News and Events in College of Health and Human Development


Twin Sisters Selected as Student Marshals for College of Health and Human Development
Maria and Molly Mazich, twin sisters from Fleetwood, Pa., will be honored as student marshals for the College of Health and Human Development during winter commencement ceremonies on December 22, 2012 at the Penn State University Park campus. "While the differences between the top candidates for college marshal are generally not pronounced, one candidate often stands above the rest," said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. "However, this year was unique. Both Mazich sisters were equally qualified; for example, their GPA's were separated by a few hundredths of a point. Under ordinary circumstances, it would have been difficult to select one over the other, but the fact that they were twins made it impossible to choose one. They both deserved the honor. So this year we have two college marshals."
Reducing sibling rivalry in youth improves later health and well-being
young brother disgruntled with smug older sister
Sibling conflict represents parents' No. 1 concern and complaint about family life, but a new prevention program -- designed and carried out by researchers at Penn State -- demonstrates that siblings of elementary-school age can learn to get along. In doing so, they can improve their future health and well-being. "Negative sibling relationships are strongly linked to aggressive, anti-social and delinquent behaviors, including substance use," said Mark Feinberg, research professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development. "On the other hand, positive sibling relationships are linked to all kinds of positive adjustment, including improved peer and romantic relationship quality, academic adjustment and success, and positive well being and mental health. With this program, we wanted to help siblings learn how to manage their conflicts and feel more like a team as a way to improve their well-being and avoid engaging in troublesome behaviors over time."
Reactions to everyday stressors predict future health
Contrary to popular perception, stressors don't cause health problems—it's people's reactions to the stressors that determine whether they will suffer health consequences, according to researchers at Penn State. "Our research shows that how you react to what happens in your life today predicts your chronic health conditions and 10 years in the future, independent of your current health and your future stress," said David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies. "For example, if you have a lot of work to do today and you are really grumpy because of it, then you are more likely to suffer negative health consequences 10 years from now than someone who also has a lot of work to do today, but doesn't let it bother her."
Interaction of genes and environment influences obesity in children
Neither genes nor the environment alone can predict obesity in children, but when considered together a strong relationship emerges, according to researchers at Penn State, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The researchers found that children who have a genetic variant that makes them less sensitive to the taste of certain bitter compounds, also called "non-tasters," were significantly more likely to be obese than children who were "tasters" of these compounds—but only when they lived in an unhealthy food environment. "Eating behaviors and obesity are influenced by genes and the food environment, but few studies have investigated how both of these variables interact to influence eating behavior and obesity," said Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and food science at Penn State. "We have found that sensitivity to the bitter taste of compounds, like 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP), alone does not have a strong impact on obesity, nor does the food environment alone, but when examined together, their influence on obesity was very strong. In fact, non-taster children who lived in unhealthy food environments were obese on average."
Jill Jayne
Rockstar nutritionist combines nutrition education and entertainment
Jill Jayne ’04 NUTR, Rockstar Nutritionist, will give a presentation, titled "Nutrition Education Through Entertainment," on Thursday, November 1, 2012, as part of the College of Health and Human Development Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. The talk, which is sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society, will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. It is free and open to the public.
