Research

Stress and Anxiety in Latina Farmworkers

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-22 06:30:11
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                    [post_content] => Although we might have an image of farmworkers as sun-beaten men, nearly one-third (28%) of farmworkers are women. In addition to the well-known dangers of this farm work—pesticides, heat, injuries from machinery—women farmworkers face particular challenges including sexual harassment, assault, and violations of their reproductive rights, Most American farmworkers are Latinos, and Latino women may have particular stresses and mental health concerns.

Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine compared the mental health of Latina farmworker immigrants in North Carolina to other Latina immigrant laborers. This study was part of a community-based participatory research collaboration with the NC Farmworkers Project that started in 2000. Community-based participatory research focuses on making community members “full and equal partners in all phases of the research process.”

In this study, female farmworkers reported greater stress and anxiety than women working outside the agricultural sector. The authors provided several reasons for these findings. First, the manual labor of farming is hazardous work; second, these jobs are seasonal, and employment is sporadic; third, working hours are long. Fourth, the farm industry has high rates of sexual harassment. The problem is so pervasive within the agricultural sector that the National Farm Worker Ministry has developed an online resource to provide women farmworkers with information they can use to advocate for their rights. And, in August, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund announced that it will provide support to the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas to educate farmworkers about sexual harassment and their legal rights.

The researchers note that older Latina farmworkers, who are less likely to have young children at home, reported lower levels of stress than younger Latina farmworkers. For some, the low wages of the agricultural sector and other characteristics of this work can exacerbate stress related to balancing work with family responsibilities.

The care of Latina farmworkers should involve attention to the specific mental health needs of this group as well as the physical problems, as these women have far higher rates of anxiety and depressive than other segments of the American female population.

Feature image: Joseph Sorrentino/iStock
                    [post_title] => Stress and Anxiety in Latina Farmworkers
                    [post_excerpt] => Latina farmworker immigrants in North Carolina reported greater stress and anxiety than Latina immigrant laborers working outside the agricultural sector. 
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Latina farmworker immigrants in North Carolina reported greater stress and anxiety than Latina immigrant laborers working outside the agricultural sector.

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Research

Reducing the Harms of Childhood Trauma

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-18 05:00:50
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-18 10:00:50
                    [post_content] => Repeated traumatic experiences in childhood can have a strong, lasting impact on a person’s future health, behavior, and success. As the number of these experiences increases, the risk of harm related to physical and mental health, academic and professional performance, and early substance use in adulthood can also increase. Forms of trauma include child abuse, neglect, grief, loss, separation from family, and placement in welfare, among other stressors. Complex trauma occurs when these experiences start early in childhood and accumulate. Within child welfare systems, the likelihood of anxiety and depression is higher among children with complex trauma.

In April of 2018, two fatal cases of child abuse in Maine brought attention to how things can go incredibly wrong when a state’s welfare system fails to identify dangerous maltreatment situations. Approaching child welfare with a practice that helps monitor, address, and overcome trauma has potential to improve how child abuse and neglect are tackled on a system and state level. Trauma-informed initiatives also equip case-workers with tools to manage responses to their own trauma that might result from being exposed to their clients’ experiences.

