Psychological Distress, Depression, Anxiety, and Burnout among International Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Longitudinal Study
Source: PLoS ONE
International humanitarian aid workers providing care in emergencies are subjected to numerous chronic and traumatic stressors.
To examine consequences of such experiences on aid workers’ mental health and how the impact is influenced by moderating variables.
We conducted a longitudinal study in a sample of international non-governmental organizations. Study outcomes included anxiety, depression, burnout, and life and job satisfaction. We performed bivariate regression analyses at three time points. We fitted generalized estimating equation multivariable regression models for the longitudinal analyses.
Study participants from 19 NGOs were assessed at three time points: 212 participated at pre-deployment; 169 (80%) post-deployment; and 154 (73%) within 3–6 months after deployment. Prior to deployment, 12 (3.8%) participants reported anxiety symptoms, compared to 20 (11.8%) at post-deployment (p = 0·0027); 22 (10.4%) reported depression symptoms, compared to 33 (19.5%) at post-deployment (p = 0·0117) and 31 (20.1%) at follow-up (p = .00083). History of mental illness (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 4.2; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1·45–12·50) contributed to an increased risk for anxiety. The experience of extraordinary stress was a contributor to increased risk for burnout depersonalization (AOR 1.5; 95% CI 1.17–1.83). Higher levels of chronic stress exposure during deployment were contributors to an increased risk for depression (AOR 1·1; 95% CI 1·02–1.20) comparing post- versus pre-deployment, and increased risk for burnout emotional exhaustion (AOR 1.1; 95% CI 1.04–1.19). Social support was associated with lower levels of depression (AOR 0·9; 95% CI 0·84–0·95), psychological distress (AOR = 0.9; [CI] 0.85–0.97), burnout lack of personal accomplishment (AOR 0·95; 95% CI 0·91–0·98), and greater life satisfaction (p = 0.0213).
When recruiting and preparing aid workers for deployment, organizations should consider history of mental illness and take steps to decrease chronic stressors, and strengthen social support networks.
Source: PLoS ONE
Adaptation aftereffects have been found for low-level visual features such as colour, motion and shape perception, as well as higher-level features such as gender, race and identity in domains such as faces and biological motion. It is not yet clear if adaptation effects in humans extend beyond this set of higher order features. The aim of this study was to investigate whether objects highly associated with one gender, e.g. high heels for females or electric shavers for males can modulate gender perception of a face. In two separate experiments, we adapted subjects to a series of objects highly associated with one gender and subsequently asked participants to judge the gender of an ambiguous face. Results showed that participants are more likely to perceive an ambiguous face as male after being exposed to objects highly associated to females and vice versa. A gender adaptation aftereffect was obtained despite the adaptor and test stimuli being from different global categories (objects and faces respectively). These findings show that our perception of gender from faces is highly affected by our environment and recent experience. This suggests two possible mechanisms: (a) that perception of the gender associated with an object shares at least some brain areas with those responsible for gender perception of faces and (b) adaptation to gender, which is a high-level concept, can modulate brain areas that are involved in facial gender perception through top-down processes.
Source: PLoS ONE
Every day, thousands of polls, surveys, and rating scales are employed to elicit the attitudes of humankind. Given the ubiquitous use of these instruments, it seems we ought to have firm answers to what is measured by them, but unfortunately we do not. To help remedy this situation, we present a novel approach to investigate the nature of attitudes. We created a self-transforming paper survey of moral opinions, covering both foundational principles, and current dilemmas hotly debated in the media. This survey used a magic trick to expose participants to a reversal of their previously stated attitudes, allowing us to record whether they were prepared to endorse and argue for the opposite view of what they had stated only moments ago. The result showed that the majority of the reversals remained undetected, and a full 69% of the participants failed to detect at least one of two changes. In addition, participants often constructed coherent and unequivocal arguments supporting the opposite of their original position. These results suggest a dramatic potential for flexibility in our moral attitudes, and indicates a clear role for self-attribution and post-hoc rationalization in attitude formation and change.