event poster
Talk to focus on understanding sex offender behavior
Kristen Eisenbraun Houser, vice president of communications and development for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, will present a talk at 6 p.m. Oct. 25, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Protecting Our Communities: Understanding Offender Behavior." A reception with refreshments will follow the presentation. More >>
Men, women have different stress reactions to relationship conflict
stressed couple
Men and women who are expectant parents have different stress reactions to relationship conflict, according to researchers at Penn State, who studied couples expecting their first child. In addition, recovery from the initial reaction to conflict also can be different for men and women, depending on individual difficulties, such as anxiety, or relationship difficulties, such as chronic relationship conflict. More >>
Athletic Training now a stand-alone major in Department of Kinesiology
student working with patient
Students who are interested in entering the field of athletic training—which deals with the prevention, assessment and treatment of injuries and illnesses in a physically active population—now have the option to receive a bachelor of science degree in the subject. A new Athletic Training major in the Department of Kinesiology has replaced the Athletic Training option, which formerly was part of the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree. Upon completion of the program, students will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in Athletic Training. More >>
Researchers investigate aggression among kindergartners
angry child
Not all aggressive children are aggressive for the same reasons, according to Penn State researchers, who found that some kindergartners who are aggressive show low verbal abilities while others are more easily physiologically aroused. The findings suggest that different types of treatments may be needed to help kids with different underlying causes for problem behavior. "Aggressive responses to being frustrated are a normal part of early childhood, but children are increasingly expected to manage their emotions and control their behavior when they enter school,” said Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, assistant professor of human development and family studies. "Kids who don’t do this well, who hit their classmates when they are frustrated or cause other types of disturbances in the classroom, are at especially high risk for long-term consequences including delinquency, violence, dropping out of school, abusing substances and even suicide. Research tells us that the earlier we can intervene, the better the chances of getting these children back on track." More >>
Survival of safety-net hospitals at risk
Many public safety-net hospitals are likely to face increasing financial and competitive pressures stemming in part from the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, according to researchers at Penn State and the Harvard School of Public Health. "The issue for these hospitals going forward is that the Affordable Care Act promises to change how care for low-income and uninsured populations is funded, potentially reshaping the competitive landscape," said Jonathan Clark, Penn State assistant professor of health policy and administration. "Our research suggests that adapting to these changes may be a struggle for some public safety-net hospitals." More >>
Patient safety improves when leaders walk the safety talk
When nurses feel safe admitting to their supervisors that they've made a mistake regarding a patient, they are more likely to report the error, which ultimately leads to a stronger commitment to safe practices and a reduction in the error rate, according to an international team of researchers. In addition, when nurse leaders’ safety actions mirror their spoken words—when they practice what they preach—unit nurses do not feel caught between adhering to safety protocols and speaking up about mistakes against protocols. "Patient errors remain a major source of avoidable patient harm in the United States," said Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration at Penn State. "The Institute of Medicine report, 'To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,' charged that avoidable medical errors in U.S. hospitals kill at least 44,000 patients a year. Feeling comfortable reporting errors also leads to a stronger commitment to safe practices, which ultimately reduces error rate. More >>
David Cranage named Schreyer Distinguished Honors Faculty Member
David Cranage
David Cranage, associate professor in the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State, has been named a 2012-2014 Schreyer Distinguished Honors Faculty Member by the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. The Distinguished Honors Faculty Program brings together select faculty members and Schreyer student scholars in innovative, interactive programs that extend learning beyond classroom walls. As a Distinguished Honors Faculty Member, Cranage plans to expose Schreyer student scholars to an enhanced learning experience in sustainability business practices and policies as part of a sustainability initiative he has been working on over the past two years. The goal of the initiative is to develop sustainability models for the hospitality industry to use in their policies and practices. Cranage and others involved with the initiative conduct research to examine sustainability in all aspects of the hospitality industry and examine ways to enhance student learning in sustainability issues and practices in the hospitality industry. More >>
Robert Turrisi honored by MADD for research-based national programs
Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, has received the Ralph Hingson Researcher of the Year Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his high school-level parenting intervention that has become the centerpiece of MADD’s national-level prevention effort, known as the “Power of Parents.” More >>
Roger McCarter
Why do we get old? Roger McCarter explores various hypotheses of aging in 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture, "The Immortal Lives of Hypotheses on Aging"
Roger McCarter, professor of biobehavioral health, will present the 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture. His lecture, “The Immortal Lives of Hypotheses on Aging,” will be given at 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 18, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.