The Massachusetts Child Trauma Project ran from 2011 to 2016, with a goal of using trauma-informed practice to help children with complex trauma under the care of the state’s welfare program. It emphasized increased training for caseworkers to employ protocols and guidelines for trauma-informed approaches so that clients can be more actively referred to evidence-based treatment options.
Physical abuse was 12% less likely in the intervention group of children who received care from programs using trauma-informed practice, compared to children who did not receive trauma-informed care.  
Beth Barto and colleagues conducted a study to assess the impact of the Massachusetts project on cases of child maltreatment, as well as successful placement of foster children in stable and permanent families. The researchers compared experiences of children served by welfare offices that did not employ the project’s protocols to children served by offices that did, with the expectation that trauma-informed care would result in better outcomes. The study’s results aligned with the researchers’ hypothesis that children whose caseworkers followed the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project’s protocol saw better outcomes overall. Physical abuse was 12% less likely in the intervention group of children who received care from programs using trauma-informed practice, compared to children who did not receive trauma-informed care. Neglect was 14% less likely among children in the intervention group. In terms of permanency of placement of children in the welfare system, those who received trauma-informed care were 21% more likely to be adopted than those served by programs without trauma-informed protocol. Compared to long-term foster care, children who are successfully adopted experience more stability and have improved mental health. The researchers emphasize that policy makers consider investing in trauma-sensitivity training for state welfare programs. They also suggest that collaborations between mental health and child welfare services, as well as changes in their practices to incorporate more trauma-informed approaches, may lead to improved coordination of care for children and better health, academic performance, and life success. Feature image: tom_t.photography, Lost Teddy? used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 [post_title] => Reducing the Harms of Childhood Trauma [post_excerpt] => A study on the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project showed trauma-informed care of children in the state’s welfare program resulted in less physical abuse, neglect, and better adoption placement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => reducing-harms-of-childhood-trauma [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-18 05:20:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-18 10:20:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6157 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

A study on the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project showed trauma-informed care of children in the state’s welfare program resulted in less physical abuse, neglect, and better adoption placement.

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Research

Your Hourly Wage Affects Your Weight?

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-17 07:00:07
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-17 12:00:07
                    [post_content] => The last federal minimum wage increase occurred in 2009 raising the hourly minimum compensation to $7.25. One lesser known fact is that the hourly rate does not automatically adjust for inflation, thereby eroding the purchasing power of individuals who earn it. As a result of federal inaction and rising costs of living, several states and municipalities have elected to raise the minimum wage above the federal level. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia plan to increase, the wage floor in 2019. Some states already have. For example, in New York City the minimum wage increased for large employers from $13 to $15 an hour on January 1, 2019.

The current debate on the benefits of raising the minimum wage rarely acknowledges that individuals of all ages are compensated at the lowest required amount. This reality contrasts starkly with the common perception that only temporary employees and high school students are paid at this rate. Over 2.2 million employees earn wages at or below the minimum wage. Forty-six percent of earners are older than 25 and 19% are older than 45, highlighting that the minimum wage permeates all facets of the working population.
Forty-six percent of earners are older than 25 and 19% are older than 45, highlighting that the minimum wage permeates all facets of the working population.  
Opponents of minimum wage increases point to rising labor costs that could reduce employment, though little consensus exists on whether such effects materialize beyond teen employment. Proponents argue that increasing salaries will have wide ranging benefits, such as improved diet and enabling workers to address delayed health care needs; however, little evidence exists to support such claims. I recently conducted a study with my colleague, Elena Andreyeva, to explore the effect of state-level minimum wage increases on a broad set of health and dietary outcomes between 1993 and 2015 among individuals most likely affected by changes to the minimum wage: 21 to 64 year olds attached to the labor force with no more than a high-school degree. We evaluated the impacts of minimum wage increases on health care access, self-reported health, and health behaviors (alcohol consumption, smoking, weight, fruit and vegetable intake). We found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage reduced daily fruit and vegetable consumption and increased the likelihood of obesity. This implies an increase in unhealthy food consumption, possibly connected to purchasing more meals at restaurants. These impacts were largest among individuals who were high-school graduates, married, and between the ages of 30 and 65.
We found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage reduced daily fruit and vegetable consumption and increased the likelihood of obesity.  
Higher minimum wages were associated with fewer days reported with health-related limitations. We did not detect large overall impacts on health care access or self-reported health. Instead, the benefits of minimum wage increases were concentrated among subsamples. The reduction in reported days with health-related limitations was strongest among non-White, middle-aged (30-39), and married individuals. Married, White respondents and those with a high school degree were more likely to have visited a doctor for an annual check-up. Young adults (age 21-29), women, unmarried individuals, and those with a high school degree reported fewer days with mental health problems, possibly indicating that easing immediate monetary concerns may improve mental health in the long-term.
We did not detect large overall impacts on health care access or self-reported health. Instead, the benefits of minimum wage increases were concentrated among subsamples.  
Our findings are broadly in line with previous research showing that the minimum wage seems to have little overall effect on self-reported health and that the impact is concentrated among specific socio-demographic groups. General policy recommendations need to take into account that specific groups, especially the younger population and singles, seem to benefit quite substantially from the current increases in the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage may be especially beneficial in states and occupations at the bottom of the wage distribution with few benefits (such as health insurance). Increasing the minimum wage too much can have repercussions for fringe benefits and overall welfare. If minimum wage policy affects the salary of occupations higher up the wage distribution then this can lead employers to eliminate health insurance benefits to offset the increase in salary. Given the value of health insurance, a general policy guideline should be to implement minimum wage increases among those at the bottom of the wage distribution who predominately do not receive health insurance benefits. Feature image: MarianVejcik/iStock [post_title] => Your Hourly Wage Affects Your Weight? [post_excerpt] => Ukert and colleagues explored the effect of state-level minimum wage increases on health and diet among individuals most likely affected by changes to the minimum wage. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => your-hourly-wage-affects-your-weight [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-17 07:08:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-17 12:08:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6164 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Ukert and colleagues explored the effect of state-level minimum wage increases on health and diet among individuals most likely affected by changes to the minimum wage.

