Physiological consequences of adverse early-life experiences: A skeletal investigation of frailty and resilience within an institutionalized sample using a modified version of the Skeletal Frailty Index (SFI)
Mississippi State University
Zuckerman, Molly K.
Osterholtz, Anna J.
Date of Degree
Original embargo terms
Visible to MSU only for 2 years
Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only
Master of Arts
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures
This study investigates frailty, defined as the accumulation of deficits in physiological functioning, by applying the Skeletal Frailty Index (SFI) to a skeletal sample (N=67) recovered from the Mississippi State Asylum (MSA), and in a comparative sample, the Terry Collection. The SFI was statistically modified to increase its utility here. Variables that influence frailty, including age, sex, stress in early-life, and resilience, were assessed relative to four SFIs: Overall, Nutritional, Activity, and Infection. This study finds that the predicted relationships between the SFIs and the aforementioned variables are largely absent in the MSA sample. When compared to individuals in the Terry, MSA individuals generally manifest a lower prevalence of biomarkers but have reduced longevity, which suggests that MSA patients experienced higher frailty and lower resilience. This may be attributable to negative biosocial experiences over the life course prior to institutionalization, but primarily to often-negative environmental conditions during institutionalization.
Dafoe, Ashley, "Physiological consequences of adverse early-life experiences: A skeletal investigation of frailty and resilience within an institutionalized sample using a modified version of the Skeletal Frailty Index (SFI)" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 3537.