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Expressive writing requires journaling stressor-related thoughts and feelings over four daily sessions of 15 min. Thirty years of research have popularized expressive writing as a brief intervention for fostering trauma-related resilience; however, its ability to surpass placebo remains unclear. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of expressive writing for improving post-traumatic stress symptoms in perinatal women who were living in the Houston area during major flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.
A total of 1090 women were randomly allocated (1:1:1) to expressive writing, neutral writing or no writing. Interventions were internet-based. Online questionnaires were completed before randomization and at 2 months post-intervention. The primary outcome was post-traumatic stress symptoms, measured with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised; secondary outcomes were affective symptoms, measured with the 40-item Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Scales. Feelings throughout the intervention were reported daily using tailored questionnaires.
In intention-to-treat analyses, no post-treatment between-group differences were found on the primary and secondary outcomes. Per-protocol analyses yielded similar results. A number of putative moderators were tested, but none interacted with expressive writing. Expressive writing produced greater feelings of anxiety and sadness during the intervention compared to neutral writing; further, overall experiences from the intervention mediated associations between expressive writing and greater post-traumatic stress at 2 months post-intervention.
Among disaster-stricken perinatal women, expressive writing was ineffective in reducing levels of post-traumatic stress, and may have exacerbated these symptoms in some.
Natural and anthropogenic stressors, including parasites and pesticides, may induce oxidative stress in animals. Measuring oxidative stress responses in sentinel species that are particularly responsive to environmental perturbations not only provides insight into host physiology but is also a useful readout of ecosystem health. Newly metamorphosed northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens), a sentinel species, were collected from agricultural and non-agricultural wetlands exposed to varying concentrations of the herbicide atrazine. Significant effects of certain parasites' abundance and their interaction with atrazine exposure on frog oxidative stress were identified. Specifically, increased protein levels were detected in frogs infected with echinostome metacercariae. In addition, the nematode Oswaldocruzia sp. was significantly associated with increased thiol concentration and catalase activity. Significant parasite × atrazine interactions were observed for atrazine exposure and the abundance of Oswaldocruzia sp. on thiol, as thiol concentrations increased with parasite abundance at low atrazine localities and decreased in high atrazine wetlands. In addition, a significant interaction between the abundances of Oswaldocruzia sp. and gorgoderid trematodes on thiol concentrations was observed. These findings demonstrate that studies of oxidative stress on animals in natural ecosystems should account for the confounding effects of parasitism, particularly for amphibians in agricultural landscapes.
Clinical assessments are a primary method for ascertaining suicide risk, yet the language used across measures is inconsistent. The implications of these discrepancies for adolescent responding are unknown, which is troubling as multiple research areas (i.e. on culture, mental health language, and suicide communication) indicate individuals from varying sociodemographic backgrounds may communicate differently regarding mental health concerns. The aims of the current study are to investigate whether a geographically diverse sample of adolescents respond differently to directly and indirectly phrased suicide attempt questions (i.e. directly phrased includes the term ‘suicide’ and indirectly asks about suicidal behavior without using ‘suicide’), and to examine whether sociodemographic factors and history of mental health service usage relate to endorsement differences.
Participants were N = 5909 adolescents drawn from the Emergency Department Screening for Teens at Risk for Suicide multi-site study. The lifetime suicide attempt was assessed with two items from an adapted version of the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS; Posner et al., 2008): (1) a directly phrased question asking about ‘suicide attempts’ and (2) an indirectly phrased question providing the definition of an attempt.
An adolescent majority (83.7%) consistently reported no lifetime suicide attempt across items, 10.1% consistently reported one or more lifetime attempts across items, and 6.2% of adolescents responded discordantly to the items.
Multivariable models indicated multiple demographic and mental health service variables significantly predicted discordant responding, with a notable finding being that father/stepfather education level at or below high school education predicted endorsing only the direct question.