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Research

Condom Nation

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-16 07:00:38
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-16 12:00:38
                    [post_content] => Male condoms help make sex safer, but are not always fun to use. Lubricated to encourage use, condoms are often packaged with only a small amount of lubricant that often requires reapplication. That’s why researchers at Boston University have invented a self-lubricating condom. Designed to become (and stay) slippery when wet, the researchers hope that their condom’s self-lubricant properties will increase comfort and make use more common. Although this new condom has not yet been tested during intercourse, results from durability and preference testing seem promising.

The condom is coated in a layer of water-loving polymer compounds and dried under UV light to create a surface-coating that stays slick. Researchers took care to measure the condom’s strength to make sure the coating didn’t weaken the latex underneath. They found that their condom can last for 1000 thrusts and hold 1 ¼ cups of water. Granted that the average act of intercourse lasts between 100-500 thrusts and results in a teaspoon of ejaculate, these condoms appear plenty equipped for the job.

A small group of participants performed a blind touch-test to compare the coated condom to dry and old-fashioned lubricated condoms. Nine out of ten participants reported that the coated condom felt the oiliest, and 73% said they liked it best. Almost all of the participants who ‘usually’ or ‘occasionally’ use condoms during intercourse said they preferred the coated condom and would consider using it regularly. Eighty-three percent of individuals who ‘never’ use a condom during sex reported that they would prefer an inherently slippery condom, while one-fifth reported the slippery coating would make them consider using one.

Cases of sexually transmitted infections are at record highs. Wearing condoms can prevent STI transmission. Yet glow-in-the-dark and bacon-flavored condoms don’t seem to be having an substantial impact on increasing use and preventing infections. A condom that stays slippery might just do the trick.

Graphic from Royal Society Open Science, "Friction-lowering capabilities and human subject preferences for a hydrophilic surface coating on latex substrates: implications for increasing condom usage," Benjamin G. Cooper, Stacy L. Chin, Ruiqing Xiao, Karen Buch, Ducksoo Kim, and Mark W. Grinstaff. Published:01 October 2018. 
                    [post_title] => Condom Nation
                    [post_excerpt] => Cases of sexually transmitted infections are at record highs. Could a self-lubricating condom make sex safer and be fun to use? 
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Cases of sexually transmitted infections are at record highs. Could a self-lubricating condom make sex safer and be fun to use?

