Category Archives: Depression
Jason Houle, PhD, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin. He recently published a study online in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine that finds association between depressive symptoms and mortality is due to later health problems, not prior physical health conditions.
Human Capital Blog: Why did you decide to look at this particular topic?
Jason Houle: I first started looking at this topic in graduate school, when I took a course on event history models (a quantitative method often used when studying mortality). Up to that point, most of my research focused on the social determinants of mental health, but I had become increasingly interested in the link between mental and physical health. While there’s a long literature on how depression influences physical health (and vice versa), as a demographer, I was really interested in the link between depression and mortality. When researching this topic, I discovered a rather large literature that showed that people who experience depression tend to die younger, on average, than those who do not. However, it wasn’t clear from prior research why, exactly, depressed people tend to die younger than those who are not. Though it makes sense that depression is linked with mortality, the reasons behind it remained a puzzle, and I thought it would make an interesting project.
Sarah Burgard, PhD, MS, MA, is an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, and an associate professor of sociology and epidemiology and research associate professor at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. Burgard recently co-authored a study that finds perceived job insecurity is linked with significantly higher odds of fair or poor self-reported health, symptoms of depression, and anxiety attacks.
Human Capital Blog: What got you interested in researching the working lives and health outcomes of adults? Was there anything in particular that sparked your curiosity about job insecurity?
Sarah Burgard: I was interested in the excellent research being done by health disparities researchers that focused on socioeconomic position and its strong and persistent relationship with health. My dissertation looked at race and socioeconomic position and how they shaped children's health in different societies. When I started looking at the lives of adults in wealthy economies and focusing on health disparities in these groups, it struck me that most scholars were focused on education and income as stratifying factors, but not looking deeply at what connected them: paid employment.
Careers characterized by stimulating and satisfying work versus dangerous, monotonous or insecure work are of considerable interest in their own right to sociologists of stratification, but they could also be important for understanding divergence in health, as considerable research in occupational psychology and epidemiology has suggested. Many of the projects I've done have been aimed at bringing together the strong work in each of these fields to build even stronger explanations of the way work (or lack of work) influence health. I've been interested in less explored aspects of work, such as perceptions of job insecurity among those still employed, and in taking better account of the multitude of psychosocial aspects of work that affect individuals at a given point in time and the ways these could change over the career.
Human Capital News Roundup: Genetic mutations that cause melanoma, depression in adolescents, 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 and grantees. Some recent examples:
The Las Vegas Sun interviewed RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Debra Toney, PhD, MS, BSN, FAAN, who was chosen by the Coca-Cola Company to carry the Olympic torch in the relay leading up the opening ceremony on July 27. Read more about Toney’s experience in the latest issue of Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge.
RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program alumnus Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, is part of a team conducting research on genetic mutations and cancer. Health Canal reports on their findings, including which sun-damaged cells in a tumor contribute to melanoma.
A study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Margaret Sheridan, PhD, finds that childhood adversity produces measurable changes in children’s brains, Science Daily reports. It affects the amount of both the brain’s white matter (which is necessary for forming connections) and its gray matter, the research team found. For the study, they analyzed brain scans of Romanian children who had been moved from an orphanage to quality foster care homes.
An article from The Atlantic cites a working paper by Health & Society Scholar Jason Fletcher, PhD, that finds “adults who suffer from adolescent depression ultimately make about 20 percent less money than their peers and are somewhat less likely to be employed.”
Human Capital News Roundup: Depression among nurses, health effects of foreclosures, heat waves, and more.
Ryan Greysen, MD, MHS, an alumnus of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program, spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about the risks and benefits of social media in health care. Greysen and colleagues recently surveyed 68 executive directors of medical and osteopathic boards in the United States about violations of online professionalism among licensed physicians. Read more about the study.
One in five nurses is depressed—twice the rate of the U.S. population at large, according to a study led by RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) grantee Susan Letvak, PhD, RN. The study also looked at the impact of nurses’ depression on the quality of care they provide, and suggested that advanced practice nurses and nurse managers are well-positioned to identify depression and refer nurses for treatment. Health Leaders Media and the Cleveland Plain Dealer are among the outlets to report on the findings.
“Government can—and should—assist political scientists, especially those who use history and theory to explain shifting political contexts, challenge our intuitions and help us see beyond daily newspaper headlines,” RWJF Scholar in Health Policy Research Jacqueline Stevens, PhD, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. “Research aimed at political prediction is doomed to fail. At least if the idea is to predict more accurately than a dart-throwing chimp… I look forward to seeing what happens to my discipline and politics more generally once we stop mistaking probability studies and statistical significance for knowledge.”
RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Debra Ann Toney, PhD, MS, BSN, FAAN, will carry the Olympic torch through the English town of Kirtlington (near Oxford) in July, KSNV-TV (Las Vegas, Nevada) reports. Toney is one of 22 Americans selected by Coca-Cola, a sponsor of the Olympic Games, to carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Read a post Toney wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog.