Methods of visual assessment in children with cortical visual impairment
Purpose of review: Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is the leading cause of pediatric visual impairment in developed countries. Currently, there is no standardized method of visual assessment in these children, who usually cannot participate in tests designed for typically developing children. A reproducible method of visual assessment that accurately reflects the multitude of visual deficits in CVI is critical to evaluate proposed therapies for this disorder. This review analyzes current research on methods of visual assessment in children with CVI. Recent findings: Earlier studies focused on measuring visual acuity in children with CVI. More recent studies have emphasized other aspects of visual function, such as contrast sensitivity, motion detection, and visual search. Current research topics include questionnaires, functional vision assessment (CVI Range), neuropsychological tests of visual perception, and eye tracking. Eye tracking shows promise for visual assessment in both clinical and research settings because it is objective and quantitative, with the ability to assess diverse visual parameters. Summary: Current research on visual assessment in children with CVI focuses on measuring deficits of visual function beyond visual acuity. This research represents an important step toward designing clinical trials to identify effective therapeutics for this increasingly prevalent disorder with heterogeneous manifestations.
The impact of a diversity intervention on White college students’ colour-blind racial attitudes
This research explored the impact a 3-day pre-college diversity intervention had on incoming White college students’ (N = 63) colour-blind racial attitudes (COBRAS), or their unawareness of racial privilege, blatant racial issues, and institutional discrimination. Repeated measures analysis of variance tests indicated that students reported a greater awareness of racial privilege and blatant racial issues immediately after the programme. Students’ awareness of institutional discrimination – a potentially more abstract and complex understanding of racism – did not change after the program. To isolate the effects of the intervention, independent sample t-tests between White college students who did not undergo the intervention and intervention participants were conducted. Results indicated that both samples did not have significantly different COBRAS before the intervention, providing evidence that the intervention likely contributed to changes in intervention participants’ COBRAS. These results suggest that the pre-college diversity intervention impacted forms of COBRAS differently. Implications for diversity interventions on predominantly White college campuses are discussed.
Teaching Social Work Practice in the Shared Trauma of a Global Pandemic
Unique clinical dynamics occur when both clinician and client are exposed to the same community traumatic event or reality. This reflection explores the applicability of the concept of shared trauma for social work educators in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The author describes her experiences shifting suddenly to teaching social work direct practice courses online, against the backdrop of a rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic. Several parallels to the clinical concept of shared trauma are described, including a stronger emphasis on the mutuality of the teaching relationship, heightened emotional identification with students, and blurred professional boundaries in the student-teacher relationship. The author also describes significant differences between her own experiences and those of her students, recognizing that shared trauma is not always shared proportionately in environments of persistent racial and economic inequality. The chapter concludes with implications for educators working in shared trauma contexts, including the importance of self-care and administrative support. Teaching in a shared traumatic reality requires social work educators to stay cognizant of our connections to our students, as well as the disproportionate tolls of this pandemic.
“Don’t Know where to Go for Help”: Safety and Economic Needs among Violence Survivors during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID—19 pandemic and related quarantine has created additional problems for survivors of interpersonal violence. The purpose of this study is to gain a preliminary understanding of the health, safety, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people that are experiencing or have previously experienced violence, stalking, threats, and/or abuse. An online survey, open from April to June 2020, was taken by people with safety concerns from interpersonal violence. Participants were recruited from IPV and sexual assault-focused agencies, state coalitions, and social media. Quantitative data were summarized using descriptive methods in SPSS and coding methods from thematic and content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data from open-ended questions. A total of 53 participants were recruited for the survey. Individuals with safety concerns have experienced increased challenges with health and work concerns, stress from economic instability, difficulties staying safe, and access resources and support. Over 40% of participants reported safety had decreased. Use of social media and avoidance strategies were the most common safety approaches used. Participants reported mixed experiences with virtual services. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing structural concerns for survivors of violence like IPV and sexual assault. Increased support and economic resource access, coupled with modified safety planning and improved virtual approaches, would better help meet survivor needs.
