möller HJ, Rujescu D, St Clair D, Muglia P, Roos JL, Fisher SE, Wade-Martins R, Rouleau GA, Stein JF, Karayiorgou M, Geschwind DH, Ragoussis J, Kendler KS, Airaksinen MS, Oshimura M, Delisi LE, Monaco AP. (2007)  Mol Psychiatry. 2007 Dec;12(12):1129-39, 1057. Epub 2007 Jul 31. Free Full Text

Niacin skin test response in dyslexiaCyhlarova E, Montgomery P, Ross MA, Richardson AJ. (2007)  Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 77(2): 123-8.

Membrane fatty acids, reading and spelling in dyslexic and non-dyslexic adults. Cyhlarova E, Bell JG, Dick JR, Mackinlay EE, Stein JF, Richardson AJ. (2007)  Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 17(2) 116-21.
 PubMed Abstract

Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. Freeman MP, Hibbeln JR, Wisner KL, Davis JM, Mischoulon D, Peet M, Keck PE Jr, Marangell LB, Richardson AJ, Lake J, Stoll AL.  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2006, 67(12): 1954-67. Free Full text

Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Richardson AJ.  Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006, 18(2):155-72. Pubmed Abstract

Omega-3 for child behaviour, learning and mood: ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and related conditions. Richardson, A.J. (2006) Nutrition Practitioner, Summer 2006.

They Are What You Feed Them  Richardson Alex, Harper Thorson 2006.

The chromosome 6p22 haplotype associated with dyslexia reduces the expression of KIAA0319, a novel gene involved in neuronal migration Paracchini S, Thomas A, Castro S, Lai C, Paramasivam M, Wang Y, Keating BJ, Taylor JM, Hacking DF, Scerri T, Francks C, Richardson AJ, Wade-Martins R, Stein JF, Knight JC, Copp AJ, Loturco J, Monaco AP. (2006) Hum Mol Genet, 15(10):1659-66.

The Oxford-Durham study: a randomized controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder. Richardson AJ, Montgomery P. (2005) Pediatrics 115 (5) 1360-1366.  Free Full Text

Schizophrenia syndromes associated with changes in ventricle-to-brain ratios: a serial high-resolution 3D magnetic resonance imaging study in first-episode schizophrenia patients using subvoxel registration and semi-automated quantification. Puri BK, Saeed N, Richardson AJ, Oatridge A, Hajnal JV, Bydder GM (2005) International Journal of Clinical Practice, 59(4):399-402.

A 77-kilobase region of chromosome 6p22.2 is associated with dyslexia in families from the United Kingdom and from the United States. Francks C, Paracchini S, Smith SD, Richardson AJ, Scerri TS, Cardon LR, Marlow AJ, MacPhie IL, Walter J, Pennington BF, Fisher SE, Olson RK, DeFries JC, Stein JF, Monaco AP. (2004) Am J Hum Genet, 75(6):1046-58. Free Full text 

Richardson AJ. (2004) Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in childhood developmental and psychiatric disorders. Lipids, 39:1215-22.

Scerri TS, Fisher SE, Francks C, McPhie IL, Paracchini S, Richardson AJ, Stein JF and Monaco AP. (2004) Putative functional alleles of DYX1C1 are not associated with dyslexia susceptibility in a large sample of sibling pairs from the UK. Journal of Medical Genetics, 41(11):853-7.

Wilmer JB, Richardson AJ, Chen Y, Stein JF. (2004) Two visual motion processing deficits in developmental dyslexia associated with different reading skills deficits. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience,16(4):528-40.

Richardson AJ. (2004) Clinical trials of fatty acid treatment in ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and the autistic spectrum. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70(4) 383-90

Kinsey K, Rose M, Hansen P, Richardson A, Stein J. (2004)Magnocellular mediated visual-spatial attention and reading ability. Neuroreport, 15(14):2215-8.

Puri BK, Counsell SJ, Hamilton G, Bustos MG, Horrobin DF, Richardson AJ and Treasaden IH. (2004) Cerebral metabolism in male patients with schizophrenia who have seriously and dangerously violently offended: a 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70(4) 409-11.

Richardson AJ. (2003) Omega 3 fatty acids in developmental and psychiatric disorders. In Carr T and Descheemaeker K. (eds.) Nutrition and Health: Current Topics III. Antwerp-Apeldoorn: Garant, 55-63.