See: People change moral position without even realizing it (Science Daily)
Opinions from the Front Lines of Cat Colony Management Conflict
Source: PLoS ONE
Outdoor cats represent a global threat to terrestrial vertebrate conservation, but management has been rife with conflict due to differences in views of the problem and appropriate responses to it. To evaluate these differences we conducted a survey of opinions about outdoor cats and their management with two contrasting stakeholder groups, cat colony caretakers (CCCs) and bird conservation professionals (BCPs) across the United States. Group opinions were polarized, for both normative statements (CCCs supported treating feral cats as protected wildlife and using trap neuter and release [TNR] and BCPs supported treating feral cats as pests and using euthanasia) and empirical statements. Opinions also were related to gender, age, and education, with females and older respondents being less likely than their counterparts to support treating feral cats as pests, and females being less likely than males to support euthanasia. Most CCCs held false beliefs about the impacts of feral cats on wildlife and the impacts of TNR (e.g., 9% believed feral cats harmed bird populations, 70% believed TNR eliminates cat colonies, and 18% disagreed with the statement that feral cats filled the role of native predators). Only 6% of CCCs believed feral cats carried diseases. To the extent the beliefs held by CCCs are rooted in lack of knowledge and mistrust, rather than denial of directly observable phenomenon, the conservation community can manage these conflicts more productively by bringing CCCs into the process of defining data collection methods, defining study/management locations, and identifying common goals related to caring for animals.
Because cross-species evidence suggests that high testosterone (T) may interfere with paternal investment, the relationships between men’s transition to parenting and changes in their T are of growing interest. Studies of human males suggest that fathers who provide childcare often have lower T than uninvolved fathers, but no studies to date have evaluated how nighttime sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring may affect T. Using data collected in 2005 and 2009 from a sample of men (n = 362; age 26.0 ± 0.3 years in 2009) residing in metropolitan Cebu, Philippines, we evaluated fathers’ T based on whether they slept on the same surface as their children (same surface cosleepers), slept on a different surface but in the same room (roomsharers), or slept separately from their children (solitary sleepers). A large majority (92%) of fathers in this sample reported practicing same surface cosleeping. Compared to fathers who slept solitarily, same surface cosleeping fathers had significantly lower evening (PM) T and also showed a greater diurnal decline in T from waking to evening (both p<0.05). Among men who were not fathers at baseline (2005), fathers who were cosleepers at follow-up (2009) experienced a significantly greater longitudinal decline in PM T over the 4.5-year study period (p0.2). These results are consistent with previous findings indicating that daytime father-child interaction contributes to lower T among fathers. Our findings specifically suggest that close sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring results in greater longitudinal decreases in T as men transition to fatherhood and lower PM T overall compared to solitary sleeping fathers.
See: Fathers Who Sleep Closer to Children Have Lower Testosterone Levels (Science Daily)
Source: PLoS ONE
High levels of alcohol consumption and increases in heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking) are a growing public concern, due to their association with increased risk of personal and societal harm. Alcohol consumption has been shown to be sensitive to factors such as price and availability. The aim of this study was to explore the influence of glass shape on the rate of consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
This was an experimental design with beverage (lager, soft drink), glass (straight, curved) and quantity (6 fl oz, 12 fl oz) as between-subjects factors. Social male and female alcohol consumers (n = 159) attended two experimental sessions, and were randomised to drink either lager or a soft drink from either a curved or straight-sided glass, and complete a computerised task identifying perceived midpoint of the two glasses (order counterbalanced). Ethical approval was granted by the Faculty of Science Research Ethics Committee at the University of Bristol. The primary outcome measures were total drinking time of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, and perceptual judgement of the half-way point of a straight and curved glass.
Participants were 60% slower to consume an alcoholic beverage from a straight glass compared to a curved glass. This effect was only observed for a full glass and not a half-full glass, and was not observed for a non-alcoholic beverage. Participants also misjudged the half-way point of a curved glass to a greater degree than that of a straight glass, and there was a trend towards a positive association between the degree of error and total drinking time.