“We’re just two people in a relationship”: A qualitative exploration of emotional bond and fairness experiences between transgender women and their cisgender partners
Trans‐including couples experience systemic marginalization impacting their relationships, yet studies on these relationships or narratives of strength are few. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore emotional bonding and perceptions of fairness between transgender women and their cisgender partners. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was utilized to answer the research question: What are the experiences of emotional bond and fairness between transgender women and their cisgender partners? This research was situated within frameworks of minority stress, romantic attachment, and contextual therapy. Seven couples of transgender women and cisgender partners were interviewed. Three themes emerged: Minority Stress Contexts and Relational Strengths; The Experience of Emotional Bond; and Negotiating Balance. Processes of boundary creation, attunement, affirmations, and balance of care were noted. Findings reframe partner relationships as opportunities to construct transphobia‐resistant and resilient narratives. Recommendations for clinicians include prioritizing the couple subsystem as an avenue for building resilience against minority stress.
What Gets Measured in Reentry Research? A Scoping Review on Community Reentry From Jail and Prison for Persons With Mental Illnesses
Research on reentry for individuals with mental illnesses leaving jails and prisons lacks outcome specificity and standardization needed to advance knowledge about the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions. This scoping review aims to provide clarity about reentry outcomes by: (a) ascertaining what outcomes are a focus in reentry research, (b) explicating how outcomes are defined, and (c) identifying commonalities or gaps in outcomes reported. A search of multiple databases yielded 415 articles for potential inclusion. After independent document review by two of the authors, 61 articles were included in the review. Recidivism was the most used construct, accounting for 58% of total outcomes and 95% of criminal legal outcomes. Behavioral health indicators were reported the second most frequently and other outcomes were rarely reported. Increasing the specificity of commonly used concepts while also expanding the breadth of outcomes considered is needed to build an evidence base this area of research.
Parents’ Cannabis-Related Attitudes and Emerging Adult Offspring Cannabis Use: Testing the Mediating Effect of Perceived Parental Approval
Background: Contrary to parental alcohol use and expectancies work, little is known about how parent’s cannabis use (CU) and expectancies influence offspring CU. This is a notable gap in the literature given increasing acceptability and use of cannabis, especially among emerging adults (EA). Moreover, limited work has tested mechanisms of transmission of risk from these parent factors. This study addresses these gaps by testing prospective associations of parental CU and expectancies with offspring CU and CU problems, and perceived parental approval of offspring CU as a potential mediator. Method: A community sample of 314 EA and caregiver dyads completed three annual assessments (mean age = 19.13). The sample was 54% female and majority White/non-Hispanic (76%). Caregivers reported on their cannabis expectancies and use, and EA reported on their CU, CU-related problems, and perceived parental approval of CU. Results: Longitudinal structural equation modeling supported a mediated pathway such that high parental positive cannabis expectancies were associated with perceived parental approval of CU, which in turn, predicted increases in EA CU and CU problems. Parental negative expectancies had a significant indirect effect but in the opposite direction. Indirect effects were found above and beyond parental CU, which was not associated with offspring CU. Conclusions: This is the first study to test prospective indirect effects of parental cannabis expectancies on offspring CU. Findings suggest parents’ attitudes, even in the absence of parental use, confer risk for offspring use by shaping perceived acceptance of CU, suggesting parental expectancies as targets for parent-based CU interventions.