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Research

Neighborhoods Matter for Sex Risk in Our Cities

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-15 06:00:05
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                    [post_content] => Black youth are much more likely to acquire sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV than White youth. Much of the research on STD and HIV prevention has aimed to change individual behavior, such as increasing condom use and monogamy in relationships. However, we have learned that STDs and HIV cluster in communities that are disproportionately affected by incarceration, economic disadvantage, boarded-up buildings, and other signs of neighborhood disorder.

In many cases, attempting to change individual risk behaviors has not made a major impact on these epidemics. The reasons are likely twofold. The first is partner availability. High rates of incarceration in many Black communities create a sex ratio imbalance where women are devalued and multiple partnerships among males are tolerated, leading to a lack of willingness among males to use condoms or women to negotiate condom use. The second is community characteristics. Since STD rates in majority Black communities are higher than those in majority White communities, even in contexts where people engage in the same behaviors, those living in majority Black communities have a greater chance of coming in contact with an infected partner.

Our analysis aimed to characterize the sexual risk behavioral patterns of youth at age 20 and understand how early and current environmental factors relate to these sexual risk behavioral profiles. We used data from a study that began in 1985 as an intervention in elementary schools located in socio-economically distinct areas in Baltimore. The original study followed 2,311 participants (66% were Black) from first grade to young adulthood (ages 6-32) to understand how the classroom-based interventions (which focused on school achievement or aggressive behavior), early experiences, individual characteristics, and neighborhood environment impact behaviors in adulthood.
What distinguished high-risk youth from those who were not engaging in risky sexual behavior was their neighborhood context. Their neighborhoods were poor, unsafe, full of drug activity, violent, and crime-ridden.  
We found three patterns: high risk, low risk, and no risk. Only 13% of males and 15% of females were considered “high risk” behaviorally. High-risk males and females were primarily individuals having sex without a condom. About half of high-risk men and almost 20% of the high-risk women also had multiple sexual partners in the past month. In general, they were not engaging in the other sexual risk behaviors we examined. We then took these sexual behavior profiles and associated them with other risk factors. The risk of an STD in the high-risk group was 6-12 times that of the no-risk group. Those in the high-risk group were also much more likely to have dropped out of high school, have drug problems, have been arrested, and have had a teenage pregnancy. This pattern demonstrates that even relatively normative levels of sexual behavioral risk clusters with other risks. What distinguished high-risk youth from those who were not engaging in risky sexual behavior was their neighborhood context. Their neighborhoods were poor, unsafe, full of drug activity, violent, and crime-ridden. For men, neighborhood racism also predicted sexual risk behaviors. Baltimore, like many inner cities, is characterized by high rates of poverty, crime, and violence. The youth who grow up in these environments often feel powerless and may use sex to gain some control in their lives. Women may have few partners to choose from and little power in their relationships. For women, though, we found that church-going in the community was protective against risky sexual behavior. Our findings emphasize the importance of neighborhood environment when investigating sexual risk in urban communities. Results also suggest that, to reduce the disproportionate burden of STDs and HIV in urban communities, we need to invest in poor urban communities and provide the resources necessary to promote positive development and opportunity. This is especially essential now as drug use is pervasive, violence is on the rise, and concentrated poverty continues to grow in America’s cities. Feature image: Baltimore HeritageRowhouses, 2001–2011 Greenmount Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21218. Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2019 January 2. Public domain. Used for illustrative purposes only.  [post_title] => Neighborhoods Matter for Sex Risk in Our Cities [post_excerpt] => STDs and HIV cluster in communities that are disproportionately affected by incarceration, economic disadvantage, boarded-up buildings, and other signs of neighborhood disorder. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => neighborhood-factors-matter-for-sex-risk-in-our-cities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-15 06:22:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-15 11:22:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6140 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

STDs and HIV cluster in communities that are disproportionately affected by incarceration, economic disadvantage, boarded-up buildings, and other signs of neighborhood disorder.