John Graham publishes book on the problem of missing data in research
book cover What's a researcher to do when, halfway through her study, several participants drop out, citing changes to their health status or their availability? Missing data have long plagued those conducting applied research in the social, behavioral, and health sciences, but while good missing-data analysis solutions are available, practical information about implementation of these solutions has been lacking. In a new book titled "Missing Data: Analysis and Design," John Graham, Penn State professor of biobehavioral health and human development and family studies, offers practical information to researchers who are not statisticians to implement modern missing-data procedures properly in their research, and to reap the benefits in terms of improved accuracy and statistical power. More >>
Time with parents is important for teens' well-being
Teenagers are famous for seeking independence from their parents, but research shows that many teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time is important for teens' well-being, according to Penn State researchers. "The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is, indeed, just a stereotype," said Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State. "Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment." More >>
89 million people medically uninsured during 2004 to 2007
Eighty-nine million Americans were without health insurance for at least one month during the period from 2004 to 2007, and 23 million lost coverage more than once during that time, according to researchers at Penn State and Harvard University. "These findings call attention to the continuing instability and insecurity of health insurance in our country," said Pamela Farley Short, professor of health policy and administration, Penn State. "With more than a third of all Americans under age 65 being uninsured at some point in a four-year period, it's easy to see that the problem of being uninsured is a big one that affects lots of people." More >>
Internationally renowned photographer Richard Ross to visit Penn State in September
Richard Ross, an American photographer best known for his body of work on the architecture of authority, for which he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, will be visiting Penn State September 17-18 to talk about his forthcoming book on juvenile detention and treatment in the United States. Ross, who teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been the recipient of grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fulbright, and the Center for Cultural Innovation. His work on the architecture of authority involved a series of thought-provoking and unsettling pictures of architectural spaces worldwide that exert power over the individuals confined within them. More >>
Mothers, children underestimate obesity in China
Childhood obesity is on the rise in China, and children and parents there tend to underestimate body weight, according to Penn State health policy researchers. "Because many overweight Chinese children underestimate their weight, they are less likely to do anything to improve their diet or exercise patterns," said Nengliang Yao, graduate student in health policy and administration. "If they don't make changes, they are likely to be obese and have a lot of health problems in the future -- as we often see in the United States already." Children between the ages of 6 and 18, living in nine different provinces in China, had their height and weight measured and body mass index (BMI) calculated as part of the 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). The children and their mothers were separately asked to indicate whether they thought the child was underweight, normal weight or overweight. More >>
Playfulness may help adults attract mates, study finds
Why do adults continue to play throughout their lives while most other mature mammals cease such behavior? According to researchers at Penn State, playfulness may serve an evolutionary role in human mating preferences by signaling positive qualities to potential long-term mates. "Humans and other animals exhibit a variety of signals as to their value as mates," said Garry Chick, professor and head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. "Just as birds display bright plumage or coloration, men may attract women by showing off expensive cars or clothing. In the same vein, playfulness in a male may signal to females that he is nonaggressive and less likely to harm them or their offspring. A woman's playfulness, on the other hand, may signal her youth and fertility." more >>
Penn State offers online HIV/AIDS education programs
After 30 years since its discovery, more than 1 million U.S. adults and adolescents are living with HIV. Annually, about 50,000 more Americans become infected. Yet there is a sense of complacency and continuing stigma surrounding this epidemic. Along with new developments, including the first approved drug to prevent HIV infection and first in-home HIV test, education plays a critical role in combating the spread of HIV, especially among the young. To help the education effort, Penn State is offering a new series of online HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs. "We want to make the most current information about HIV/AIDS as accessible and convenient as possible for the professionals who provide sexual and health-promoting information to young people and others," said Patricia Barthalow Koch, professor of biobehavioral health in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development. Koch also is faculty director of the Pennsylvania Learning Academy for Sexuality Education (PLASE), which offers these programs. more>>
Charity golf tournament to benefit wounded warriors
The inaugural Nittany Lions/SEAL Legacy Foundation Golf Classic, which will be held at noon on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Toftrees Country Club in State College, Pa., is currently seeking golfers to participate on 27 teams. Each team will be hosted by a letterman from the Penn State football team, a letterman from the U.S. Naval Academy or a wounded veteran. Tournament organizers -- which also include Ruth Ann Jackson, instructor in the School of Hospitality Management, and Patricia Kleban, senior instructor in recreation, park and tourism management -- also are seeking sponsors to help support the teams. Chairmen of the tournament include Bill O’Brien, head football coach at Penn State; Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy; Gerald Fussell, retired colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Ryan McCombie, retired captain of the United States Navy SEALs and newly-elected member of the Penn State Board of Trustees. more>>
Nancy Williams appointed head of the Department of Kinesiology
Nancy Williams, professor of kinesiology in the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, has been appointed head of the Department of Kinesiology. She is replacing Karl Newell, Marie Underhill Noll Chair in Kinesiology, who served as head on two separate occasions for a total of 10 years. "Search committee members were favorably impressed with Nancy's understanding of our complex department and her commitment to continuing our tradition as a top-ranked, comprehensive Kinesiology program," said Scott Kretchmar, professor of kinesiology and chair of the search committee. "We felt she would be a thoughtful and inclusive leader as she attempts to build on the foundation established by Karl Newell." more >>