Glass shape appears to influence the rate of drinking of alcoholic beverages. This may represent a modifiable target for public health interventions.
See: Stein, Tankard, Pint, Boot: Different beer glasses affect drinking speed (EveryONE blog)
Libertarians are an increasingly prominent ideological group in U.S. politics, yet they have been largely unstudied. Across 16 measures in a large web-based sample that included 11,994 self-identified libertarians, we sought to understand the moral and psychological characteristics of self-described libertarians. Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment, we focused on the underlying affective and cognitive dispositions that accompany this unique worldview. Compared to self-identified liberals and conservatives, libertarians showed 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle, and weaker endorsement of all other moral principles; 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional cognitive style; and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. As predicted by intuitionist theories concerning the origins of moral reasoning, libertarian values showed convergent relationships with libertarian emotional dispositions and social preferences. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of personality differences in the organization of political attitudes.
Measuring the Distribution of Spitefulness
Source: PLoS ONE
Spiteful, antisocial behavior may undermine the moral and institutional fabric of society, producing disorder, fear, and mistrust. Previous research demonstrates the willingness of individuals to harm others, but little is understood about how far people are willing to go in being spiteful (relative to how far they could have gone) or their consistency in spitefulness across repeated trials. Our experiment is the first to provide individuals with repeated opportunities to spitefully harm anonymous others when the decision entails zero cost to the spiter and cannot be observed as such by the object of spite. This method reveals that the majority of individuals exhibit consistent (non-)spitefulness over time and that the distribution of spitefulness is bipolar: when choosing whether to be spiteful, most individuals either avoid spite altogether or impose the maximum possible harm on their unwitting victims.
Previous work has suggested that the experience of psychological stress may influence physical attractiveness ideals, but most evidence in favour of this hypothesis remains archival. The objective of this study was to experimentally investigate the impact of stress on men’s judgements of female body size.
Men were randomly assigned to either an experimental group, in which they took part in a task that heightened stress (experimental group, n = 41) or in which they did not take part in such a task (control group, n = 40). Both groups rated the attractiveness of female bodies varying in size from emaciated to obese, completed a measure of appetite sensation, and had their body mass indices (BMIs) measured.
Between-groups analyses showed that the experimental group was matched with the control group in terms of mean age, BMI, and appetite sensation. Further analyses showed that men in the experimental group rated a significantly heavier female body size as maximally attractive than the control group. Men in the experimental group also rated heavier female bodies as more attractive and idealised a wider range of female figures than did the control group.
This study found that the experience of stress was associated with a preference among men for heavier female body sizes. These results indicate that human attractiveness judgements are sensitive to variations in local ecologies and reflect adaptive strategies for dealing with changing environmental conditions.
Repeat Tracking of Individual Songbirds Reveals Consistent Migration Timing but Flexibility in Route
Tracking repeat migratory journeys of individual animals is required to assess phenotypic plasticity of individual migration behaviour in space and time. We used light-level geolocators to track the long-distance journeys of migratory songbirds (wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina), and, for the first time, repeat journeys of individuals. We compare between- and within-individual variation in migration to examine flexibility of timing and route in spring and autumn. Date of departure from wintering sites in Central America, along with sex and age factors, explained most of the variation (71%) in arrival date at North American breeding sites. Spring migration showed high within-individual repeatability in timing, but not in route. In particular, spring departure dates of individuals were highly repeatable, with a mean difference between years of just 3 days. Autumn migration timing and routes were not repeatable. Our results provide novel evidence of low phenotypic plasticity in timing of spring migration, which may limit the ability of individuals to adjust migration schedules in response to climate change,
See: Songbirds Migrate On Strict Schedule (Science Daily)
Source: PLoS ONE
Recent research suggests profound sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual response. These results, however, are based on measures of genital arousal, which have potential limitations such as volunteer bias and differential measures for the sexes. The present study introduces a measure less affected by these limitations. We assessed the pupil dilation of 325 men and women of various sexual orientations to male and female erotic stimuli. Results supported hypotheses. In general, self-reported sexual orientation corresponded with pupil dilation to men and women. Among men, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in bisexual-identified men. In contrast, among women, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in heterosexual-identified women. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed. Because the measure of pupil dilation is less invasive than previous measures of sexual response, it allows for studying diverse age and cultural populations, usually not included in sexuality research.