Diverse Spirituality Revisited: Lessons Learned
Chapters included in this volume highlight the vibrancy of research into diverse spiritualities. As shown by many of the book’s chapters, culturally specific measures enhance our ability to explain and understand the complexities of spiritual phenomena and help us appreciate religious traditions other than our own and humanize “the other.” The book includes chapters describing measures of Eastern forms of meditation, spiritual Jihad, afterlife beliefs associated with the three main religious worldviews, spirituality among Latin American youth, and Muslim religiousness. The case for particularism is not in conflict with that for universalism as some of the measures have been used cross-culturally. The challenge is to productively fuse these two research traditions. A second set of chapters explores the complex spiritual terrain of the Western world in the post-1960s era. These chapters illuminate a common theme of spirituality decoupled from traditional religiousness—all measures reflect a belief in interconnectedness between the person and the world at large—and articulate differences dependent on socio-cultural and historic contexts (e.g., the U.S. versus Western Europe) and field of inquiry (e.g., the psychology of religion versus transpersonal psychology). Other chapters demonstrate the empirical utility of assessing spirituality related concepts including spiritual support, modeling, struggle, well-being, as well as, prayer coping, faith, and meaning making. The new tools described in this book expand the understanding of the role played by spirituality in our rapidly changing and interconnected world while, at the same time, highlighting the aspects of spirituality common among all peoples and cultures.
The Interpersonal and Psychological Impacts of COVID-19 on Risk for Late-Life Suicide
Older adults experience increased risk for suicide compared to the general population, and the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) may potentiate this risk. We discuss how current COVID-19 pandemic-related policies are likely to harm older adults disproportionately. COVID-19 pandemic social distancing policies and ethical guidelines for COVID-19 treatment may exacerbate experiences of social isolation, perceived expendability, and exposure to suffering, which are related to the 3 main components of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (i.e., thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness to society, and capability for suicide). The COVID-19 pandemic poses a drain on services and has drawn ethical debates about policies around treating younger adults first. These experiences may lead older adults to have reduced access to needed medical and psychiatric services and may convey damaging messages of expendability. Furthermore, the potential prolonged stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may affect neurological, immunological, and health functioning—exacerbating suicide risk. Potential venues to increase treatment options and decrease social isolation are discussed. We acknowledge optimistic effects as well, such as “pulling together” as a society and the many valuable ways older adults may contribute during this crisis.
“It really presents a struggle for females, especially my little girl”: Exploring father’s experiences discussing body image with their young daughters
Body dissatisfaction in children, particularly young girls, is a growing concern around the world. The home environment can have a strong influence on children’s well-being, and parents may contribute to their children’s positive or negative body image development. Nearly all research on parent influence on body image has focused on mothers, leaving fathers’ attitudes and experiences poorly-understood. To address this gap in the literature, we interviewed 30 fathers (Mage = 40.30; SD = 7.48) of girls between the ages of 5 and 10 about the conversations they have with their daughters regarding body image. Through thematic analysis, we identified three primary themes: barriers to effective communication, combatting negative influences, and strategies for discussing body image. Fathers recognized the importance of talking about body image with their daughters, yet many did not feel confident or competent to do so effectively. They engaged in a variety of strategies to combat adverse cultural influences and encourage self-expression, character development, and mental and physical health in their daughters. However, messages about health were sometimes conflated with messages about thinness or food restriction. Implications for families and future research are discussed.
The Perceived Spiritual Support Scale (PSSS): Measuring Support from the Deep Connection with Diverse Sacred Entities
The concept of perceived spiritual support (PSS) centers on an internalized resource derived from perception of an intimate relationship with a higher power, be it God, Jesus, a cosmic force, ancestral spirits, or a psychologically functional equivalent. The literature has indicated the increasing importance of spiritual support in crises and medical care, but previous assessments tended to focus on mainstream religions with inadequate validation. To meet the gap and based on related scientific theories, three crises-based studies were conducted to develop and validate a 12-item scale of perceived spiritual support (the PSSS) for assessing the spiritual resource of individuals with diverse belief systems. This endeavor was also a response to a long-standing call for measuring consciousness-related faith experience and to an assessment problem—the use of simple frequency measures in large-scale epidemiological or sociological surveys. Participants in the three studies reflect varied makeups of age, gender, generation, race, belief systems, and cultural backgrounds. The findings provide the adequate psychometric information for the PSSS and its predictive value for various outcomes. Multivariate analyses demonstrated the indirect mediating or pathway effect of the PSSS, simultaneously evaluated the effects of other established factors, and tested an explanatory mechanism underlying its predictive value. The results suggest that the PSSS, as a short and easy to use tool, can be used to predict important outcomes in crises and across different populations. More cross-cultural studies are warranted for further validation.
