The Interpersonal and Psychological Impacts of COVID-19 on Risk for Late-Life Suicide

Florida State University

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.

Publication
The Gerontologist
Publication Year
2021

The Perceived Spiritual Support Scale (PSSS): Measuring Support from the Deep Connection with Diverse Sacred Entities

Florida State University

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.

Publication
In, Assessing Spirituality in a Diverse World, A.L. Ai, P. Wink, R.F. Paloutzian, & K.A. Harris
Publication Year
2021

“It really presents a struggle for females, especially my little girl”: Exploring father’s experiences discussing body image with their young daughters

The University of Kansas

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.

Publication
Body Image
Publication Year
2021

Methods of visual assessment in children with cortical visual impairment

University of Southern California

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.

Publication
Current Opinion in Neurology
Publication Year
2021

The impact of a diversity intervention on White college students’ colour-blind racial attitudes

St. Louis University

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.

Publication
Whiteness and Education
Publication Year
2021

Teaching Social Work Practice in the Shared Trauma of a Global Pandemic

Rutgers University

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.

Publication
In, Shared Trauma, Shared Resilience During a Pandemic, C. Tosone (Ed.)
Publication Year
2021

“Don’t Know where to Go for Help”: Safety and Economic Needs among Violence Survivors during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington University in St. Louis

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.

Publication
Journal of Family Violence
Publication Year
2021

“We’re just two people in a relationship”: A qualitative exploration of emotional bond and fairness experiences between transgender women and their cisgender partners

Syracuse University

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.

Publication
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Publication Year
2021

What Gets Measured in Reentry Research? A Scoping Review on Community Reentry From Jail and Prison for Persons With Mental Illnesses

University of Missouri, Columbia

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.

Publication
Criminal Justice and Behavior
Publication Year
2021

Parents’ Cannabis-Related Attitudes and Emerging Adult Offspring Cannabis Use: Testing the Mediating Effect of Perceived Parental Approval

University at Buffalo, State University of New York

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.

Publication
Substance Use & Misuse
Publication Year
2021

Diverse Spirituality Revisited: Lessons Learned

Florida State University

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.

Publication
In, Assessing Spirituality in a Diverse World, A.L. Ai, P. Wink, R.F. Paloutzian, & K.A. Harris
Publication Year
2021

Hate Knows No Boundaries: Online Hate in Six Nations

Northeastern University

This paper examines cross-national commonalities and differences in online hate speech content, exposure, and emotional reaction. Using online surveys from 18 to 25-year-old respondents in six countries, we find a majority of respondents were exposed to online hate in the preceding 3 months. Commonalities across countries are the platform where the respondents were exposed and how they arrived at such content. Unique national cultures of hate speech also exist, including the common targets and respondents’ emotional reactions. A majority of respondents report feeling angry, sad, or ashamed, but most worrisome may be the substantial numbers who report feelings of hatred or pride after seeing online hate. Given the potential for repeated exposure and the recent increase in hate crimes in the US. and Europe, this finding should serve as a reminder of the dangers of online hate and its potential link to offline violence.

Publication
Deviant Behavior
Publication Year
2020

Modifiable risk and protective factors for anxiety disorders among adults: A systematic review

University of Nevada, Reno

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in the general population and associated with high rates of impairment and disability. This burden highlights the need to identify risk factors that individuals can modify without professional intervention. A systematic review was conducted to identify studies that examined modifiable risk and protective factors for anxiety disorders among adults in the general population. Searches were conducted in PubMed, PsycINFO and MEDLINE using medical subject headings and text words related to risk factors, protective factors, and each anxiety disorder. Screening, data extraction, and quality assessment were performed by three study authors. Modifiable risk and protective factors from 19 studies across seven countries were identified. Risk factors identified included cigarette smoking, alcohol use, cannabis use, negative appraisals of life events, avoidance, and occupational factors. Protective factors included social support, coping, and physical activity. Cigarette smoking was the most studied risk factor. Support was found for cigarette smoking as a risk factor for agoraphobia and panic disorder. Mixed results were found for generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobia. Across disorders, smoking frequency was associated with greater risk. Results indicate an important gap in the literature in that few studies have examined modifiable risk factors for anxiety disorders.