The perinatal period is a vulnerable time for the development of psychopathology, particularly mood and anxiety disorders. In the study of maternal anxiety, important questions remain regarding the association between maternal anxiety symptoms and subsequent child outcomes. This study examined the association between depressive and anxiety symptoms, namely social anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia disorder symptoms during the perinatal period and maternal perception of child behavior, specifically different facets of development and temperament. Participants (N = 104) were recruited during pregnancy from a community sample. Participants completed clinician-administered and self-report measures of depressive and anxiety symptoms during the third trimester of pregnancy and at 16 months postpartum; child behavior and temperament outcomes were assessed at 16 months postpartum. Child development areas included gross and fine motor skills, language and problem-solving abilities, and personal/social skills. Child temperament domains included surgency, negative affectivity, and effortful control. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that elevated prenatal social anxiety symptoms significantly predicted more negative maternal report of child behavior across most measured domains. Elevated prenatal social anxiety and panic symptoms predicted more negative maternal report of child effortful control. Depressive and agoraphobia symptoms were not significant predictors of child outcomes. Elevated anxiety symptoms appear to have a distinct association with maternal report of child development and temperament. Considering the relative influence of anxiety symptoms, particularly social anxiety, on maternal report of child behavior and temperament can help to identify potential difficulties early on in mother–child interactions as well as inform interventions for women and their families.
Cyclonic storms (often called hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones) often cause population declines in vulnerable bird species, and the intensity of these storms appears to be increasing due to climate change. Prior studies have reported short-term impacts of hurricanes on avifauna, but few have examined long-term impacts. Over two decades (1993–2018), we periodically surveyed a subspecies of West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris nyeanus on San Salvador, a small island in The Bahamas, to determine its distribution on the island, habitat use, and effects of hurricanes on abundance and population size. We conducted passive and playback surveys, supplemented with mist-netting. Woodpeckers were found only in the northern part of San Salvador, despite extensive surveys throughout other accessible areas of the island. Birds occupied areas with taller coppice adjacent to sabal palm Sabal palmetto groves, which were used for nesting. After hurricanes with >160 kph winds passed over San Salvador, woodpecker densities declined to 35–40% of pre-hurricane densities, but generally recovered back to pre-hurricane densities within 2–3 years. Based on an estimated density of woodpeckers within a ~1,400 ha occupied area, we calculated a population size of approximately 240 individuals (CI = 68-408). However, the population declined to far lower numbers immediately following hurricanes. Under IUCN Red List criteria, M. s. nyeanus classifies as ‘Critically Endangered’, and could be especially sensitive to future hurricanes if they occur at a high enough frequency or intensity to prevent the population from rebounding. Given the small size, isolation, and vulnerability of this population, we recommend preservation of the core habitat, continued monitoring, and further research. Our study shows that small, threatened bird populations can be resilient to the effects of hurricanes, but increased intensity of hurricanes, in combination with other threats, may limit this resilience in the future.
A total of 38 long-term care facilities within a region participated in a 3-month quality improvement initiative focused on environmental cleaning and disinfection. Significant improvements in daily and discharge cleaning were observed during the project period. Further study of the sustainability and clinical impact of this type of initiative is warranted.
We report a significant advance in thermally insulating transparent materials: silica-based monoliths with controlled porosity which exhibit the transparency of windows in combination with a thermal conductivity comparable to aerogels.
The lack of transparent, thermally insulating windows leads to substantial heat loss in commercial and residential buildings, which accounts for ~4.2% of primary US energy consumption annually. The present study provides a potential solution to this problem by demonstrating that ambiently dried silica aerogel monoliths, i.e., ambigels, can simultaneously achieve high optical transparency and low thermal conductivity without supercritical drying. A combination of tetraethoxysilane, methyltriethoxysilane, and post-gelation surface modification precursors were used to synthesize ambiently dried materials with varying pore fractions and pore sizes. By controlling the synthesis and processing conditions, 0.5–3 mm thick mesoporous monoliths with transmittance >95% and a thermal conductivity of 0.04 W/(m K) were produced. A narrow pore size distribution, <15 nm, led to the excellent transparency and low haze, while porosity in excess of 80% resulted in low thermal conductivity. A thermal transport model considering fractal dimension and phonon-boundary scattering is proposed to explain the low effective thermal conductivity measured. This work offers new insights into the design of transparent, energy saving windows.