Menopausal women could 'work out' their hot flashes
Menopausal women who exercise may experience fewer hot flashes in the 24 hours following physical activity, according to health researchers. In general, women who are relatively inactive or are overweight or obese tend to have a risk of increased symptoms of perceived hot flashes, said Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology at Penn State. Perceived hot flashes do not always correspond to actual hot flashes. Most previous research analyzed only self-reported hot flashes. This is the first study known to the researchers to look at objective versus subjective hot flashes. Elavsky and colleagues studied 92 menopausal women for 15 days. The women recruited for this study were different from many earlier menopause studies, said Elavsky. In the past, women in menopause studies were experiencing severe symptoms and seeking help. They were probably not representative of the general population. more >>
Exposure to violence has long-term stress effects among adolescents
Children who are exposed to community violence continue to exhibit a physical stress response up to a year after the exposure, suggesting that exposure to violence may have long-term negative health consequences, according researchers at Penn State and University College London. "We know that exposure to violence is linked with aggression, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms and academic and cognitive difficulties in the short term, but little is known about the long-term effects of such exposure," said Elizabeth Susman, Jean Phillips Shibley Professor of Biobehavioral Health, Penn State. "Our data show that the stress reaction to violence exposure is not just immediate. There's an effect that endures." more >>
Blogging Relieves Stress On New Mothers
New mothers who read and write blogs may feel less alone than mothers who do not participate in a blogging community, according to family studies researchers. "It looks like blogging might be helping these women as they transition into motherhood because they may begin to feel more connected to their extended family and friends, which leads them to feel more supported," said Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies, PennState. "That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they're feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression." McDaniel and colleagues from Brigham Young University surveyed 157 new mothers abouttheir media use and their well-being. The moms were all first-time parents with only one child under the age of 18 months -- most much younger than this. The researchers report in the online version of Maternal and Child Health Journal that blogging had a positive impact on new mothers, but social networking -- mainly Facebook and MySpace -- did not seem to impact their well-being. more >>
Penn State team wins SPR cup
At the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Annual Meeting in 2012, the Penn State team brought home the SPR cup. The Sloboda and Bukoski SPR Cup is a lively competition where graduate students and early-career investigators form teams, and each team receives the same data set. The teams have a few weeks to develop research questions and analyze the data, and then all teams present their ideas and findings at the SPR Annual Meeting. Senior prevention scientists and the audience judge the quality of the presentations.
Penn State's team was comprised of Shu Xu, Kathleen Zadzora, Alexis Harris, Jacqui Cox, and Charlie Beekman, and was mentored by Methodology Center Investigators Donna Coffman and Stephanie Lanza. Their presentation, "Transitions to High School and Substance Use: A Story from the ASAP Study," used latent transition analysis to examine adolescent substance use behavior patterns during middle and high school. This work both reinforced and expanded the knowledge base about substance use patterns in high school. Specifically, the team found that prescription drug use follows patterns similar to other substances. Team members will work on preparing their findings for publication in the society's journal, Prevention Science, while continuing their normal academic or professional responsibilities.
Probing Question: What is mindfulness?
Ancient wisdom tells us to “stop and smell the roses” and to “live for the moment.” Given our busy lives, it’s no surprise that this advice is often easier said than done. Many of us multitask not only our physical chores, but our mental ones as well. Says Douglas Coatsworth, Penn State associate professor of human development and family studies, this type of mental multitasking can distract our attention from some of the most important things in life. Most of us have driven somewhere in an automobile while so deep in thought that we barely remember the journey, notes Coatsworth. This is a good metaphor for the effect of mental distractedness on the journey of life, including our relationships with those closest to us, he explains. more >>
Americans fall short of federal exercise recommendations
Americans spend, on average, only about two hours each week participating in sports and fitness activities, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Maryland who examined U.S. government data from the American Time Use Study. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get about four hours of physical activity each week by exercising moderately for 2.5 hours per week and engaging in a vigorous activity, such as running and muscle strengthening, for an hour and fifteen minutes per week. "The United States is the fattest country in the world," said Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus of recreation, park and tourism management, Penn State. "The amount of exercise Americans get has become a major concern." more >>
Robert Turrisi Receives Prevention Science Award
Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, has received the 2012 Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research. The award is given to an individual or team of individuals for producing a significant body of research that applies scientific methods to test one or more preventive interventions or policies. Turrisi will be presented with the award on May 31, 2012, at the society’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. more >>
Professor's course offers insight into complex topics of adoption
In recent years, the idea of adoption has been seen regularly in the public eye as celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Sandra Bullock are adopting internationally to grow their clans. However, there’s a lot more to be said about adoption, and Jennifer Crissman Ishler, a senior instructor in human development and family studies (HDFS) at Penn State, has made it her mission to give students a crash course on the ins and outs of this complex process. more >>
New Center Focuses on Sport Concussion Research and Community Service
According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 1.3 million people sustain concussions — mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) — each year, and about a half-million children aged 0 to 14 years make visits to the emergency department for all forms of TBI each year.. A new Penn State center — called the Center for Sport Concussion Research and Service -- has been established with a goal of advancing research on sport-related concussions and of providing services to local collegiate and child athletes in the form of baseline assessments that can aid in diagnosing concussions and tracking recovery.
