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Early career investigators have few opportunities for targeted training in supportive oncology research. To address this need, we developed, implemented, and evaluated an intensive, six-day workshop on methods in supportive oncology research for trainees and junior faculty across multiple disciplines.
A multidisciplinary team of supportive oncology researchers developed a workshop patterned after the clinical trials workshop offered jointly by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association of Cancer Research. The curriculum included lectures and a mentored experience of writing a research protocol. Each year since 2015, the workshop has accepted and trained 36 early career investigators. Over the course of the workshop, participants present sections of their research protocols daily in small groups led by senior researchers, and have dedicated time to write and revise these sections. Primary outcomes for the workshop included the frequency of completed protocols by the end of the workshop, a pre- and posttest assessing participant knowledge, and follow-up surveys of the participants and their primary mentors.
Over three years, the workshop received 195 applications; 109 early career researchers were competitively selected to participate. All participants (109/109, 100%) completed writing a protocol by the end of their workshop. Participants and their primary mentors reported significant improvements in their research knowledge and skills. Each year, participants rated the workshop highly in terms of satisfaction, value, and likelihood of recommending it to a colleague. One year after the first workshop, most respondents (29/30, 96.7%) had either submitted their protocol or written at least one other protocol.
Significance of results
We developed a workshop on research methods in supportive oncology. More early career investigators applied for the workshop than capacity, and the workshop was fully attended each year. Both the workshop participants and their primary mentors reported improvement in research skills and knowledge.
Objectives: The Internet is a fundamental tool for completing many different instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), including shopping and banking. Persons with HIV−associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) are at heightened risk for IADL problems, but the extent to which HAND interferes with the performance of Internet-based household IADLs is not known. Methods: Ninety-three individuals with HIV disease, 43 of whom were diagnosed with HAND, and 42 HIV− comparison participants completed Internet-based tests of shopping and banking. Participants used mock credentials to log in to an experimenter-controlled Web site and independently performed a series of typical online shopping (e.g., purchasing household goods) and banking (e.g., transferring funds between accounts) tasks. Results: Individuals with HAND were significantly more likely to fail the online shopping task than neurocognitively normal HIV+ and HIV− participants. HAND was also associated with poorer overall performance versus HIV+ normals on the online banking task. In the HAND group, Internet-based task scores were correlated with episodic memory, executive functions, motor skills, and numeracy. In the HIV+ sample as a whole, lower Internet-based task scores were uniquely associated with poorer performance-based functional capacity and self-reported declines in shopping and financial management in daily life, but not with global manifest functional status. Conclusions: Findings indicate that HAND is associated with difficulties in using the Internet to complete important household everyday functioning tasks. The development and validation of effective Internet training and compensatory strategies may help to improve the household management of persons with HAND. (JINS, 2017, 23, 605–615)
Objectives: Episodic memory deficits are both common and impactful among persons infected with HIV; however, we know little about how to improve such deficits in the laboratory or in real life. Retrieval practice, by which retrieval of newly learned material improves subsequent recall more than simple restudy, is a robust memory boosting strategy that is effective in both healthy and clinical populations. In this study, we investigated the benefits of retrieval practice in 52 people living with HIV and 21 seronegatives. Methods: In a within-subjects design, all participants studied 48 verbal paired associates in 3 learning conditions: Massed-Restudy, Spaced-Restudy, and Spaced-Testing. Retention of verbal paired associates was assessed after short- (30 min) and long- (30 days) delay intervals. Results: After a short delay, both HIV+ persons and seronegatives benefited from retrieval practice more so than massed and spaced restudy. The same pattern of results was observed specifically for HIV+ persons with clinical levels of memory impairment. The long-term retention interval data evidenced a floor effect that precluded further analysis. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that retrieval practice improves verbal episodic memory more than some other mnemonic strategies among HIV+ persons. (JINS, 2017, 23, 214–222)
