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This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a peer support intervention to encourage adoption and maintenance of a Mediterranean diet (MD) in established community groups where existing social support may assist the behaviour change process. Four established community groups with members at increased Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) risk and homogenous in gender were recruited and randomised to receive either a 12-month Peer Support (PS) intervention (PSG) (n 2) or a Minimal Support intervention (educational materials only) (MSG) (n 2). The feasibility of the intervention was assessed using recruitment and retention rates, assessing the variability of outcome measures (primary outcome: adoption of an MD at 6 months (using a Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS)) and process evaluation measures including qualitative interviews. Recruitment rates for community groups (n 4/8), participants (n 31/51) and peer supporters (n 6/14) were 50 %, 61 % and 43 %, respectively. The recruitment strategy faced several challenges with recruitment and retention of participants, leading to a smaller sample than intended. At 12 months, a 65 % and 76·5 % retention rate for PSG and MSG participants was observed, respectively. A > 2-point increase in MDS was observed in both the PSG and the MSG at 6 months, maintained at 12 months. An increase in MD adherence was evident in both groups during follow-up; however, the challenges faced in recruitment and retention suggest a definitive study of the peer support intervention using current methods is not feasible and refinement based on the current feasibility study should be incorporated. Lessons learned during the implementation of this intervention will help inform future interventions in this area.
Adhering to a Mediterranean diet (MD) is associated with reduced CVD risk. This study aimed to explore methods of increasing MD adoption in a non-Mediterranean population at high risk of CVD, including assessing the feasibility of a developed peer support intervention. The Trial to Encourage Adoption and Maintenance of a MEditerranean Diet was a 12-month pilot parallel group RCT involving individuals aged ≥ 40 year, with low MD adherence, who were overweight, and had an estimated CVD risk ≥ 20 % over ten years. It explored three interventions, a peer support group, a dietician-led support group and a minimal support group to encourage dietary behaviour change and monitored variability in Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS) over time and between the intervention groups, alongside measurement of markers of nutritional status and cardiovascular risk. 118 individuals were assessed for eligibility, and 75 (64 %) were eligible. After 12 months, there was a retention rate of 69 % (peer support group 59 %; DSG 88 %; MSG 63 %). For all participants, increases in MDS were observed over 12 months (P < 0·001), both in original MDS data and when imputed data were used. Improvements in BMI, HbA1c levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the population as a whole. This pilot study has demonstrated that a non-Mediterranean adult population at high CVD risk can make dietary behaviour change over a 12-month period towards an MD. The study also highlights the feasibility of a peer support intervention to encourage MD behaviour change amongst this population group and will inform a definitive trial.
Hospitalized coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients receiving antibiotics (n = 173) were retrospectively assigned to the early or late discontinuation groups. The length of therapy was shorter in the early discontinuation group (3 vs 7 days; P < .0001). Mortality rates (14.3% vs 20.7%; P = .316) and length of stay (7 vs 9 days; P = .063) were similar.
Given the aging population of people with HIV (PWH), along with increasing rates of binge drinking among both PWH and the general older adult population, this study examined the independent and interactive effects of HIV, binge drinking, and age on neurocognition.
Participants were 146 drinkers stratified by HIV and binge drinking status (i.e., ≥4 drinks for women and ≥5 drinks for men within approximately 2 h): HIV+/Binge+ (n = 30), HIV−/Binge+ (n = 23), HIV+/Binge− (n = 55), HIV−/Binge− (n = 38). All participants completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery measuring demographically-corrected global and domain-specific neurocognitive T scores. ANCOVA models examined independent and interactive effects of HIV and binge drinking on neurocognitive outcomes, adjusting for overall alcohol consumption, lifetime substance use, sex, and age. Subsequent multiple linear regressions examined whether HIV/Binge group moderated the relationship between age and neurocognition.
HIV+/Binge+ participants had worse global neurocognition, processing speed, delayed recall, and working memory than HIV−/Binge− participants (p’s < .05). While there were significant main effects of HIV and binge drinking, their interaction did not predict any of those neurocognitive outcomes (p’s > .05). Significant interactions between age and HIV/Binge group showed that HIV+/Binge+ participants demonstrated steeper negative relationships between age and neurocognitive outcomes of learning, delayed recall, and motor skills compared to HIV−/Binge− participants (p’s < .05).
Results showed adverse additive effects of HIV and binge drinking on neurocognitive functioning, with older adults demonstrating the most vulnerability to these effects. Findings support the need for interventions to reduce binge drinking, especially among older PWH.
Questions remain regarding whether genetic influences on early life psychopathology overlap with cognition and show developmental variation.