Miller Receives National Athletic Trainers’ Association Award
Sayers John Miller, III, assistant professor of kinesiology at Penn State, has received the 2012 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Continuing Education Excellence Award. The award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of athletic training in the area of continuing education. In particular, the award recipient must have demonstrated noteworthy commitments to continuing education via creative works, volunteer service, speaking engagements, and other distinguished professional activities. Miller will be presented with the award on June 27 during the NATA Annual Meeting & Clinical Symposia to be held in St Louis, Mo. more >>
Binge eating may lead to addiction-like behaviors
A history of binge eating — consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time — may make an individual more likely to show other addiction-like behaviors, including substance abuse, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. In the short term, this finding may shed light on the factors that promote substance abuse, addiction, and relapse. In the long term, may help clinicians treat individuals suffering from this devastating disease. more >>
Birch and Kris-Etherton Receive American Society for Nutrition Awards
Leann Birch, distinguished professor of human development and family studies and professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, and Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State, have received awards from the American Society for Nutrition. more >>
Depression may lead mothers to wake babies
Depressed mothers are more likely to needlessly wake up their infants at night than mothers who are not depressed, according to Penn State researchers. "We found that mothers with high depressive symptom levels are more likely to excessively worry about their infants at night than mothers with low symptom levels, and that such mothers were more likely to seek out their babies at night and spend more time with their infants than mothers with low symptom levels," said Douglas M. Teti, associate director of the Social Science Research Institute and professor of human development, psychology and pediatrics. more >>
Linda Caldwell and Peter Molenaar Named Distinguished Professors
Penn State has named Linda Caldwell, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management and of human development and family studies, and Peter Molenaar, professor of human development and family studies and of psychology, distinguished professors for their records of research, teaching and service. The honor—which recognizes exceptional teaching, research, creativity and service to the University community—is awarded by the Office of the President of Penn State based on the recommendations of colleagues and the dean. more >>
Ro Nwranski Receives Excellence in Advising Award
Ro Nwranksi, adviser in the College of Health and Human Development, has received a Penn State Excellence in Advising Award. The award, which was established by the Penn State University Advising Council and the Office of Undergraduate Education, annually honors one full-time faculty member and one full-time professional adviser from any Penn State location who have at least two years of advising experience. Selection criteria are based on excellence in general advising, academic and career guidance, enthusiasm and assistance in decision-making, and goal setting. more >>
$3.5-Million Grant Helps Teachers Help Students
Improving the well being of teachers so they can better support their students is the goal of a $3.5-million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education. The study will test a professional development program, called CARE for Teachers (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education), which was developed, in part, by Patricia Jennings, research assistant professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State and the current project's principal investigator. more >>
Workshop to Discuss Kids’ Sexual Health and Safety
Dr. Janet Rosenzweig, interim executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania, will present a workshop, titled “Promoting Sexual Safety and Health for Kids,” on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The workshop, which will take place in the Living Center, room 110 Henderson Building, on the University Park campus, is sponsored by the Centre Alliance for Healthy Relationships, the Pennsylvania Learning Academy for Sexuality Education, Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania, and Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. Workshop attendees will learn what adults and communities can do to promote the sexual health and safety of children, gain knowledge and skills to help them feel more comfortable talking with children about sexual issues, and learn tips on how to “tune in” to the external influences that impact the sexual safety of children. more >>
Lisa Gatzke-Kopp Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award
Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, has been honored with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award, which provides five years of funding, is the most prestigious award given by the NSF in support of junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research. more >>
Being ignored online or in person, it's still exclusion
People who are excluded by others online, such as on Facebook, may feel just as bad as if they had been excluded in person, according to researchers at Penn State and Misericordia University. "If you've ever felt bad about being 'ignored' on Facebook you're not alone," said Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine at Penn State. "Facebook — with its approximately 800 million users— serves as a place to forge social connections; however, it is often a way to exclude others without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction. Most people would probably expect that being ignored or rejected via a remote source like the Internet would not hurt as much as being rejected in person. Yet, our studies show that people may experience similar psychological reactions to online exclusion as they do with face-to-face exclusion." more >>