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Research

It’s Time for Americans to Stop Sleeping on Sleep

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-14 05:45:04
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-14 10:45:04
                    [post_content] => Sleep is one of the most important things we do. Not sleeping enough or well can lead to poor job performance, the loss of friendships, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, and even higher risk of death. Yet, when life gets hectic or stressful, we often sacrifice sleep to make time for other activities.

Given the implications of sleep for almost everything we do as humans, my colleagues and I decided to take a closer look at which Americans were sleeping better than others and whether or not some Americans have been sleeping worse in recent years.

Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, we analyzed self-reported sleep duration for almost 400,000 American adults between 2004 and 2017. We found that, since 2012, Americans have become significantly more likely to report sleeping six hours or less. Six hours is the cut off, after which, the risk for a host of negative health conditions increases. People of color, particularly Black and Latino survey respondents, were likely to report short-sleep — defined as six or less hours in a 24-hour period.

So why exactly are more Americans reporting less sleep? We are still looking for clear answers but we do know that there is a strong connection between stress and sleep quality. Americans, in general, are stressed out.
An increase in smartphone usage also likely plays a role in sleep loss by bringing bright light, work, and stress into the bedroom.  
Results from the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey showed Americans are experiencing more stress than ever, and that concerns about the future of the country, money, and work are among the most significant sources. Other studies have indicated that Black and Hispanic Americans are increasingly anxious about violence, and this neighborhood-related stress may also negatively influence their sleep. An increase in smartphone usage also likely plays a role in sleep loss by bringing bright light, work, and stress into the bedroom. Studies show that the use of smart phones has increased from about 35% in 2011 to almost 80% in 2016. Given the strong links between sleep and health, our findings could signal increasing societal level health problems and widening racial inequality in health. For instance, quality sleep is critically important to cardiometabolic health and heart disease remains a top killer of Black Americans. The critical importance of restorative sleep warrants attention from policy makers to develop policies that reduce stress, such as minimizing work place discrimination and educating the public regarding the importance of sleep so that sleep can be prioritized. Other policies, such as those in France and Germany that limit employees from responding to emails in work hours could also benefit sleep. Finally, other policies that minimize socioeconomic inequality are likely to also benefit population level sleep inequality. In such a connected and stressful time it is especially important for Americans to prioritize their sleep whenever they can. The author would like to thank Suzanne Wilson for help on an earlier iteration of this article. Feature image: Andrew Guan on Unsplash [post_title] => It's Time for Americans to Stop Sleeping on Sleep [post_excerpt] => Americans, especially people of color, are significantly more likely to report sleeping six hours or less. Sleeping six hours is the cut off, after which, negative health risks increase. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => less-sleep-in-america [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-14 06:38:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-14 11:38:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6137 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Americans, especially people of color, are significantly more likely to report sleeping six hours or less. Sleeping six hours is the cut off, after which, negative health risks increase.

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Research

College Drinkers Call for Help

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-11 04:55:51
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                    [post_content] => It’s no secret that most college students drink, often heavily. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 60% of college students report drinking within the last month, and nearly 40% report binge drinking.

Excessive drinking can lead to severe health consequences, including alcohol poisoning and even death. To mitigate these risks, many colleges have passed medical amnesty policies. These policies remove potential punishments for underage drinking if students call for medical assistance in an emergency.