Publication
Psychiatry Research
Publication Year
2020

Accountable policing: Policies to advance the personal safety of Black boys and young men (Race and Opportunity Lab Brief Report No. 3)

Washington University in St. Louis

The policies and practices that perpetuate the continual, unjust murder of Black males by the nation’s law-enforcement professionals have gone unchanged for far too long. While this pattern is most dangerous for Black men (Ross, 2015), the consequences of this system reach communities far and wide. HomeGrown StL is issuing this Brief Report to provide local, state, and federal policymakers with concrete, evidence-based policy recommendations for building an equitable, transparent, and ac- countable public-safety approach that will serve and protect all U.S. residents, not just a select few. Our review of local, state, and federal law-enforcement policies demonstrates that, although a handful have been implemented to reduce police violence, evidence-based solutions have been neglected in favor of ineffective approaches or of complete inaction. It is time for policymakers, especially leaders in the St. Louis region, to acknowledge their responsibility for putting an end to this abhorrent injustice.

Publication
Center for Social Development
Publication Year
2020

System involvement among young adults experiencing homelessness: Characteristics of four system-involved subgroups and relationship to risk outcomes

University of Denver

Young adults experiencing homelessness (YAEH) have been found to have high rates of prior involvement with foster care and juvenile justice, but little is known about whether YAEH differ in their risk behaviors based on exposure to different systems. This study used a dataset of 1426 YAEH from 7 different US cities to examine the historical risk and resilience characteristics of those involved in foster care alone, juvenile justice alone, both systems (dual status), and no system involvement. Logistic regression was used to examine whether different types of childhood system involvement predicted risk behaviors in young adulthood including substance use, trade sex, suicide attempts, unplanned pregnancy, and involvement in the adult criminal justice system. Notably, 57% of youth had been exposed to one of the systems – 20% foster care only (n = 291), 18% juvenile justice only (n = 254), and 18% dual status (n = 261). YAEH without a history of system involvement had significantly lower childhood trauma scores and lower rates of lifetime mental health diagnoses compared to all three system involved groups, with dual status youth having the highest rates of both. In relation to risk outcomes, youth with dual status histories had higher odds of trading sex and those with juvenile justice involvement, either alone or as dual status, had higher odds of being arrested after age 18 and of problematic substance use. Results suggest YAEH with prior involvement in child-serving systems have unique risk characteristics that vary by type of system involvement, with dual-system involved youth at particularly high risk. Findings highlight the need for foster care and juvenile justice systems to work collaboratively in providing preventive interventions prior to system exit.

Publication
Children and Youth Services Review
Publication Year
2020

Parent-child concordance on the Pubertal Development Scale in typically developing and autistic youth

Children’s National Medical Center

Background: Characterizing puberty in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is critical given the direct impacts of pubertal progression on neural, cognitive, and physical maturation. Limited information is available about the utility and parent-child concordance of the self-report and parent-report Pubertal Development Scale (PDS) in ASD, an economical and easily administered measure. Method: The primary aim of this study was to examine the concordance between self-report and parent-report PDS ratings in autistic males and females ages 8–17y compared to typically developing (TD) youth, including using the PDS to derive informant-based estimates of adrenal and gonadal development. We hypothesized that there would be greater parent-youth discrepancies in pubertal ratings among autistic males. Our second aim was exploratory; we examined whether individual characteristics impact PDS concordance and hypothesized that lower intellectual and adaptive skills, higher autistic traits, and reduced self-awareness/monitoring would correlate with lower concordance. Results: There were no significant diagnostic group differences in parent-youth concordance for overall PDS scores among males and females. Autistic males had significantly lower inter-item agreement with their parents than TD males and had lower agreement for both adrenal and gonadal aspects of pubertal maturation (adrenal κ = .48; gonadal κ = .55). Conclusions: The PDS is a feasible measure in ASD. Greater parent-youth discrepancies in autistic males may be due to reduced parental awareness or reduced insight into pubertal maturation among autistic males. Future research is needed to further elucidate individual and/or environmental characteristics that influence youth- and parent-reported PDS scores, including differences in self-perception and insight.

