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In: Omran AR, Standley CC, ed. Family formation patterns and health--further studies: an international collaborative study in Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the Syrian Arab Republic. Geneva, World Health Organization, 1981. 63-71.The research problems and objectives of the study of family formation patterns and health in Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the Syrian Arab Republic are discussed in this chapter. Due to the close associations between unfavorable socioenvironmental conditions and poor health, it seemed possible that the relationships between factors determining family formation and health would be different in developing than in developed countries. It was also of interest to examine in developing communities the impact that child loss early in the reproductive span of a woman might have on her subsequent fertility. The specific study questions and objectives are outlined. Attention in the discussion is also directed to the organization of the study (collaborating centers, coordination, study organization in each center, writing of the reports, and the timetable); research hypotheses (selection of study variables and indices and statement of the research hypotheses); and the research setting (sampling, controls, study components, research instruments, and data processing and analysis). The responsibility for planning, coordination, and follow-up of the study was shared between the World Health Organization (WHO) Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction and the WHO Collaborating Center for Epidemiological Studies of Human Reproduction in Chapel Hill. The variables selected for study can be classified into 4 categories: sociocultural variables; family formation variables; health variables; and family planning behavior variables. 2 overall hypotheses were considered: health risks for mothers and children increase with high frequency of pregnancies, large family size, short birth intervals, and too young or too old age of mother at the time of pregnancy; and experience of child loss raises subsequent fertility. Family formation patterns and health in 2 or more different population subgroups were compared, each collaborating center selecting its subgroup from different residential areas. The material for the collaborative study was obtained through household surveys, structured interviews with married women under 45 years of age, medical examination of these women, pediatric examination of their children under 5 years of age, and IQ testing of children 8-14 years old.