A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health assessed how a medical amnesty policy at Georgetown University affected calls to a college-based emergency medical services agency. According to the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation, these agencies provide emergency medical services to college campuses and are sometimes staffed and organized by students themselves. The researchers analyzed the call data between August of 2014 and July of 2017 to assess the number of calls and the times they were made. The medical amnesty policy was implemented in August of 2014.
Calls were made earlier in the evening, and advanced life support was used less often.  
Before the policy was implemented, calls typically spiked in September and October, at the start of the academic year, and in April and May at the end of the year. After the policy was implemented, the average calls per day increased in the fall semester, but remained the same in spring. (The average number of calls over the course of the academic year did not change.) Calls were made earlier in the evening, and advanced life support was used less often. The researchers suggest that more calls were being made by and for students before they became severely ill. The researchers argue that such policies appear to alleviate student fears that calling for emergency help will lead to disciplinary action or other trouble. Medical amnesty policies have been implemented at colleges across the country, from Georgetown University to the University of Mississippi to the University of California, Davis. More campuses across the country are trying to pass these policies as diverse organizations push for passage of medical amnesty policies on both a college and state level. Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international organization that grades campuses based on specific policies related to drug and alcohol use. Medical amnesty policies earn campuses the highest score on their list. The Medical Amnesty Initiative focuses on passing these laws at the state level to apply to the widest variety of colleges and universities. Feature image: Cebolla4/iStock [post_title] => College Drinkers Call for Help [post_excerpt] => Many colleges have passed medical amnesty policies that remove potential punishments for underage drinking if students call for medical assistance in an emergency. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => medical-amnesty-policies-on-college-campuses [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-11 10:26:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-11 15:26:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6141 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Many colleges have passed medical amnesty policies that remove potential punishments for underage drinking if students call for medical assistance in an emergency.

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Research

Women in Soccer and Brain Injury

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-09 05:00:06
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-09 10:00:06
                    [post_content] => By name, neither of the two football sports indicate any risk to a player’s head during games, but both are strongly associated with concussions and head injuries. Continuing research chronicles American football players’ susceptibility to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of brain trauma, but soccer players are also at risk of concussions that could lead to CTE.

Soccer is the only sport in which “heading” is central to the game, but heading (and the collision between players’ heads) maybe related to severe problems with players’ central nervous system. Women players are at particular risk, but not because of differences in the frequency of heading between men and women. Indeed women are more likely to discuss their health and any troubling symptoms than men; despite this, women have shorter breaks from playing than men after concussions, and miss fewer work days.
Women players are at particular risk, but not because of differences in the frequency of heading between men and women.  
Since much of the research on soccer-related concussions features subjective reports, Todd Rubin and colleagues set out to use an objective brain imaging technique to compare head injury impacts on men and women. Using diffusion-tensor imaging, the researchers observed that there were sex-based differences in changes in brain tissue, specifically white matter, among amateur players. Participants in the study actively played soccer for at least six months a year between 2013 and 2016, and completed questionnaires on exposures to headings, past concussions, and medical history. Exposure to heading was assessed through questions that asked about indoor and outdoor soccer activity, as well as involvement in competitive games. Using this information, the researchers created a measure of total heading exposure. Study participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion-terror imaging to detect in white matter abnormalities.
After looking at the brain imaging results, repeated heading affected about five times more white matter in women than in men.  
After looking at the brain imaging results, repeated heading affected about five times more white matter in women than in men. This indicates that female headers may suffer a higher burden of brain injury than men. Three regions of the brain showed high associations between heading exposure and changes in tissue among both men and women. But the regions where repeated heading had the greatest impact on brain tissue changes among women were the regions that exhibited lesser impact among men. The researchers concluded that although these changes in white matter may not manifest as a clinical issue (such as a change in behavior) right away, the accumulation of tissue alteration may eventually lead to more physically evident problems. Whether these changes are fully reversible over time remains to be determined. They propose carefully tailoring soccer safety guidelines to address the risks to male and female players, and emphasize that understanding sex-based differences in potential brain injury will help better prevent the debilitating effects of brain damage seen among so many college and professional football players. Feature image: isitsharp/iStock [post_title] => Women in Soccer and Brain Injury [post_excerpt] => Women soccer players are at particular risk. Brain imaging showed repeated "heading" may cause more brain injury in women than in men. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => women-in-soccer-and-brain-injury [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-10 11:02:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-10 16:02:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6110 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

Women soccer players are at particular risk. Brain imaging showed repeated “heading” may cause more brain injury in women than in men.