David Katz slated to give 2012 Mayers Lecture
David Katz, president and founder of Turn the Tide Foundation Inc., will give the 15th annual Stanley P. Mayers Endowed Lecture on April 3. The lecture will be hosted by the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, in conjunction with the Mount Nittany Medical Center. Katz’s lecture, “Food as Medicine: The Case for a Figurative Spoon Full of Sugar,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. at The Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. Katz also is the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and the founding director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn. more >>
Ultimate Volumetrics diet book helps people lose weight, manage hunger
book coverA new book by Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Penn State, aims to help people control their hunger while also losing weight. "The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet" will be available in stores and online on April 10. "There is no magic way to get around the fact that to lose weight you must reduce the calories you consume to below the number you burn," Rolls said. "However, cutting calories doesn't have to leave you feeling hungry. You can carefully choose the foods you eat so that you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories." more >>
Beliefs about genes, God, can change health communication strategies
Beliefs about nature and nurture can affect how patients and their families respond to news about their diagnosis, according to Penn State health communication researchers. Understanding how people might respond to a health problem, especially when the recommendations for adapting to the condition may seem contradictory to their beliefs, is crucial to planning communication strategies, said Roxanne Parrott, Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Health Policy and Administration. more >>
Violent relationships likely detrimental to good parenting
Couples who are married or living together will probably have more trouble parenting as a team if they have been violent toward one another during pregnancy, according to a team of psychologists. "This finding is helpful because working as a parenting team, in what we call the co-parenting relationship, is a key influence on everything from mothers' postpartum depression to sensitive parenting to the children's emotional and social adjustment," said Mark E. Feinberg, research professor, Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State. Researchers interviewed 156 expectant couples at three different times — once before the baby was born, again about six months after the birth of the child and a final time, when the baby was approximately 13 months old. The interviews determined the degree of physical violence between couples prior to the birth of the baby and how well couples were able to act as a team while parenting, after the baby was born. more >>
Parents Report Gluten-, Casein-Free Diet May Help Some Children With Autism
A gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to researchers at Penn State. The research is the first to use survey data from parents to document the effectiveness of a gluten-free, casein-free diet on children with ASD. "Research has shown that children with ASD commonly have GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms," said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. more >>
Improving Public Health With Behavioral Interventions is Topic of Upcoming Pattishall Lecture
Linda Collins, director of The Methodology Center and professor of human development and family studies and of statistics in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, will present the 2012 Pattishall Research Lecture. Her lecture, “Unpacking the Black Box: Engineering More Potent Behavioral Interventions to Improve Public Health,” will be given at 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.
Motivation to exercise affects behavior
For many people, the motivation to exercise fluctuates from week to week, and these weekly fluctuations predict whether or not they will be physically active, according to researchers at Penn State. In an effort to understand how the motivation to exercise is linked to behavior, the researchers examined college students' intentions to be physically active as well as their actual activity levels. "Many of us set New Years' resolutions to be more physically active, and we expect these resolutions to be stable throughout the year," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. Conroy and colleagues recruited 33 college students and assessed over a ten-week period both the students' weekly intentions to be physically active and their activity levels. During each of the ten weeks, participants were instructed to logon to a website and to rate their intentions to perform physical activity for the week ahead. To assess physical activity, participants were instructed to wear pedometers each day for the first four weeks. more >>
Gene Related to Fat Preferences in Humans Found
The preference for fatty foods has a genetic basis, according to researchers at Penn State, Columbia University, Cornell University and Rutgers University, who discovered that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of this gene. The results help explain why some people struggle when placed on a low-fat diet and may one day assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow. The results also may help food developers create new low-fat foods that taste better. "Fat is universally palatable to humans," said Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, Penn State. The scientists examined 317 African-American males and females because individuals in this ethnic group are highly vulnerable to obesity and, therefore, are at greatest risk for obesity-related diseases. more >>
Penn State Team's QR Code Wins REACH Challenge