Richardson AJ. (2003) Clinical trials of fatty acid supplementation in dyslexia and dyspraxia. In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry and Neurology. Carnforth: Marius Press: 491-500.

Richardson AJ. (2003) Clinical trials of fatty acid supplementation in ADHD. In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry and Neurology. Carnforth: Marius Press: 529-41.

Richardson AJ, Cyhlarova E, Puri BK. (2003) Clinical and biochemical fatty acid abnormalities in dyslexia, dyspraxia, and schizotypy: an overview. In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry and Neurology. Carnforth: Marius Press: 477-90.

Puri BK and Richardson AJ. (2003) Long-term follow-up of a single patient with schizophrenia treated with ethyl-EPA alone. Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry and Neurology. Carnforth: Marius Press: 377-89.

Puri BK and Richardson AJ. (2003) Magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the assessment of brain phospholipids metabolism in dyslexia. Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry and Neurology. Carnforth: Marius Press: 501-8.

Richardson AJ. (2003) The role of omega 3 fatty acids in behaviour, cognition and mood. Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, 47(2): 92-98.

Richardson AJ, Cyhlarova E, Ross MA. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid concentrations in red blood cell membranes relate to schizotypal traits in healthy adults. (2003) Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 69(6): 461-6.

Francks C, Fisher SE, Marlow AJ, MacPhie IL, Taylor KE, Richardson AJ, Stein JF, Monaco AP. (2003) Familial and genetic effects on motor coordination, laterality, and reading-related cognition. Am J Psychiatry,160(11):1970-7.

Francks C, DeLisi LE, Shaw SH, Fisher SE, Richardson AJ, Stein JF, Monaco AP. (2003) Parent-of-origin effects on handedness and schizophrenia susceptibility on chromosome 2p12-q11. Hum Mol Genet. 15;12(24):3225-30.

Rosner BS, Talcott JB, Witton C, Hogg JD, Richardson AJ, Hansen PC, Stein JF. (2003) The perception of "sine-wave speech" by adults with developmental dyslexia. J Speech Lang Hear Res, 46(1):68-79

Marlow AJ, Fisher SE, Francks C, MacPhie IL, Cherny SS, Richardson AJ, Talcott JB, Stein JF, Monaco AP, Cardon LR (2003) Use of multivariate linkage analysis for dissection of a complex cognitive trait. Am J Hum Genet, 72(3):561-70.

Richardson AJ, Puri BK. (2002) A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of supplementation with highly unsaturated fatty acids on ADHD-related symptoms in children with specific learning difficulties. Prog Neuropsychopharm Biol Psychiat, 26(2) 233-239.

Fisher SE, Francks C, Marlow AJ, MacPhie IL, Newbury DF, Cardon LR, Ishikawa-Brush Y, Richardson AJ, Talcott JB, Gayan J, Olson RK, Pennington BF, Smith SD, DeFries JC, Stein JF, Monaco AP. (2002) Independent genome-wide scans identify a chromosome 18 quantitative-trait locus influencing dyslexia. Nature Genetics, 30(1):86-91.

Francks C, Fisher SE, MacPhie IL, Richardson AJ, Marlow AJ, Stein JF, Monaco AP. (2002) A Genomewide Linkage Screen for Relative Hand Skill in Sibling Pairs. Am J Hum Genet, 70:800-5.

France SJ, Rosner BS, Hansen PC, Calvin C, Talcott JB, Richardson AJ, Stein JF. (2002) Auditory frequency discrimination in adult developmental dyslexics. Perception and Psychophysics, 64, 169-79

Rae C, Harasty JA, Dzendrowskyj TE, Talcott JB, Simpson JM, Blamire AM, Dixon RM, Lee MA, Thompson CH, Styles P, Richardson AJ and Stein JF. (2002) Cerebellar morphology in developmental dyslexia. Neuropsychologia, 40, 1285-92.

Richardson AJ. (2002) The Role of Diet in ADHD. In Carr T and Descheemaeker K. (eds.) Nutrition and Health: Current Topics II. Antwerp-Apeldoorn: Garant.