A pilot study of a group-based perinatal depression intervention on reducing depressive symptoms and improving maternal-fetal attachment and maternal sensitivity
To conduct a pilot study of a group-based perinatal depression intervention, the Mothers and Babies Course, on depressive symptomatology, maternal-fetal attachment, and maternal sensitivity, 60 pregnant women with moderate to severe depressive symptomatology were randomized to a 6-week intervention or usual care group at their initial prenatal care visit. Measures of depressive symptomatology and maternal-fetal attachment were collected at baseline and 36 weeks gestation. At 12 weeks postpartum, participants completed a measure of depressive symptomatology, and an objective measure of maternal sensitivity was collected. Participants randomized to the intervention group completed an average of 5.2 sessions, and 70% of women completed all six sessions. Exploratory analyses showed that at 12 weeks postpartum, participants randomized to the intervention group had an 8.32-point decrease from baseline on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) as compared to a 4.59-point decrease among participants randomized to usual care. Participants randomized to the intervention group had a mean change score of 12.60 in maternal-fetal attachment via the Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale (MFAS) as compared to 4.60 among participants in usual care. Maternal sensitivity scores, assessed via the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training-Feeding Scale (NCAST-Feeding), were higher at 12 weeks postpartum for women in the intervention group as compared to women in usual care (59.2 and 51.8, respectively). Our pilot study findings provide preliminary support for the benefits of a perinatal depression intervention, delivered in a group setting, on reducing depressive symptomatology, and improving maternal-fetal attachment and maternal sensitivity. Further research, conducted with larger samples, is necessary to determine the effect of this intervention on indicators of maternal attachment.
Hopelessness, Interpersonal, and Emotion Dysregulation Perspectives on Suicidal Ideation: Tests in a Clinical Sample
Objective: The present study directly compared three perspectives of suicidality: Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS), Hopelessness Theory, and a perspective emphasizing emotion dysregulation. Method: 219 adults seeking outpatient psychological services completed questionnaires during intake between November 2015 and February 2019. Patients were included if they completed surveys related to thwarted belongingness (TB), perceived burdensomeness (PB), hopelessness, depressive symptoms, negative affect, and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptoms. Analyses tested the ability of TB, PB, depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and emotion dysregulation to relate to total scores on Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation. We employed Pearson’s correlations and linear regressions to investigate these relations. Results: Constructs related to emotion dysregulation—negative affect (r = 0.161, p < .05) and Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms (r = 0.284, p < .01)—were significantly correlated with suicidal ideation, as were those relevant to Hopelessness Theory—depressive symptoms (r = 0.46, p < .01) and hopelessness (r = 0.45, p < .01)— and IPTS—TB (r = 0.36, p < .01) and PB (r = 0.43, p < .01). Notably the combinations of constructs as proposed by theories were significantly associated with suicidal ideation, but did not improve upon single constructs. This indicated that theoretically relevant constructs alone were strongly associated with suicidal ideation, but were not bested by interactions. Conclusions: This project compared constructs relevant to three theories of suicidality among a sample of treatment seeking outpatients. Findings indicated that suicidal ideation assessment was similarly informed by Hopelessness Theory and IPTS, and to a lesser degree emotion dysregulation. The cross sectional nature of the data and the reliance upon self-report measures limit the inferences that can be made.