"Real-Time Care Experience Feedback Using QR Codes," a Penn State project that allows hospital patients to inform hospital personnel of their experiences — good or bad — in real time, is the winner of the 2012 REACH Developer Challenge, sponsored by AcademyHealth and part of the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge. "As a former health care provider, I have witnessed patients' confusion about why it was taking so long to see a doctor, and I have seen family members worried about their loved ones and unable to get information about them," said Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration. "Our application of QR-code technology will enable hospitals to say to patients and their family members, 'We care about you, we are listening to you, and we are willing totalk to you about your concerns right now.'" more >>
Early Intervention May Curb Dangerous College Drinking
The first few weeks of college are a critical time in shaping students' drinking habits. Now Penn State researchers have a tailored approach that may help prevent students from becoming heavy drinkers. "Research shows there is a spike in alcohol-related consequences that occur in the first few weeks of the semester, especially with college freshmen," said Michael J. Cleveland, research associate at the Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center. Cleveland and his colleagues found that students who were non-drinkers before starting college, and who received the parent-based intervention, were unlikely to escalate to heavy drinking when surveyed again during the fall semester of their first year. more >>
Physical activity yields feelings of excitement, enthusiasm
People who are more physically active report greater levels of excitement and enthusiasm than people who are less physically active, according to researchers at Penn State. People also are more likely to report feelings of excitement and enthusiasm on days when they are more physically active than usual. "You don't have to be the fittest person who is exercising every day to receive the feel-good benefits of exercise," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. "It's a matter of taking it one day at a time, of trying to get your activity in, and then there's this feel-good reward afterwards." more >>
Research summary highlights the health impact of comparing oneself to others
If you’ve ever looked at another person and thought, “well, at least I’m doing better than he is,” or “wow, I wish I could be doing as well as she is,” you’re not alone. This phenomenon, called social comparison, is common in daily life, and it is the topic of a research summary that suggests that making such comparisons could influence people's physical and emotional health. Proposed in the 1950s, the original theory of social comparison states that individuals are driven to evaluate themselves against others under conditions of uncertainty. “People compare themselves to others with respect to all kinds of life domains — wealth, appearance, achievement,” said Josh Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine, Penn State. more >>
AAC Leadership Project Receives $1.2 Million Grant
The Penn State Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Leadership Project, led by Janice Light, the Hintz Family Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence, has received a $1.2 million doctoral training grant from the U.S. Department of Education. "This project responds to the serious shortage of Ph.D.-level faculty members who by fulfilling leadership roles in research and in preparing speech-language pathologists can improve services and results for children with severe communication disabilities, such as those associated with autism, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injuries," said Light. "These children are unable to rely on speech to meet their communication needs and may require AAC assistive technology to enhance their communication. Without research to determine evidence-based practices and without pre-service training to prepare speech-language pathologists to implement these evidence-based practices, these children are at grave risk in all areas of development and educational achievement." more >>
Penn State introduces online master's degree in health administration
The first of the 76 million baby boomers turned 65 this year. As this generation ages, it will place significant demands on an already strained health care system. To meet this challenge, medical and health services managers—an occupation projected to grow 16 percent in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—will need the latest knowledge and skills. Penn State's new master of health administration degree, delivered online, can help working adults prepare for health care management careers. "We're already experiencing shortages of nurses, physicians of all kinds, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, radiologists and other medical technicians," said Chris Calkins, executive director of the online master of health administration (MHA) program. "The baby boomers and the 32 million who will become insured under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will further challenge the health care system." more >>
Children's Communicative Competence Project Receives $1.2 Million Grant
The Penn State Children's Communicative Competence Project, led by Janice Light, the Hintz Family Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence, has received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Over a five-year period, the grant will fund 21 master's students to become fully credentialed speech-language pathologists who are qualified to provide services in high-need, early intervention or school settings. The students will complete a comprehensive curriculum that integrates academic coursework, research, and mentored clinical experiences. more >>
Foot and Ankle Structure Differ Between Sprinters and Non-Sprinters
The skeletal structure of the foot and ankle differs significantly between human sprinters and non-sprinters, according to researchers at Penn State. Their findings not only help explain why some people are faster runners than others, but also may be useful in helping people who have difficulty walking, such as older adults and children with cerebral palsy. According to Stephen Piazza, associate professor of kinesiology, the research is the first to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate that sprinters have significantly longer bones in their forefeet as well as reduced leverage in their Achilles tendons than non-sprinters. more >>
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