Objectives: Neuropsychological studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have revealed deficits in attention/working memory, processing speed, executive functioning, and retrospective memory. However, little is known about prospective memory (PM) in PTSD, a clinically relevant aspect of episodic memory that supports the encoding and retrieval of intentions for future actions. Methods: Here we examined PM performance in 40 veterans with PTSD compared to 38 trauma comparison (TC) veterans who were exposed to combat but did not develop PTSD. All participants were administered the Memory for Intentions Test (MIST; Raskin, Buckheit, & Sherrod, 2010), a standardized and validated measure of PM, alongside a comprehensive neurocognitive battery, structured diagnostic interviews for psychiatric conditions, and behavioral questionnaires. Results: Veterans with PTSD performed moderately lower than TC on time-based PM, with errors primarily characterized as PM failure errors (i.e., omissions). However, groups did not differ in event-based PM, ongoing task performance, or post-test recognition of PM intentions for each trial. Lower time-based PM performance was specifically related to hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. Time-based-performance was also associated with neuropsychological measures of retrospective memory and executive functions in the PTSD group. Nevertheless, PTSD was significantly associated with poorer PM above and beyond age and performance in retrospective memory and executive functions. Discussion: Results provide initial evidence of PM dysfunction in PTSD, especially in strategic monitoring during time-based PM tasks. Findings have potential implications for everyday functioning and health behaviors in persons with PTSD, and deserve replication and future study. (JINS, 2016, 22, 724–734)
The ability to accurately perceive the passage of time relies on several neurocognitive abilities, including attention, memory, and executive functions, which are domains commonly affected in persons living with HIV disease. The current study examined time estimation and production and their neurocognitive correlates in a sample of 53 HIV+ individuals with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), 120 HIV+ individuals without HAND, and 113 HIV− individuals. Results revealed a moderate main effect of HAND on time estimation and a trend-level effect on time production, but no interaction between HAND and time interval duration. Correlational analyses revealed that time estimation in the HIV+ group was associated with attention, episodic memory and time-based prospective memory. Findings indicate that individuals with HAND evidence deficits in time interval judgment suggestive of failures in basic attentional and memory processes. (JINS, 2015, 21, 175–181)
The current study sought to examine the utility of intra-individual variability (IIV) in distinguishing participants with prodromal Huntington disease (HD) from nongene-expanded controls. IIV across 15 neuropsychological tasks and within-task IIV using a self-paced timing task were compared as a single measure of processing speed (Symbol Digit Modalities Test [SDMT]) in 693 gene-expanded and 191 nongene-expanded participants from the PREDICT-HD study. After adjusting for depressive symptoms and motor functioning, individuals estimated to be closest to HD diagnosis displayed higher levels of across- and within-task variability when compared to controls and those prodromal HD participants far from disease onset (FICV(3,877)=11.25; p<.0001; FPacedTiming(3,877)=22.89; p<.0001). When prodromal HD participants closest to HD diagnosis were compared to controls, Cohen’s d effect sizes were larger in magnitude for the within-task variability measure, paced timing (−1.01), and the SDMT (−0.79) and paced tapping coefficient of variation (CV) (−0.79) compared to the measures of across-task variability [CV (0.55); intra-individual standard deviation (0.26)]. Across-task variability may be a sensitive marker of cognitive decline in individuals with prodromal HD approaching disease onset. However, individual neuropsychological tasks, including a measure of within-task variability, produced larger effect sizes than an index of across-task IIV in this sample. (JINS, 2015, 21, 8–21)
Two experiments were conducted to examine the effects of task importance on event-based prospective memory (PM) in separate samples of adults with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and HIV-infected young adults with substance use disorders (SUD). All participants completed three conditions of an ongoing lexical decision task: (1) without PM task requirements; (2) with PM task requirements that emphasized the importance of the ongoing task; and (3) with PM task requirements that emphasized the importance of the PM task. In both experiments, all HIV+ groups showed the expected increase in response costs to the ongoing task when the PM task’s importance was emphasized. In Experiment 1, individuals with HAND showed significantly lower PM accuracy as compared to HIV+ subjects without HAND when the importance of the ongoing task was emphasized, but improved significantly and no longer differed from HIV+ subjects without HAND when the PM task was emphasized. A similar pattern of findings emerged in Experiment 2, whereby HIV+ young adults with SUD (especially cannabis) showed significant improvements in PM accuracy when the PM task was emphasized. Findings suggest that both HAND and SUD may increase the amount of cognitive attentional resources that need to be allocated to support PM performance in persons living with HIV infection. (JINS, 2014, 21, 1–11)
Prospective memory (PM) is dependent on executive processes known to be impaired in Huntington's disease (HD); however, no study to the authors’ knowledge has investigated PM in this group. We examined performance-based, semi-naturalistic, and self-reported PM in 20 individuals diagnosed with mild–moderate HD and 20 demographically similar controls. Relative to controls, HD participants demonstrated significantly lower scores in time-based PM, event-based PM (at a trend level), and the semi-naturalistic PM trial, all of which were marked by omission errors. HD participants demonstrated comparable recognition memory for the PM intentions relative to controls. HD and control participants also showed comparable scores in self-reported PM complaints. The results suggest that HD is associated with deficits in the strategic aspects of PM. HD-associated PM deficits also are evident in real-world situations, which may relate to an apparent meta-memory deficit for PM functioning as indicated by HD participants’ overestimation of their PM performance on self-report. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1–8)
To compare food choices and nutrient intakes of pupils taking a school lunch or a packed lunch in eighty secondary schools in England, following the introduction of the food-based and nutrient-based standards for school food.
