PAWS - The Peers and Wellness Study


The Peers and Wellness Study

The Peers and Wellness Study (PAWS), was started in 2003 by Dr. Tom Boyce and Dr. Nancy Adler in order to look more closely at the effects of environmental and biological factors on health. The associations among various social and economic factors in a person’s life (such as living conditions, lifestyle, and access to quality healthcare) and an individual’s health are not well understood. The relation between a person’s position in society or their community and health is also poorly understood. By capturing a range of information on kindergarten children during an early developmental period when kids are perhaps first encountering new structured environments, social stress, and ordered social relations, the research team is able to look at these factors to better understand their effects on health.

Starting in 2003, our team worked together with schools and families to collect data on East Bay Area children during their kindergarten and 1st grade years. The PAWS study involved 6 preschools and nearly 350 families! Three waves of participants enrolled in our study during 2003-5. In 2008 we began a follow up component of the study so we could capture information on peer relationships and physical development in children, which has been completed. The PAWS research team has since been working on analyzing the data and writing and submitting articles for publication.

Dr. Nicki Bush joined the PAWS team in 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow, and currently Co-Directs the science of the study with Dr. Boyce. Dr. Bush is also the Principal Investigator of the supplemental genetics study on the PAWS project. 

For more information, the website for the Peers and Wellness Study can be found here

Key Investigators

Tom Boyce, MD

Principal Investigator, Co-Scientific Director


Nancy Adler, PhD

Principal Investigator


Nicki Bush, PhD

PAWS-Genetics Principal Investigator, Co-Scientific Director 


Danielle Roubinov, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar 



13. Roubinov, D.*, Hagan, M., Boyce, W.T., Adler, N., & Bush, N. (2017). Child temperament and teacher relationship interactively predict cortisol expression:, The prism of classroom climate. Development and Psychopathology.

12. Hagan, M.*, Roubinov, D.*, Adler, N., Boyce, W. T., & Bush, N. (2016). Socioeconomic adversity and negativity in the parent child-relationship: The complex costs for young children’s physical health and examinations of biological mechanisms. Psychosomatic Medicine,78(9), 998-1007.

11.  Bush, N., Allison*, A., Adler, N., Deardorff, J., & Boyce, W. T. (2017). Socioeconomic disparities in childhood obesity risk: Moderation by an oxytocin polymorphism. JAMA Pediatrics,171(1), 61-67. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2332

10. Portilla, X. A., Ballard, P. J., Adler, N. E., Boyce, W. T., & Obradovic, J. (2014). An Integrative View of School Functioning: Transactions Between Self-Regulation, School Engagement, and Teacher-Child Relationship Quality. Child Development, 85(5), 1915-1931. doi:10.1111/cdev.12259

9. Quas, J. A., Yim, I. S., Oberlander, T. F., Nordstokke, D., Essex, M. J., Armstrong, J. M., Bush, N.R., Obradovic, J.,Boyce, W. T. (2014). The symphonic structure of childhood stress reactivity: patterns of sympathetic, parasympathetic, and adrenocortical responses to psychological challenge. Dev Psychopathol, 26(4 Pt 1), 963-982. doi:10.1017/S0954579414000480

8. Boyce, W. T., Obradovic, J., Bush, N. R., Stamperdahl, J., Kim, Y. S., & Adler, N. (2012). Social stratification, classroom climate, and the behavioral adaptation of kindergarten children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 Suppl 2, 17168-17173. doi:10.1073/pnas.1201730109

7. Obradovic, J., Bush, N. R., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). The interactive effect of marital conflict and stress reactivity on externalizing and internalizing symptoms: the role of laboratory stressors. Dev Psychopathol, 23(1), 101-114. doi:10.1017/S0954579410000672

6. Bush, N. R., Alkon, A., Obradovic, J., Stamperdahl, J., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). Differentiating challenge reactivity from psychomotor activity in studies of children's psychophysiology: considerations for theory and measurement. J Exp Child Psychol, 110(1), 62-79. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2011.03.004

5. Kroenke, C. H., Epel, E., Adler, N., Bush, N. R., Obradovic, J., Lin, J., Blackburn, E., Stamperdahl, J.L., Boyce, W. T. (2011). Autonomic and adrenocortical reactivity and buccal cell telomere length in kindergarten children. Psychosom Med, 73(7), 533-540. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e318229acfc

4. Bush, N. R., Obradovic, J., Adler, N., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). Kindergarten stressors and cumulative adrenocortical activation: the "first straws" of allostatic load? Dev Psychopathol, 23(4), 1089-1106. doi:10.1017/S0954579411000514

3. Boyce, W. T., Den Besten, P. K., Stamperdahl, J., Zhan, L., Jiang, Y., Adler, N. E., & Featherstone, J. D. (2010). Social inequalities in childhood dental caries: the convergent roles of stress, bacteria and disadvantage. Soc Sci Med, 71(9), 1644-1652. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.07.045

2. Obradovic, J., Bush, N. R., Stamperdahl, J., Adler, N. E., & Boyce, W. T. (2010). Biological sensitivity to context: the interactive effects of stress reactivity and family adversity on socioemotional behavior and school readiness. Child Dev, 81(1), 270-289. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01394.x

1. Oveis, C., Gruber, J., Keltner, D., Stamper, J. L., & Boyce, W. T. (2009). Smile Intensity and Warm Touch as Thin Slices of Child and Family Affective Style. Emotion, 9(4), 544-548. doi:10.1037/a0016300