See: Pupil dilation reveals sexual orientation in new Cornell study (EurekAlert!)
Source: PLoS ONE
Only a handful of public health studies have investigated expectations of early death among adolescents. Associations have been found between these expectations and risk behaviors in adolescence. However, these beliefs may not only predict worse adolescent outcomes, but worse trajectories in health with ties to negative outcomes that endure into young adulthood. The objectives of this study were to investigate perceived chances of living to age 35 (Perceived Survival Expectations, PSE) as a predictor of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and substance use in young adulthood. We examined the predictive capacity of PSE on future suicidal ideation/attempt after accounting for sociodemographics, depressive symptoms, and history of suicide among family and friends to more fully assess its unique contribution to suicide risk. We investigated the influence of PSE on legal and illegal substance use and varying levels of substance use. We utilized the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) initiated in 1994–95 among 20,745 adolescents in grades 7–12 with follow-up interviews in 1996 (Wave II), 2001–02 (Wave III) and 2008 (Wave IV; ages 24–32). Compared to those who were almost certain of living to age 35, perceiving a 50–50 or less chance of living to age 35 at Waves I or III predicted suicide attempt and ideation as well as regular substance use (i.e., exceeding daily limits for moderate drinking; smoking ≥ a pack/day; and using illicit substances other than marijuana at least weekly) at Wave IV. Associations between PSE and detrimental adult outcomes were particularly strong for those reporting persistently low PSE at both Waves I and III. Low PSE at Wave I or Wave III was also related to a doubling and tripling, respectively, of death rates in young adulthood. Long-term and wide-ranging ties between PSE and detrimental outcomes suggest these expectations may contribute to identifying at-risk youth.
See: Teen Survival Expectations Predict Later Risk-Taking Behavior (Science Daily)
The spread of infectious diseases at the global scale is mediated by long-range human travel. Our ability to predict the impact of an outbreak on human health requires understanding the spatiotemporal signature of early-time spreading from a specific location. Here, we show that network topology, geography, traffic structure and individual mobility patterns are all essential for accurate predictions of disease spreading. Specifically, we study contagion dynamics through the air transportation network by means of a stochastic agent-tracking model that accounts for the spatial distribution of airports, detailed air traffic and the correlated nature of mobility patterns and waiting-time distributions of individual agents. From the simulation results and the empirical air-travel data, we formulate a metric of influential spreading––the geographic spreading centrality––which accounts for spatial organization and the hierarchical structure of the network traffic, and provides an accurate measure of the early-time spreading power of individual nodes.
Predicting the Impact of the 2011 Conflict in Libya on Population Mental Health: PTSD and Depression Prevalence and Mental Health Service Requirements
Source: PLoS One
Mental disorders are likely to be elevated in the Libyan population during the post-conflict period. We estimated cases of severe PTSD and depression and related health service requirements using modelling from existing epidemiological data and current recommended mental health service targets in low and middle income countries (LMIC’s).
Post-conflict prevalence estimates were derived from models based on a previously conducted systematic review and meta-regression analysis of mental health among populations living in conflict. Political terror ratings and intensity of exposure to traumatic events were used in predictive models. Prevalence of severe cases was applied to chosen populations along with uncertainty ranges. Six populations deemed to be affected by the conflict were chosen for modelling: Misrata (population of 444,812), Benghazi (pop. 674,094), Zintan (pop. 40,000), displaced people within Tripoli/Zlitan (pop. 49,000), displaced people within Misrata (pop. 25,000) and Ras Jdir camps (pop. 3,700). Proposed targets for service coverage, resource utilisation and full-time equivalent staffing for management of severe cases of major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are based on a published model for LMIC’s.