Puri BK, Bydder GM, Counsell SJ, Corridan BJ, Richardson AJ, Hajnal JV, Appel, C, McKee HM, Vaddadi KS, Horrobin DF. (2002) MRI and neuropsychological improvement in Huntington’s disease following ethyl-EPA treatment. Neuroreport, 13:123-6.

Puri BK, Counsell SJ, Richardson AJ, Horrobin DF. (2002) Eicosapentaenoic acid in treatment-resistant depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(1):91-92.

Wood CP, Richardson AJ. (2002) Issues in atypical functioning: ‘normal development?’ - the case of dyslexia. In Roth I, Cooper T (eds). Challenging Issues in Psychology, Open University.

Richardson AJ. (2002) The potential role of fatty acids in developmental dyspraxia: can dietary supplementation help? Dyspraxia Foundation Professional Journal.

Puri BK, Hirsch SR, Easton T, Richardson AJ. (2002) A volumetric biochemical niacin-flush based index that non-invasively detects fatty acid deficiency in schizophrenia. Prog Neuropsychopharm Biol Psychiat, 26(1): 49-52.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ, Higgins CJ, Treasaden IH. (2002) Reduction in IQ in patients with schizophrenia who have seriously and dangerously violently offended. Schizophrenia Research, 53:267-8.

Richardson AJ, Allen S, Easton T and Puri BK. (2001) Associations between central and peripheral measures of phospholipid breakdown revealed by cerebral 31-P MRS and fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membranes. Prog Neuropsychopharm Biol Psychiat, 25(8):1513-1521.

Richardson AJ. (2001) Fatty Acids in Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and the Autistic Spectrum. Nutrition Practitioner, 3(3):18-24.

Taylor KET, Richardson AJ, Stein JF. (2001) Could platelet activating factor play a role in developmental dyslexia? Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 64(3):173-180.

Marlow AJ, Fisher SE, Richardson AJ, Francks C, Talcott JB, Monaco AP, Stein JF, Cardon LR. (2001) Investigation of quantitative measures related to reading disability in a large sample of sib-pairs from the UK. Behavioural Genetics, 31: 319-30.

Puri BK, Counsell SJ, Hamilton G, Richardson AJ, Horrobin DF. (2001) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in treatment-resistant depression associated with symptom remission, structural brain changes and reduced neuronal phospholipid turnover. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 55(8): 560-3.

Puri BK, Lekh SK, Nijran KS, Bagary MS, Richardson AJ. SPECT neuroimaging in schizophrenia with religious delusions. (2001) Int J Psychophysiol, 40, 143-148.

Puri BK, Easton T, Das I, Kidane L, Richardson AJ. (2001) The niacin skin flush test in schizophrenia: a replication study. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 55(6):368-370.

Richardson AJ, Ross MA. (2000) Fatty acid metabolism in neurodevelopmental disorder: a new perspective on associations between ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and the autistic spectrum. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 63:1-9

Richardson AJ, Puri BK. (2000) The potential role of fatty acids in Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 63:79-87.

Richardson AJ, Easton T, Puri BK. Red cell and plasma fatty acid changes accompanying symptom remission in a patient with schizophrenia treated with eicosapentaenoic acid. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 2000; 10:189-193.

Richardson AJ, Calvin CM, Clisby C, Schoenheimer DR, Montgomery P, Hall JA, Hebb G, Westwood E, Talcott JB, Stein JF. Fatty acid deficiency signs predict the severity of reading and related difficulties in dyslexic children. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 2000; 63:69-74.

Stein JF, Richardson AJ, Fowler MS. Monocular occlusion can improve binocular control and reading in developmental dyslexics. Brain, 2000;123(Pt 1):164-170.

Taylor KET, Higgins CJ, Calvin CM, Hall JA, Easton T, McDaid AM, Richardson AJ. Dyslexia in adults is associated with clinical signs of fatty acid deficiency. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 2000; 63:75-78.

Taylor KET, Richardson AJ. Visual function, fatty acids and dyslexia. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 2000; 63:89-93.

Francks C, Fisher SE, Marlow AJ, Richardson AJ, Stein JF and Monaco AP. A sibling pair based approach for mapping genetic loci that influence quantitative measures of reading disability. Prostaglandins Leukotr Essent Fatty Acids, 2000; 63: 27-31.

