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Research suggests that religious/spiritual (R/S) matters take on increasing importance in later life and tend to be favorably associated with mental health, but religious doubt or uncertainty can undermine this salubrious relationship. Few studies assess whether social relationships, and the support contained within them, can mitigate these negative mental health consequences. The current study focuses on an important yet understudied social relationship in the context of spiritual struggles in later life: informal support from a religious pastor. Members of the clergy occupy a highly prestigious position in the church and are often a trusted resource for older adults as they confront problems.
We use two waves of longitudinal data of Christian older adults in the Religion, Health, and Aging Study (2001–2004) from the United States (N = 639) to test whether support from a pastor attenuates any detrimental mental health effects of carrying religious doubt in later life.
Results from lagged dependent variable models suggest that increases in religious doubt are associated with increases in depression over time, and that greater pastoral support attenuates the relationship between increases in religious doubt and depression, but only for men.
We highlight the need for future research to explore this important social relationship with religious clergy for older adults in confronting both spiritual and secular challenges and the importance of considering gender differences in the process. We also suggest several practical implications for religious clergy, family members, and older adults in dealing with or helping others confront spiritual struggles.
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.
Replacing missing teeth alone is not enough to engender dietary behaviour change amongst older adults. Whilst there is a body of evidence to support oral rehabilitation in conjunction with dietary advice, this is currently limited to edentate patients even though the majority of older adults are now partially dentate. One approach proven to change long-term food behaviours but is novel in this population is habit-formation. Consequently, this study developed and tested a habit-based tailored dietary intervention, in conjunction with oral rehabilitation amongst partially dentate older adults.
Materials and methods
A pilot randomised control trial was conducted on 57 partially dentate older patients. Participants were randomised to an intervention group (habits-based dietary intervention) or a control group and followed up for 8 months. The intervention group attended four meetings with a trained researcher to target habit-formation around 3 dietary domains (fruit/vegetables, wholegrains, healthy proteins). The primary outcome measure was self-reported automaticity for developing healthy habits and habit formation was assessed using the Self-Report Behavioural Automaticity Index (SRBAI). Preliminary analysis was conducted on n = 36 participants between baseline and 8 month follow up.
Preliminary results showed that SRBAI scores and self-reported frequency of days doing habits in the intervention group for all tailored dietary habits was significant between baseline and follow up visits (p < 0.001). There were moderate positive correlations between automaticity and habit adherence (Fruit/vegetables rho = 0.43, p = 0.09: Wholegrains rho = 0.44, p = 0.08: Healthy Proteins rho = 0.52, p = 0.03) for the intervention group. Automaticity trends were increased in the intervention group for all 3 dietary habits compared to the control group but, other than wholegrain (p = 0.005), between group differences were non-significant (p > 0.05). BMI decreased in the intervention group (29.6 to 28.7 kg/m2) compared to a non-significant increase in the control group (27.7 to 27.8 kg/m2) (p = 0.08). There were slight increases in Mini Nutritional Assessment mean change scores (0.19 intervention: 0.32 control) for both groups, however between-group differences were not statistically significant (p = 0.9). Greater improvements in food intake around dietary habits were observed in the intervention group (Fruit/vegetables:108 g Fibre 4g: Protein 11g) compared to the control group (Fruit/vegetables -17g: Fibre 2g: Protein -4g).
Preliminary results demonstrate the success of a habit-based dietary intervention coupled with oral rehabilitation in positively influencing dietary behaviours and other nutritional outcomes in partially dentate older adults.
Mobile devices with health apps, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, crowd-sourced information, and other data sources have enabled research by new classes of researchers. Independent researchers, citizen scientists, patient-directed researchers, self-experimenters, and others are not covered by federal research regulations because they are not recipients of federal financial assistance or conducting research in anticipation of a submission to the FDA for approval of a new drug or medical device. This article addresses the difficult policy challenge of promoting the welfare and interests of research participants, as well as the public, in the absence of regulatory requirements and without discouraging independent, innovative scientific inquiry. The article recommends a series of measures, including education, consultation, transparency, self-governance, and regulation to strike the appropriate balance.
Misperception of social norms may result in normalising unhealthy behaviours. The present study tested the hypothesis that parents overestimate both the frequency of unhealthy snacking in pre-school children other than their own (descriptive norms) and its acceptability to other parents (injunctive norms).
A cross-sectional, self-report community survey. Questions assessed the frequency with which respondents’ own child ate unhealthy snacks and their beliefs about the appropriate frequency for children to snack. Perceived descriptive norms were assessed by asking parents to estimate how often other 2–4 year-old children in their area ate snacks. Perceived injunctive norms were assessed by asking them about other parents’ beliefs regarding the appropriate frequency for snacks. Misperceptions were assessed from (i) the difference between the prevalence of daily snacking and parents’ perceived prevalence and (ii) the difference between acceptability of daily snacking and parents’ beliefs about its acceptability to others.
Pre-schools and children's centres in one borough of London, UK.
Parents (n 432) of children age 2–4 years.
On average, parents believed that more than half of ‘other’ children had snacks at least daily, while prevalence data indicated this occurred in only 10 % of families. The same discrepancy was observed for perceived injunctive norms: parents overestimated other parents’ acceptance of frequent snacking, with two-thirds of parents having a self v. others discrepancy.
Misperceptions were identified for descriptive and injunctive norms for children's snacking. Accurate information could create less permissive norms and motivate parents to limit their child's intake of unhealthy snacks.
Our case-control study sought to identify risk factors for colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at hospital admission among patients with no known healthcare-related risk factors. We found that patients whose most recent hospitalization occurred greater than 1 year before their current hospital admission were more likely to have MRSA colonization. In addition, both the time that elapsed since the most recent hospitalization and the duration of that hospitalization affected risk.
The only microchiropteran endemic to the granitic Seychelles, the sheath-tailed bat Coleura seychellensis, is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Using bat detectors, the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue were surveyed to establish the current distribution of this species. Although two new roosts were discovered on Mahé, no bats were observed on Praslin and La Digue, and the range of C. seychellensis appears to have further contracted in the last 2 decades. A total of 19 C. seychellensis were counted emerging from or entering three roosts in boulder caves on Mahé during 18 evenings of observations. The bats foraged in open coastal habitat, some of it anthropogenic, and their echolocation calls were also characteristic of bats feeding in open habitat. This study provides no evidence that C. seychellensis is dependent on forest or wetland for foraging. Dietary analysis indicated that C. seychellensis feeds on Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera. A public education programme to highlight the conservation status of the bat and the consequences of roost disturbance is recommended, together with the urgent need for legal protection of the bats and their roosts.
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