Severe PTSD prevalence in populations exposed to a high level of political terror and traumatic events was estimated at 12.4% (95%CI 8.5–16.7) and was 19.8% (95%CI 14.0–26.3) for severe depression. Across all six populations (total population 1,236,600), the conflict could be associated with 123,200 (71,600–182,400) cases of severe PTSD and 228,100 (134,000–344,200) cases of severe depression; 50% of PTSD cases were estimated to co-occur with severe depression. Based upon service coverage targets, approximately 154 full-time equivalent staff would be required to respond to these cases sufficiently which is substantially below the current level of resource estimates for these regions.
This is the first attempt to predict the mental health burden and consequent service response needs of such a conflict, and is crucially timed for Libya.
Measuring Resilience in Adult Women Using the 10-Items Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Role of Trauma Exposure and Anxiety Disorders
Source: PLoS ONE
Resilience is the ability of individuals to adapt positively in the face of trauma. Little is known, however, about lifetime factors affecting resilience.
We assessed the effects of psychiatric disorder and lifetime trauma history on the resilience self-evaluation using the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-10) in a high-risk-women sample. Two hundred and thirty eight community-dwelling women, including 122 participants in a study of breast cancer survivors and 116 participants without previous history of cancer completed the CD-RISC-10. Lifetime psychiatric symptoms were assessed retrospectively using two standardized psychiatric examinations (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and Watson’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Inventory).
Multivariate logistic regression adjusted for age, education, trauma history, cancer, current psychiatric diagnoses, and psychoactive treatment indicated a negative association between current psychiatric disorder and high resilience compared to low resilience level (OR = 0.44, 95% CI [0.21–0.93]). This was related to anxiety and not mood disorder. A positive and independent association with a trauma history was also observed (OR = 3.18, 95% CI [1.44–7.01]).
Self-evaluation of resilience is influenced by both current anxiety disorder and trauma history. The independent positive association between resilience and trauma exposure may indicate a “vaccination” effect. This finding need to be taken into account in future studies evaluating resilience in general or clinical populations.
First Is Best
Source: PLoS ONE
We experience the world serially rather than simultaneously. A century of research on human and nonhuman animals has suggested that the first experience in a series of two or more is cognitively privileged. We report three experiments designed to test the effect of first position on implicit preference and choice using targets that range from individual humans and social groups to consumer goods. Experiment 1 demonstrated an implicit preference to buy goods from the first salesperson encountered and to join teams encountered first, even when the difference in encounter is mere seconds. In Experiment 2 the first of two consumer items presented in quick succession was more likely to be chosen. In Experiment 3 an alternative hypothesis that first position merely accentuates the valence of options was ruled out by demonstrating that first position enhances preference for the first even when it is evaluatively negative in meaning (a criminal). Together, these experiments demonstrate a “first is best” effect and we offer possible interpretations based on evolutionary mechanisms of this “bound” on rational behavior and suggest that automaticity of judgment may be a helpful principle in clarifying previous inconsistencies in the empirical record on the effects of order on preference and choice.
See: The Advantages of Being First (Science Daily)
Source: PLoS ONE
Do people believe that sharing food might involve sharing more than just food? To investigate this, participants were asked to rate how jealous they (Study 1) – or their best friend (Study 2) – would be if their current romantic partner were contacted by an ex-romantic partner and subsequently engaged in an array of food- and drink-based activities. We consistently find – across both men and women – that meals elicit more jealousy than face-to-face interactions that do not involve eating, such as having coffee. These findings suggest that people generally presume that sharing a meal enhances cooperation. In the context of romantic pairs, we find that participants are attuned to relationship risks that extra-pair commensality can present. For romantic partners left out of a meal, we find a common view that lunch, for example, is not “just lunch.”
See: It’s not just lunch (EurekAlert!)