Using data from 9,421 individuals aged 8–21 from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, factors of psychopathology were generated using a bifactor model of item-level data from a psychiatric interview. Five orthogonal factors were generated: anxious-misery (mood and anxiety), externalizing (attention deficit hyperactivity and conduct disorder), fear (phobias), psychosis-spectrum, and a general factor. Genetic analyses were conducted on a subsample of 4,662 individuals of European American ancestry. A genetic relatedness matrix was used to estimate heritability of these factors, and genetic correlations with executive function, episodic memory, complex reasoning, social cognition, motor speed, and general cognitive ability. Gene × Age analyses determined whether genetic influences on these factors show developmental variation.
Externalizing was heritable (h2 = 0.46, p = 1 × 10−6), but not anxious-misery (h2 = 0.09, p = 0.183), fear (h2 = 0.04, p = 0.337), psychosis-spectrum (h2 = 0.00, p = 0.494), or general psychopathology (h2 = 0.21, p = 0.040). Externalizing showed genetic overlap with face memory (ρg = −0.412, p = 0.004), verbal reasoning (ρg = −0.485, p = 0.001), spatial reasoning (ρg = −0.426, p = 0.010), motor speed (ρg = 0.659, p = 1x10−4), verbal knowledge (ρg = −0.314, p = 0.002), and general cognitive ability (g)(ρg = −0.394, p = 0.002). Gene × Age analyses revealed decreasing genetic variance (γg = −0.146, p = 0.004) and increasing environmental variance (γe = 0.059, p = 0.009) on externalizing.
Cognitive impairment may be a useful endophenotype of externalizing psychopathology and, therefore, help elucidate its pathophysiological underpinnings. Decreasing genetic variance suggests that gene discovery efforts may be more fruitful in children than adolescents or young adults.
Ecosystem modeling, a pillar of the systems ecology paradigm (SEP), addresses questions such as, how much carbon and nitrogen are cycled within ecological sites, landscapes, or indeed the earth system? Or how are human activities modifying these flows? Modeling, when coupled with field and laboratory studies, represents the essence of the SEP in that they embody accumulated knowledge and generate hypotheses to test understanding of ecosystem processes and behavior. Initially, ecosystem models were primarily used to improve our understanding about how biophysical aspects of ecosystems operate. However, current ecosystem models are widely used to make accurate predictions about how large-scale phenomena such as climate change and management practices impact ecosystem dynamics and assess potential effects of these changes on economic activity and policy making. In sum, ecosystem models embedded in the SEP remain our best mechanism to integrate diverse types of knowledge regarding how the earth system functions and to make quantitative predictions that can be confronted with observations of reality. Modeling efforts discussed are the Century ecosystem model, DayCent ecosystem model, Grassland Ecosystem Model ELM, food web models, Savanna model, agent-based and coupled systems modeling, and Bayesian modeling.
The systems ecology paradigm (SEP) is presented as the right science and analytical approach at the right time for resolving many of the Earth’s natural resource, environmental, and societal challenges. SEP embodies two major parts. One, the systems ecology approach, which is the holistic, systems thinking perspective and methodology developed for the rigorous study of ecosystems, including humans. Two, the use of ecosystem science, the vast body of scientific knowledge, much of which has been assembled using the ecosystem and systems ecology approaches. The fundamental philosophy, evolution, and application of the SEP are defined in this chapter. The organizing principles of the SEP include: many problems are complex and complicated and may have multiple causes; precise definitions of problems and their spatial, temporal, and organizational hierarchical scales are critical; collaborative decision making including scientists, technical and administrative staff members, and essential stakeholders is essential; transparent, honest, and effective communication is required; globalization of collaboration within interdisciplinary networks has been a hallmark of the paradigm; and integration of simulation modeling, field and laboratory studies has proven indispensable for many scientific breakthroughs. A call for integration of transdisciplinary science, policy making, and management is presented.
Ecosystem science and the systems ecology paradigm co-evolved starting in the late 1960s within the milieu of substantial research funding from the US National Science Foundation-supported US International Biological Program (IBP). Nationally, educational programs focusing on ecosystem structure and functioning, and mathematical modeling, were slow to develop except at Colorado State University (CSU). There, leaders in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) and the Department of Range Science (DRS) established internationally recognized interdisciplinary programs and outreach in basic and applied ecosystem science and systems ecology. Operating from the sound research base within a major Land Grant University (CSU), the NREL, with IBP funding, supported many graduate students housed in the academic DRS. As the systems ecology approach expanded, other ecosystem-focused research programs developed, and graduate students entered other academic departments. Outgrowths from the early diffused educational training were innovative cross-departmental and cross-college programs addressing the systems ecology paradigm. Recently, a new Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability was established housing both graduate and undergraduate programs. As formal academic training developed on-campus, environmental literacy efforts were developed, including: training programs for K-12 students and teachers; online distance education programs; Citizen Science training; and numerous institutes, short courses, and workshops.