Characteristics of Dispensary Patients that Limit Alcohol after Initiating Cannabis
Many patients have reported that they decrease their use of opioids after starting medical cannabis (MC) but less is known for alcohol. The objective of this exploratory study was to identify any factors which differentiate alcohol abaters from those that do not modify their alcohol use after starting MC (non-abaters). Comparisons were made to identify any demographic, dosing, or health history characteristics which differentiated alcohol abaters (N = 47) from non-abaters (N = 65). Respondents selected from among a list of 37 diseases/health conditions (e.g. diabetes, sleep disorders). Abaters and non-abaters were indistinguishable in terms of sex, age, or prior drug history. A greater percentage of abaters (59.6%) than non-abaters (40.6%, p < .05) reported using MC two or more times per day. Abaters were more likely to be employed (68.1%) than non-abaters (51.1%, p < .05). Abaters also reported having significantly more health conditions and diseases (3.3 ± 2.0) than non-abaters (2.4 ± 1.4, p < .05). This small study offers some insights into the profile of patients whose self-reported alcohol intake decreased following initiation of MC. Additional prospective or controlled research into the alcohol abatement phenomenon following MC may be warranted.
Knowledge of objects’ physical properties implicitly guides attention during visual search
Our interactions with the world are guided by our understanding of objects’ physical properties. When packing groceries, we place fragile items on top of more durable ones and position sharp corners so they will not puncture the bags. However, physical properties are not always readily observable, and we often must rely on our knowledge of attributes such as weight, hardness, and slipperiness to guide our actions on familiar objects. Here, we asked whether our knowledge of physical properties not only shapes our actions but also guides our attention to the visual world. In a series of four visual search experiments, participants viewed arrays of everyday objects and were tasked with locating a specified object. The target was sometimes differentiated from the distractors based on its hardness, while a host of other visual and semantic attributes were controlled. We found that observers implicitly used the hardness distinction to locate the target more quickly, even though none reported being aware that hardness was relevant. This benefit arose from fixating fewer distractors overall and spending less time interrogating each distractor when the target was distinguished by hardness. Progressively more stringent stimulus controls showed that surface properties and curvature cues to hardness were not necessary for the benefit. Our findings show that observers implicitly recruit their knowledge of objects’ physical properties to guide how they attend to and engage with visual scenes.
Climate of Fear: Provider Perceptions of Latinx Immigrant Service Utilization
Latinx immigrants endure stressors throughout the immigration process that detrimentally impact their health and wellbeing. Yet, they also face substantial barriers to accessing and utilizing services. These barriers might be heightened under the Trump administration, which has implemented policies facilitating increased immigration enforcement and punitive immigration practices. This study utilizes data collected from providers who serve Latinx immigrants in the border state of Texas to better understand current immigrant service utilization behaviors. Individual interviews and focus groups were conducted shortly after the last presidential election to inquire about recruitment, retention, program completion, and resources to address key client risk factors. Applying grounded theory analysis strategies, interviews, and focus group recordings were coded for key themes. Data demonstrated central concerns held by providers serving immigrants, and especially those who are undocumented or in mixed-status families. Concerns were related to the following three themes: (1) undocumented immigrant stressors, (2) limited resources for undocumented immigrants, and (3) service utilization barriers. Lack of services for undocumented immigrants and fear related to service utilization were prominent subthemes. These findings extend our knowledge of stressors and barriers of access and utilization for immigrants during this time period of increased immigration enforcement which have valuable implications for practice and future research. Providers can take concrete actions to educate immigrants, regardless of documentation status, on how their clients’ identities will be protected. In addition, intentional trust-building strategies are essential to help overcome fear of utilizing services. Future research should ascertain perspectives of immigrant families, as this study drew perspectives only from providers.
Body Image and Sexual Behavior Among Adult Men Who “Hook Up”
Understanding the psychosocial variables associated with sexual behavior is critical, particularly among high-risk individuals such as those who hook-up. It is possible body image is one of these variables. The current study aimed to examine the relationship between body appreciation and body image self-consciousness and three sexual health-related behaviors: 1) condom usage, 2) HIV screening, and 3) STI screening among a sample of adult men who have hooked up at least once in the past month (n = 243). We found that higher levels of body appreciation were related to being less likely to use condoms and higher levels of body image self-consciousness were related to being less likely to be screened for HIV and STIs. The conflicting results suggest additional research is warranted.
