Category Archives: Behavioral/mental health

Apr 15 2014
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Media Exposure and Acute Stress Following the Boston Marathon Bombings

E. Alison Holman, PhD, FNP, is an associate professor in nursing science at the University of California, Irvine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar.

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A year ago today, on April 15, 2013, in the first major terror attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people died and more than 260 were injured. For a week authorities searched for the perpetrators, shootouts occurred, and Boston was locked down. As reporters and spectators filmed the mayhem, graphic images were shown repeatedly in both traditional and social media around the world. Like the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, the population of the United States was the terrorists’ intended psychological target. Yet most research on reactions to such events focuses on individuals directly affected, leaving the public health consequences for populations living outside the immediate community largely unexplored.

Tens of thousands of individuals directly witnessed 9/11, but millions more viewed the attacks and their aftermath via the media. In our three-year study following 9/11, my colleagues and I found that people who watched more than one hour of daily 9/11-related TV in the week following the attacks experienced increases in post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms (e.g., flashbacks, feeling on edge and hyper vigilant, and avoidance of trauma reminders) and physical ailments over the next three years (Silver, Holman et al., 2013).

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Apr 7 2014
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In the Media: Mental Health Nurse Rocks Literary World

This is part of the April 2014 issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.

A nurse author is making a grand entrance on the literary scene.

British nurse Nathan Filer, 33, won a prestigious literary prize last month for his debut novel about mourning and mental illness. The book won the United Kingdom’s 2013 Costa Book of the Year award, which carries a prize of nearly $50,000.

Called Where the Moon Isn’t (and The Shock of the Fall in the U.K.), the novel tells the tale of a young schizophrenic who witnessed the death of his younger brother and winds up in a mental health institution.

It draws on Filer’s professional experience as a mental health nurse; he has worked in psychiatric wards for more than a decade.

“For a first novel it is astonishingly sure-footed. ... I think there is genuine excitement about this winner,” chief judge Rose Tremai said, according to a blog post on National Public Radio. “It is not just about schizophrenia—it is about grief.” 

Filer has said that he intends to remain active in nursing despite his newfound literary success.

Mar 20 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: ADHD medication, reconstruction after mastectomy, care for returning veterans, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

NBC News reports on a surge in the number of young adult women taking ADHD medication. An RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient, Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, explains that the rise in diagnoses among women in that age group may be evidence of failure to recognize the problem when the women were children. They may not have manifested symptoms as visibly as their male classmates with ADHD did, turning their distress inward rather than misbehaving in class, for example.

“How people with mental disorders are viewed by treatment providers and the general public can have a significant impact on treatment outcomes and the quality of life of clients,” Jennifer Stuber, PhD, and colleagues write in a study reported by Health Canal. The researchers presented vignettes about people with mental health problems to mental health providers and the general public, and compared their reactions. Providers had more positive attitudes, but some held views about the danger such patients might pose in the workplace that the researchers called “concerning.” Stuber is an RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna.

More women are having breast reconstruction after mastectomies, USA Today reports. As a result of a 1998 federal law, most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies also cover breast reconstruction. Researchers found that the share of women who received reconstruction after mastectomy rose from 46 percent to 63 percent between 1998 and 2007. Author Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, an RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumna, says the law could be contributing to the increase. The study was also covered by 9 News (Denver) and WKYC.com (Cleveland), among other outlets.

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Mar 13 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: Military suicides, easing the path to a BSN, early clues to lung cancer, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

Amid growing attention to suicide rates among members of the military, a new series of studies explores the contributing factors, the New York Times reports. One of the studies, on suicides and accidental deaths, was led by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Michael Schoenbaum, PhD. He identified a host of risk factors, including demotions, low rank, and previous deployment. However, Schoenbaum did not find evidence to support the contention that relaxed recruitment standards had led to the induction of soldiers more likely to commit suicide. The study was also covered in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian, among other outlets.

The North Carolina Medical Journal features an article by Polly Johnson, RN, MSN, RN, FAAN, on the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) initiative. It provides an economically feasible educational pathway between community colleges and universities so that more North Carolina nursing students can achieve a baccalaureate degree at the start of their careers. RIBN is supported by RWJF’s Academic Progression in Nursing initiative.

In her work as a nurse practitioner in a pediatric ICU, Karin Reuter-Rice, PhD, CPNC-AC, has observed that some children with traumatic brain injuries improve rapidly, while others suffer grave and permanent damage, reports Duke Nursing. As a result, Reuter-Rice, an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar, is using her RWJF grant for a multi-year research project to determine what neurological differences account for those dramatically different outcomes. She is exploring whether vasospasm, the sudden contraction of blood vessels in the brain, might play a role.

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Feb 27 2014
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Human Capital News Roundup: Risk of increased ADHD labeling, unnecessary emergency department scans, food labeling, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

In an op-ed for the New York Times, RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipients Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, and Richard Scheffler, PhD, discuss how a major expansion of early childhood education could have an unintended consequence: a dramatic increase in the number of pre-school age children, particularly from low-income families, who are wrongly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The writers recently authored a book, The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today's Push for Performance. The Wall Street Journal also covered the book release, among other outlets.

A study by RWJF Clinical Scholars alumnus, Jeremiah Schurr, MD, MHS, identifies five tests commonly performed in emergency departments that are unnecessary for some patients. In an article in Long Island Newsday, Schurr explains that curtailing their use for patients who do not exhibit specific symptoms could reduce health care costs. Schurr’s research shows that the information gleaned from the tests—CT scans and MRIs for certain patients and blood tests for others—can be derived just as effectively through less expensive procedures.