Publication
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication Year
2020

Drinking Motives as Moderators of In‐the‐Moment Drinking Risks in Response to Trauma‐Related Distress

University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Background: Trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology are linked to increased risk for problematic drinking, yet the factors that increase such risk remain largely unknown. Theoretical models suggest that affectively oriented drinking motives may be central to trauma‐related drinking. Specifically, individual‐level motivations to drink to regulate affect may be important for moderating drinking urges that occur acutely in response to trauma cues. Further, elevated distress associated with PTSD symptomatology may increase any affectively motivated, momentary drinking risks. However, research has yet to examine these dynamic affective processes. In a large experimental sample, the current study tested whether affective (i.e., coping and enhancement) drinking motives and PTSD symptomatology moderated individuals’ drinking urge in response to a trauma cue in a laboratory cue reactivity paradigm. Methods: College drinkers (n = 611, 53% female) were recruited and selected across levels of trauma exposure and PTSD symptomatology by a structured clinical interview. Participants were randomized to a personalized trauma or neutral cue, reporting on their urge to drink alcohol before and after cue exposure. Drinking motives were assessed at the end of the experimental session. Results: Trauma cue associations with drinking urge were moderated by coping, but not enhancement, motives. Specifically, stronger coping motives were associated with increases in urge to drink alcohol following exposure to a trauma but not neutral cue. PTSD classification did not significantly moderate these associations. Conclusions: Coping motives may increase drinking urge immediately following exposure to trauma cues and may differentiate individuals most at risk for problematic drinking during trauma‐associated distress. Findings support momentary negative affect processes driving dynamic, immediate trauma‐related drinking risks.

Publication
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Publication Year
2020

Time well spent: Home learning activities and gains in children’s academic skills in the prekindergarten year

New York University

Parental engagement in home-based learning activities is linked to children’s academic skills. Yet, interventions that try to enhance parental engagement—sometimes targeted to families with low levels of education—have small effects. This study aimed to inform supports for families by examining how different types of home-based learning activities influence academic skills during prekindergarten. We created four measures that assessed the frequency with which parents (N = 307) engaged in unconstrained and constrained language/literacy and math activities at home. Unconstrained language activities predicted gains in children’s language skills, and unconstrained math activities were associated with gains in math skills. Both associations were larger for families with lower versus higher levels of parental education. Engagement in constrained activities did not predict gains in skills. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Publication
Developmental Psychology
Publication Year
2020

Street-Level Bureaucrats and Ethical Conflicts in Service Provision to Sex Workers

The University of Chicago

Social workers and other service providers are the agents that often have initial contact with sex workers, a highly stigmatised population that has a fraught history with the social work profession. In this paper, I use Lipsky’s theory of street-level bureaucracy and show how social workers use professional discretion when working with this population, even as it might conflict with their personal ethics. Specifically, I focus on the dual service technologies of abstinence and harm reduction, and how service providers have negotiated these technologies in their work with sex workers. In regards to these technologies, I focus on how the emotional and moral discourse surrounding sex work has shaped the response of street-level bureaucrats (SLBs) that work with this population. Using qualitative data from interviews with 29 frontline service providers in a midwestern US state, I argue that these frontline workers use interpersonal modes of discretion to understand ethical conflicts in working with sex trade-involved persons, conflicting with both agency and field-level policy. Implications of this project show how frontline service providers negotiate their responsibilities to this population amidst conflicting personal ethics and service technologies.

Publication
Ethics and Social Welfare
Publication Year
2020

Experiences With Help Seeking Among Non-Service- Engaged Survivors of IPV: Survivors’ Recommendations for Service Providers

Washington University in St. Louis

Engaging with formal intimate partner violence (IPV) services can buffer the impacts of violence and reduce future risk. Many survivors do not access or engage with such services. However, much of our knowledge related to the experiences and perspectives of IPV survivors comes from samples drawn from those seeking formal services. Qualitative interviews with 23 survivors of violence who are not currently engaged with formal IPV services were conducted, focused on the process and outcomes of choosing to seek help. Themes emerged within the categories of formal help-seeking experiences, informal help seeking, and recommendations for providers. Keywords service engagement, help seeking, intimate partner violence, access An estimated 22.3% of American women and 14% of American men have experienced severe physical intimate partner violence (IPV; Breiding et al., 2014).

Publication
Violence Against Women
Publication Year
2020