A House but Not a Home: How Surveillance in Subsidized Housing Exacerbates Poverty and Reinforces Marginalization
A robust literature has shown that surveillance disproportionately targets poor people of color through the criminal justice and welfare systems. However, little empirical research traces the mechanisms through which surveillance reproduces inequality in other domains, such as subsidized housing, where private actors including property owners and landlords do the work of surveilling tenants. In this article, I apply the theoretical lens of surveillance to the case of subsidized housing to explore the symbolic and material consequences of being monitored at home. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 67 low-income Black mothers in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Houston, Texas, I argue that the scrutiny mothers face in and around their homes reproduces inequality through two key mechanisms. First, surveillance creates a home environment devoid of privacy, that mothers liken to being in prison. Mothers interpret this scrutiny as an effort to control and contain them because of their race, reinforcing racialized notions of presumptive Black criminality. Second, surveillance heightens the material risk for mothers of being caught breaking rules, which paves the way for eventual eviction and exacerbates poverty. Although mothers develop strategies to counter and at times resist disciplinary monitoring, these efforts come with drawbacks that can make surviving poverty harder. Taken together, these findings suggest that being surveilled at home not only diminishes low-income Black mothers’ status in society, but also pushes them into deeper economic precarity. This research extends our understanding of the reach of surveillance into the lives of the poor even in spaces considered to be private.
Voluntary, Survivor-Centered Advocacy in Domestic Violence Agencies
Voluntary, survivor-centered advocacy is a model of practice used in domestic violence organizations; however, more information is needed from the perspective of survivors on how to best facilitate survivor-centered approaches in a voluntary service format. This qualitative study used a thematic analysis to uncover core advocacy approaches from 25 female-identified survivors dwelling in domestic violence emergency shelter and transitional housing programs in two states. Themes revealed that three core approaches aid a voluntary, survivor-centered advocacy model: 1) Establishing a safe base for support, 2) Facilitating access and connection, and 3) Collaboration. Advocacy approaches that emphasize safety, mutuality, and availability of support best engage survivors in voluntary services to address needs and meet goals. Use of a strengths-based approach, psychoeducation, and resource-building contributes to the social and emotional well-being of survivors. Findings indicate community DV advocates should use adaptable advocacy models aimed at service access, connection, and collaborative resource acquisition. Voluntary, survivor-centered models use principals of trauma-informed care, though more widespread use of trauma-informed care (TIC) in voluntary services are needed. Advocates need organizational support to meet survivor needs. Implications for research include the need for fidelity studies and longitudinal research.
Identity in the context of early psychosis: a review of recent research
Purpose: The emergence of psychosis most frequently occurs during adolescence and young adulthood, a period of development in which identity is developed and consolidated. The present narrative review surveyed and synthesized recent empirical contributions to the issue of identity in the context of early psychosis, to inform clinical and future research considerations. Materials and Methods: A systematic search obtained 983 reports pertaining to identity and psychosis among youth and young adults. After screening the abstracts, 81 studies were reviewed in full, yielding 17 that met inclusion criteria. Studies were reviewed with regard to major themes by authors. Results: Three major themes emerged, the majority of which employed qualitative methods. The first theme indicated a disruption to personal identity posed by psychosis symptoms and the diagnosis of mental illness. The second theme suggested that identity difficulties may confer additional emotional and behavioural risk among this population. Third, young people with psychosis indicated the importance of restoring their personal identity, as distinct from their experiences of psychosis, during the recovery process. Conclusions: Identity-related concerns are important aspects of young people’s experience in the early stages of psychosis. Research is needed to determine the potential for interventions to support and enhance identity within early psychosis care.