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Research

Video Games and Violence: A Continuing Discussion

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                    [post_date] => 2019-01-07 06:00:36
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-01-07 11:00:36
                    [post_content] => More than 211 million Americans play video games, and worldwide 2.7 billion people play video games regularly. This makes video games one of the largest media platforms used across all age groups. Forty-nine percent of the most played video games feature some form of violence and aggression as a critical component.

The effects of this violent content on aggression and violence on the behavior of those who play video games is under debate and not clearly understood. My research team at the University at Buffalo Neurocognition Science Laboratory has begun to study and develop a computational model to identify the underlying social health factors and measure the potential causal relationships between violent and aggressive behavior and video game play.

A computational model is a mathematical process used to study real-time, nonlinear relationships to assess the likelihood that one factor in a context of many, causes a particular outcome. In this project, we attempted to understand the relationship between playing video games with violent content and perpetrating violence. In this type of research, simple analytical results are not possible, but the findings can help us to better understand the complex interaction of social and biological factors that might lead to violent behavior.
We developed three computational models to try to explain the origins of aggression and violence.  
We developed three computational models to try to explain the origins of aggression and violence: the General Aggression Model (GAM), the Diathesis-Stress Model (DSM), and a theoretical combined model (DSM+GAM). The GAM seeks to explain how aggression in virtual environments might lead people to imitate aggressive behaviors and become aggressive and violent themselves. The DSM model explains aggression and violence as arising from biological factors which make people vulnerable to the commission of violent acts. The final, combined model looks at the ways in which the biological predisposition and specific social factors interact to produce violent and aggressive actions in people who play video games. In essence, much of the debate about violent video game content revolves around the question of nature versus nurture.
In essence, much of the debate about violent video game content revolves around the question of nature versus nurture.  
Our research team combined data from multiple studies of over 1,000 gamers in grades nine through twelve using each model. We looked at multiple social factors (ranging from socio-economic status to playing video games) and biological factors (for example, Monoamines Oxidase A gene mutations) which have been linked to aggressive and violent behaviors. Each model allowed us to vary the estimated effects of each factor on the likelihood of violence in an effort to find the relative effect of each factor as a person played video games with violent content. Results illustrate that the models of aggression focused only on social factors or biological factors do not adequately predict or explain aggressive and violent behaviors as they arise from video game play. Results from the model that looked at interactions between biological and social factors were more compelling in that they illustrated socioemotional, cognitive, and biological vulnerabilities that interact to influence violent actions among video gamers. In other words, video games do not, in and of themselves, create aggressive behavior. Rather, the video game may act as a primer for violence and aggression when specific biological and social conditions are present.
Rather, the video game may act as a primer for violence and aggression when specific biological and social conditions are present.  
The complexity of the interactions between the biological and social has been an area of considerable research in almost all realms of academia. While this research project has helped to clarify the role of the biological and social factors related to violence in video games, it is by no means the end of the questions. In essence, we need to move past the question of whether or not there is a relationship between aggression and video games and instead focus on the how and why video games cause aggressive behavior. Once we understand how, why, and for whom video games increase aggressive behavior we can more easily develop interventions and policies, and work with public health professionals to begin to mitigate the negative effects of this relationship. Feature image: KsuperKsu/iStock [post_title] => Video Games and Violence: A Continuing Discussion [post_excerpt] => The effects of violent video games on players are not clearly understood. Lamb et al. developed a computational model to study relationships between aggressive behavior and video game play. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => video-games-and-violence-a-continuing-discussion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-10 10:58:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-10 15:58:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.publichealthpost.org/?post_type=bu_research&p=6084 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => bu_research [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [view] => BUPHP_Post_View Object ( [multipage] => [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => BUPHP_Post Object *RECURSION* [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 ) [extra_args] => Array ( ) [owner] => [_trigger_error:WPLib_Base:private] => 1 )

The effects of violent video games on players are not clearly understood. Lamb et al. developed a computational model to study relationships between aggressive behavior and video game play.