Despite the availability of more than 20 antiseizure drugs (ASDs) for the treatment of epilepsy, up to 30% of patients continue to experience disabling seizures and are classified as having medically refractory epilepsy (MRE).1 Some patients with MRE are candidates for resective surgery or other palliative interventions, such as disconnection therapies (callosotomy or subpial transections).2 Unfortunately, the majority of refractory patients are not candidates for these surgical options due to having multifocal epileptogenic foci, foci localized to an eloquent brain area or because the focus cannot be adequately localized.3,4 For some of these patients, stimulation therapy (also known as neuromodulation) is an alternative palliative treatment option. This chapter will review the different neuromodulation modalities that are available as adjunctive treatment of MRE. The impact of neuromodulation on sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) will be explored in the final section.
Annually dated tree-rings of 509 live and deadwood limber pine (Pinus flexilis) samples from the semi-arid Wassuk Range, Nevada, yielded a 3996-yr record extending from 1983 BC to AD 2013. Correlations of radial growth with climate were positive for water relations and negative for summer temperatures. Long-term trends of ring-width corresponded to climate variability documented from other proxies, including low growth during the Late Holocene Dry Period and Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and elevated growth during cool, wet periods of the Neoglacial and Little Ice Age. Spline fit of the data indicated that growth decrease in the last 20 years was second lowest on record, surpassed by lowest growth at 20 BC—AD 150. Demographics of limber pine by aspect and elevation were not strongly related to long-term climate dynamics, except in the case of extirpations on all but north aspects at the end of the MCA. Pines occurred persistently on north aspects, where a continuous record existed to present. Elevation shifts were not obvious on any aspect, and no evidence existed for migration above current treeline. Non-climatic factors appear to interact with climate to make north slopes refugial for upland pines in semi-arid regions across four millennia.
Intermittent energy restriction (IER) involves short periods of severe energy restriction interspersed with periods of adequate energy intake, and can induce weight loss. Insulin sensitivity is impaired by short-term, complete energy restriction, but the effects of IER are not well known. In randomised order, fourteen lean men (age: 25 (sd 4) years; BMI: 24 (sd 2) kg/m2; body fat: 17 (4) %) consumed 24-h diets providing 100 % (10 441 (sd 812) kJ; energy balance (EB)) or 25 % (2622 (sd 204) kJ; energy restriction (ER)) of estimated energy requirements, followed by an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT; 75 g of glucose drink) after fasting overnight. Plasma/serum glucose, insulin, NEFA, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) were assessed before and after (0 h) each 24-h dietary intervention, and throughout the 2-h OGTT. Homoeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA2-IR) assessed the fasted response and incremental AUC (iAUC) or total AUC (tAUC) were calculated during the OGTT. At 0 h, HOMA2-IR was 23 % lower after ER compared with EB (P<0·05). During the OGTT, serum glucose iAUC (P<0·001), serum insulin iAUC (P<0·05) and plasma NEFA tAUC (P<0·01) were greater during ER, but GLP-1 (P=0·161), GIP (P=0·473) and FGF21 (P=0·497) tAUC were similar between trials. These results demonstrate that severe energy restriction acutely impairs postprandial glycaemic control in lean men, despite reducing HOMA2-IR. Chronic intervention studies are required to elucidate the long-term effects of IER on indices of insulin sensitivity, particularly in the absence of weight loss.
The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of the serotonin transporter has been shown to play a role in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Moreover, disaster-related prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) has also been shown to be associated with ASD. However, no study to date has examined whether these two factors, either individually or in combination, are predictive of ASD traits in the same sample. We hypothesized that children, particularly boys, with the LL genotype exposed to high levels of disaster-related PNMS would exhibit higher levels of ASD traits compared to boys with the LS or SS genotypes and girls regardless of genotype. Genotype and ASD levels obtained using the Australian normed Autism Spectrum Rating Scales – Short Form were available for 105 30-month-old children exposed to varying levels of PNMS following the 2011 Queensland Flood. For boys, higher ASD traits were associated with the 5-HTTLPR LL genotype in combination with either a negative maternal appraisal of the flood, or high levels of maternal composite subjective stress, PSTD-like or peritraumatic dissociation symptoms. For girls, maternal peritraumatic dissociation levels in combination with the 5-HTTLPR LS or SS genotype were associated with higher ASD traits. The present findings are the first to demonstrate that children’s genotype moderates effects of disaster-related PNMS on ASD traits, with different pattern according to child sex.
Prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) has been associated with postnatal behavioral alterations that may be partly explained by interactions between the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axes. Yet it remains unclear whether PNMS leads to enduring HPA–HPG alterations in the offspring, and whether HPA–HPG interactions can impact behavior during development, in particular levels of aggression in childhood. Here we investigated the relationship between a marker for HPG axis function (baseline testosterone) and a marker for HPA axis response (cortisol area under the curve) in 11½-year-olds whose mothers were exposed to the 1998 Quebec ice storm during pregnancy (n = 59 children; 31 boys, 28 girls). We examined (a) whether the degree of objective or subjective PNMS regulates the testosterone–cortisol relationship at age 11½, and (b) whether this testosterone–cortisol relationship is associated with differences in aggressive behavior. We found that, at lower levels of subjective PNMS, baseline testosterone and cortisol reactivity were positively correlated; in contrast, there was no relationship between these hormones at higher levels of subjective PNMS. Cortisol response moderated the relationship between testosterone and aggression. These results support the notion PNMS may explain variance in fetal HPA–HPG interactions, and that these interactions may be associated with aggressive behavior in late childhood.
To develop and validate a child and adolescent version of the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (CTFEQr17) and to assess its psychometric properties and factor structure. We also examined associations between the CTFEQr17 and BMI and food preferences.
A two-phase approach was utilized, employing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
Primary and secondary schools, UK.
In phase 1, seventy-six children (thirty-nine boys; mean age 12·3 (sd 1·4) years) were interviewed to ascertain their understanding of the original TFEQr21 and to develop accessible and understandable items to create the CTFEQr17. In phase 2, 433 children (230 boys; mean age 12·0 (sd 1·7) years) completed the CTFEQr17 and a food preference questionnaire, a sub-sample (n 253; 131 boys) had their height and weight measured, and forty-five children (twenty-three boys) were interviewed to determine their understanding of the CTFEQr17.
The CTFEQr17 showed good internal consistency (Cronbach’s α=0·85) and the three-factor structure was retained: cognitive restraint (CR), uncontrolled eating (UE) and emotional eating (EE). Qualitative data demonstrated a high level of understanding of the questionnaire (95 %). High CR was found to be significantly associated with a higher body weight, BMI and BMI percentile. High UE and EE scores were related to a preference for high-fat savoury and high-fat sweet foods. The relationships between CTFEQr17, anthropometry and food preferences were stronger for girls than boys.
The CTFEQr17 is a psychometrically sound questionnaire for use in children and adolescents, and associated with anthropometric and food preference measures.
Collaborative programs have helped reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) rates in community-based nursing homes. We assessed whether collaborative participation produced similar benefits among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) nursing homes, which are part of an integrated system.
This study included 63 VHA nursing homes enrolled in the “AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care,” which focused on practices to reduce CAUTI.
Changes in CAUTI rates, catheter utilization, and urine culture orders were assessed from June 2015 through May 2016. Multilevel mixed-effects negative binomial regression was used to derive incidence rate ratios (IRRs) representing changes over the 12-month program period.
There was no significant change in CAUTI among VHA sites, with a CAUTI rate of 2.26 per 1,000 catheter days at month 1 and a rate of 3.19 at month 12 (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67–1.44). Results were similar for catheter utilization rates, which were 11.02% at month 1 and 11.30% at month 12 (IRR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.95–1.09). The numbers of urine cultures per 1,000 residents were 5.27 in month 1 and 5.31 in month 12 (IRR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.82–1.05).
No changes in CAUTI rates, catheter use, or urine culture orders were found during the program period. One potential reason was the relatively low baseline CAUTI rate, as compared with a cohort of community-based nursing homes. This low baseline rate is likely related to the VHA’s prior CAUTI prevention efforts. While broad-scale collaborative approaches may be effective in some settings, targeting higher-prevalence safety issues may be warranted at sites already engaged in extensive infection prevention efforts.