Cross-sectional data collected between October 2010 and April 2011. Pupils’ lunchtime food choices were recorded over five consecutive days.
Secondary schools, England.
A random selection of 5925 pupils having school lunches and 1805 pupils having a packed lunch in a nationally representative sample of eighty secondary schools in England.
The differences in the specific types of food and drink consumed by the two groups of pupils are typical of differences between a hot and cold meal. On average, school lunches as eaten contained significantly more energy, carbohydrate, protein, fibre, vitamin A, folate, Fe and Zn than packed lunches, and 8 % less Na.
Although neither school lunches nor packed lunches provided the balance of nutrients required to meet the nutrient-based standards (based on about one-third of daily energy and nutrient requirements), school lunches generally had a healthier nutrient profile, with lower Na and percentage of energy from fat, and higher fibre and micronutrient content. These differences were greater than those reported prior to the introduction of compulsory standards for school lunches. In order to ensure more pupils have a healthy lunch, schools could introduce and enforce a packed lunch policy or make school meals the only option at lunchtime.
Sensorimotor inhibition, or the ability to filter out excessive or irrelevant information, theoretically supports a variety of higher-level cognitive functions. Impaired inhibition may be associated with increased impulsive and risky behavior in everyday life. Individuals infected with HIV frequently show impairment on tests of neurocognitive function, but sensorimotor inhibition in this population has not been studied and may be a contributor to the profile of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Thirty-seven HIV-infected individuals (15 with HAND) and 48 non-infected comparison subjects were assessed for prepulse inhibition (PPI), an eyeblink startle paradigm measuring sensorimotor gating. Although HIV status alone was not associated with PPI deficits, HIV-positive participants meeting criteria for HAND showed impaired PPI compared to cognitively intact HIV-positive subjects. In HIV-positive subjects, PPI was correlated with working memory but was not associated with antiretroviral therapy or illness factors. In conclusion, sensorimotor disinhibition in HIV accompanies deficits in higher-order cognitive functions, although the causal direction of this relationship requires investigation. Subsequent research on the role of sensorimotor gating on decision-making and risk behaviors in HIV may be indicated. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–9)
Deficits in prospective memory (PM; i.e., enacting previously learned actions at the right occasion) and risky decision-making (i.e., making choices with a high chance of undesirable/dangerous outcomes) are both common among individuals with substance use disorders (SUD). Previous research has raised the possibility of a specific relationship between PM and risk-taking, and the present study aimed to systematically study if PM provides unique variance in the prediction of risky decision-making. Two samples were included: (1) a group of 45 individuals with SUD currently in treatment, and (2) a nonclinical group of 59 university students with high-risk drinking and/or substance use. Regression analyses indicated that time-based, but not event-based, PM predicted increased risky behavior (e.g., risky sexual practices and criminal behaviors) in both groups after controlling for demographic, psychiatric, and substance use variables, as well as other neuropsychological functions. The current findings contribute to the growing literature supporting the role of PM as a predictor of everyday functioning, and suggest that cognitive rehabilitation may be an important avenue of research as an adjunct to traditional substance use treatment, particularly in addressing the potential adverse effects of PM deficits in the implementation of treatment-related homework activities and risk management strategies. (JINS, 2013, 19, 1–11)