MedPage Today interviews Jason Karlawish, MD, an RWJF Investigator Award recipient, on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Karlawish emphasizes the importance of accurate diagnosis, proper medication, and family involvement and education. Read more about Karlawish’s work on Alzheimer’s disease on the Human Capital Blog.

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Feb 13 2014
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Human Capital News Roundup: Obesity, suicide prevention, syphilis, co-sleeping with infants, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

The deluge of articles, research, and books on obesity and diabetes are “the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment” and are not solving either epidemic, Gary Taubes, MSE, MS, writes in an opinion piece for the New York Times. “Making meaningful inroads ... requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.” Taubes received an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Read an interview with him about obesity and diabetes on the RWJF Human Capital Blog.

Finding healthy food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products, is more challenging for minorities living in urban areas than for others, according to research by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, ScM. Huffington Post’s Latino Voices features her study, which finds that most residents in urban settings have to bypass nearby corner stores offering little healthy food to find better options elsewhere.

In an opinion piece for the Seattle Times, RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Jennifer Stuber, PhD, writes that many health care professionals in the state do not feel prepared to handle suicide prevention and say training should be a requirement for licensure. Her piece was reprinted in Medical Xpress. Stuber’s work also was covered recently by Medical Daily and the New Republic. Read her RWJF Human Capital blog post on the subject.

In the Scientist, RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Kristin Harper, PhD, MPH, and colleagues analyze the origins of syphilis and discuss how understanding the history of the disease could help in developing a modern-day strategy to slow its spread.

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Feb 12 2014
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Adverse Working Conditions and Depression: A Strong Link

 Health & Society Scholars alumna Sarah A. Burgard, PhD (2003-2005). The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Human Capital Blog: How does your study differ from previous research exploring the link between adverse working conditions and depression?

Sarah Burgard: The main contribution of this study was in the way we measured working conditions. Most studies that have looked at adverse working conditions and depression, or other measures of health, have looked at one adverse working condition at a time, such as job strain, job insecurity, or job dissatisfaction. But every job comes with a whole package of working conditions. We felt that capturing multiple indicators at the same time might give us a truer sense of the size, the magnitude, and the power of the association between work and depression.

Also, while some previous studies relied on longitudinal data that included multiple interviews with workers over time, they often excluded workers who did not participate in every interview because those workers didn’t have a measure of the focal working condition at every possible interview. That’s a problem because people who have worse jobs are probably more likely to drop out of longitudinal studies or leave work. Our approach was different; we analyzed data from everyone who participated in at least one interview, using all possible working conditions measure collected at each wave. We created an “overall working conditions score” at each wave using item response theory models. As a result, were able to get a more representative picture.

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Jan 20 2014
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Compassion and a Coffee Cup

Mia R. Keeys, BA, is a 2008 graduate of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Keeys has worked with loveLife, the HIV/AIDS prevention youth campaign of South Africa. She served as a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in East Nusa Tenggara, Timor, Indonesia and is today a first-year doctoral student in sociology at Vanderbilt University and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow (2013).

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“'Scuse me, can I sit here?” she asked me.

I could have moved away. But, in a sea of patrons, it would have signified more than discomfort. What was I implying by staying seated? Was it a statement—a sit-in, if you will—to prove to myself she is no less valuable in our shared humanity? Was it to quell the guilt that I felt because I wanted to move and, furthermore, failed to ask her name? Her tawny hoodie reeked of the cold of black nights she likely endured in the last week, while I was home wrestling with my white feather-down comforter. From my seat and hers on a faux-leather brown couch—the brown of both our faces—the flames perform within the fireplace in front of us, as I perform indifference for those around me. I am not prejudice. I cross one leg sophisticatedly over the other. I am not prejudice.

A furtive leftward glance at my cell phone (albeit an archaic flip phone) exposed in my open bag—the only object separating our arms from touching. I am not prejudice. A chill in the air tickles my nose, but I resist a sneeze or even a nose-crinkle, lest the gesture of an otherwise trivial facial contortion suggest any discomfort associated with the stench of her clothes. 

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Dec 20 2013
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Beyond Harassment: The Psychological Distress from Being Stalked

By Darrick Hamilton*, PhD; William Darity, Jr., PhD; Timothy Diette, PhD; Arthur Goldsmith, PhD; and Katherine McFarland, BA. Hamilton is a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at Yale University.

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In our recent study, we estimate that female victims of stalking have a two to three times greater risk of developing psychological distress than women who are not the victims of stalking.

Though stalking is generally viewed as a less serious issue than sexual assault, public health officials estimate that approximately one in 20 Americans will be stalked at some point in their lives.  One third of those stalkers will become violent, and there is a strong link between stalking and domestic violence.  Our study examined the mental distress associated with stalking, and thus provides a conservative estimate of the true effects, which would include the risk of sexual and other physical violence associated with stalking as well.

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Nov 27 2013
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Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge: The November 2013 Issue

Have you signed up to receive Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge? The monthly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the work of RWJF’s nursing programs, and the latest news, research, and trends relating to academic progression, leadership, and other essential nursing issues. These are some of the stories in the November issue:

Push for Interprofessional Education Picks Up Steam

For decades, experts have called for more team-based care but the movement has gained traction in recent years with more health professions schools incorporating interprofessional education into their coursework. Proponents say this kind of education will prepare students to practice in coordinated, well-functioning health care teams, which in turn will help meet increasing, and increasingly complex, patient needs. Officials in several professions are considering making interprofessional education and training a requirement for accreditation for health professions colleges and universities.

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