Richardson AJ, Puri BK. The potential role of fatty acids in Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Nutrition Practitioner, 2000; 2, 15-21.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ, Horrobin DF, Easton T, Saeed N, Oatridge A, Hajnal JV, Bydder GM. Eicosapentaenoic acid treatment in schizophrenia associated with symptom remission, normalization of blood fatty acids, reduced neuronal membrane phospholipid turnover, and structural brain changes. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 2000; 54(1): 57-63.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ The effects of olive oil on omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders (letter). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2000, 57, 715.

Richardson AJ, Easton T, McDaid AM, Hall JA, Montgomery P, Clisby C, Puri, BK. Essential fatty acids in dyslexia: theory, experimental evidence and clinical trials: In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry. Carnforth: Marius Press; 1999: 225-241.

Richardson AJ, Puri BK. Sustained symptom remission following treatment with eicospentaenoic acid in a case of schizophrenia with dyslexia: In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry. Carnforth: Marius Press; 1999: 181-188.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ. Brain phospholipid metabolism in dyslexia assessed by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In Glen AIM, Peet M, Horrobin DF. (eds.) Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder in Psychiatry. Carnforth: Marius Press; 1999: 243-249.

Richardson AJ, Easton T, Gruzelier JH, Puri BK. Laterality changes accompanying symptom remission in schizophrenia after treatment with eicosapentaenoic acid. Int.J.Psychophysiol. 1999; 34(3):333-339.

Stein JF, Richardson AJ Cognitive disorders: A question of misattribution. Current Biology, 1999; 9: R374-R376.

Baldeweg T, Richardson A, Watkins S, Foale C, Gruzelier, J. Impaired auditory frequency discrimination in dyslexia detected with mismatch evoked potentials. Annals of Neurology, 1999; 45(4):495-503.

Fisher SE, Marlow AJ, Lamb J, Maestrini E, Williams DF, Richardson AJ, Weeks DE, Stein JF, Monaco AP. A quantitative trait locus on chromosome 6p influences different aspects of developmental dyslexia. Am J Hum Genet, 1999; 64(1):146-56.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ, Oatridge A, Hajnal JV, Saeed N. Cerebral ventricular asymmetry in schizophrenia: a high-resolution 3D magnetic resonance imaging study. Int.J.Psychophysiol, 1999; 34(3):207-211.

Gruzelier J, Richardson A, Liddiard D et al. Opposite patterns of P300 asymmetry in schizophrenia are syndrome related. Int J Psychophysiol 1999; 34(3): 275-82.

Gruzelier JH, Wilson L, Dennis P, Liddiard D, Richardson AJ, Peters E, Pusavat L. Cognitive asymmetry patterns in schizophrenia: retest reliability and modifications with recovery. Int.J.Psychophysiol, 1999; 34(3):323-331.

Puri BK, Richardson AJ Sustained remission of positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia following treatment with eicosapentaenoic acid (letter). Archives of General Psychiatry, 1998; 55, 188-189.

Rae C, Lee MA, Dixon RM, Blamire AM, Thompson CH, Styles P, Talcott J, Richardson AJ, Stein JF. Metabolic abnormalities in developmental dyslexia detected by 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Lancet, 1998; 351: 1849-1852.

Witton C, Talcott JB, Hansen PC, Richardson AJ, Griffiths TD, Rees A, Stein JF, Green GGR. Sensitivity to dynamic auditory and visual stimuli predicts nonword reading ability in both dyslexics and normal readers. Current Biology, 1998; 8:791-797.

Talcott J, Hansen P, Willis-Owen C, McKinnell I, Richardson A.J, Stein JF. Visual magnocellular impairment in adult developmental dyslexics. Neuro-ophthalmology, 1998; 20(4): 187-201.

Richardson AJ, Cox IJ, Sargentoni J, Puri BK. Abnormal cerebral phospholipid metabolism in dyslexia indicated by phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NMR Biomed., 1997; 10, 309-314.

Richardson AJ Dyslexia and schizotypy. In Claridge GS. (ed) Schizotypy: relations with illness and health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997; 171-201.

Richardson AJ, Mason O, Claridge GS. Schizotypy and hemisphere function. In Claridge, G.S. (ed.) Schizotypy: relations with illness and health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997: 145-168.