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Research

We DID Start the Fire

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                    [post_date] => 2018-12-20 05:30:33
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-12-20 10:30:33
                    [post_content] => If our energy use continues to increase at the current rate and pace, our planet is predicted to heat up by an average of 2˚C (3.6˚F) by 2040. Using data gathered from NASA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Vox created a Weather 2050 map to demonstrate how temperatures across US cities will change over the next three decades.

The table below summarizes dramatic temperature increases predicted for US cities, leading to hotter summers and warmer winters. Temperature is both a reflection of and a main driving force behind climate. Warmer temperatures lead to warmer air, which leads to more evaporation and increases the amount of water vapor (precipitation) in the atmosphere. Together, precipitation and temperature impact climate patterns, causing water scarcity and drought in dry arid areas, and more extreme precipitation events in areas that are humid and moist.

Table showing change in average summer and winter high temperatures in LA, Houston, Chicago, and Boston

Fires are expected to increase, in frequency and intensity, as temperatures rise in hot and dry places. Western states, which are already experiencing devastating wildfires, can expect to see longer wildfire seasons. Between January to November in 2018, the US experienced over 52,000 wildfires that devastated 8.5 million acres of land and destroyed over 20,000 structures in California alone. Wildfires cause deaths, respiratory and mental health disorders, and increase pollution. Fire smoke and pollution increase the risk of low infant birth weight, worsen asthma, and raise the risk of stroke.

Areas along the Southern coast can expect to see increased intensity of hurricanes, as warming temperatures slow storm movement and increase rainfall. In 2017 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, causing catastrophic damage as it slowly trudged across the island at 9 mph, killing thousands of people and leaving large parts of the island without power for over a year. Drownings, residential displacement, increased mental stress, and vector-borne diseases are all hurricane-related health impacts that will intensify in the oncoming years.

Although most winters will become shorter, blizzards will intensify. In humid areas like Boston, warmer temperatures will evaporate more water in the air, increasing the intensity and longevity of nor’easters.

The summertime, however, is when we can expect to see the most damage. Heat waves are the number one predicted threat to city-dwelling residents, and cities in the Northeast can expect to see the greatest increases in temperature compared to the rest of the United States. Heat waves impact vulnerable populations the most, such as infants, the elderly, and homeless populations, who are less able to cool their core body temperatures at night and have less access to air conditioning. Heat waves cause dehydration, heat stroke, and death; they are a silent and unseen killer, as individuals often die alone, and cause of death is usually attributed to ‘stroke’ rather than ‘heat.’ Heat waves also increase the risk of causing a blackout from widespread use of AC units, placing whole cities at risk.

There is little question at this point that global temperatures will rise by 1.5˚C over the next decades, but do they need to go up as much as 2˚C by 2040, our ‘worst case scenario’ climate scenario? As individuals, there are actions we can take in addition to voting for environmentally-sustainable policies and the candidates who promote them. To reduce our carbon footprint and help prevent temperatures from increasing, we can invest in renewable energy, reduce our meat and animal consumption (especially beef and lamb), commute via ride share or public transportation, and incorporate sustainable practices into our everyday lives by turning off lights, turning down our heat, turning off our AC, and recycling.

It’s obvious what the public health implications of inaction are. If we don’t change course, our worst case scenario will become our daily life.

Feature image: Patrik Theander, Matches, used under CC BY-SA 2.0
                    [post_title] => We DID Start the Fire
                    [post_excerpt] => If our energy use increases at the current rate, dramatic temperature increases are predicted for US cities. 
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If our energy use increases at the current rate, dramatic temperature increases are predicted for US cities.

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