PSY 5301 Research
PSY 5301 Research
To my surprise, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts are not just places where people express there personal issues and biases. Until this week, I thought Twitter was a glorified texting site where individuals told the world how they felt about one thing or another. My occasional exposure to Facebook gave me the impression it, too, was only for people to share there personal engagements and opinions. It had never occurred to me, to search further into these sites for relevant information about what is going on in Health Psychology. There is quite a wide variety of information that can be gleaned from the large amount of information posted on both sites. Of course it is necessary to evaluate and corroborate everything you read but again, there are a lot of good finds available through these social pages.
There are lots of people and organizations promoting their courses, trainings, and research data. Some are from specific doctors of Health Psychology regarding there personal activities and practices but there are posts from various educational institutions like UCL Health Psychology and The Mayo Clinic. Of note to me were the posts from institutions outside the United States like Scotland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The particular threads I saw were requesting subjects for various studies or were circulating information about internships available for health psychologists, some for collaborations and others for paid positions, nice.
Topics I most often found covered were subjects on stress and anxiety. I suppose that makes sense because that is a big influence on mental health which is a significant aspect in Health Psychology. But again to my surprise, I ran across an article which covered a topic that I have been considering as an area of research, bariatric surgery and it’s sequela on the physical as well as mental health of the individual. The post was listed by the Society for Health Psychology APA Division 38 as “New research on Health Psychology!”. The post was dated March 18 and had the words bariatric and relationship in its descriptive lead, I clicked on it to read more. This led me to the American Psychological Association journal abstract published in APA PsycNet. The work cited was titled “The relationship of pre surgical Personality Assessment Inventory Scales to BMI following bariatric surgery” Hoyt, T., & Walter, F. A. (2022). Without purchasing full access to the entire research, the abstract describes the author’s objectives, methodologies, results, and conclusions. There were links available to read other abstracts which support his work. I was impressed reading of the various research techniques these abstracts listed. An example is a reference to “reliability, validity, and clinical utility” ( Tarescavage, A. M., et al 2013). These abstracts also described their experimental designs which I learned something about in chapter 2 of Health Psychology An introduction to Behavior and Health, 9th edition.
Another fascinating find for me was an unpublished article on the Society for Health Psychology.org web home page called “Healthy, Wealthy, and Weiss” (Walston 1996). It is found under their history tab and is a lengthy chapter submission for the American Psychological Association 50th anniversary edition. It chronicles and describes the formation and history of the APA divisions. A google browser search of the APA 50th anniversary edition finds the article published in 1997 in PDF form on researchgate.net with 16 references and 10 citations the most recent of which was in 2021. Seeing how others have cited the article was enlightening because I, again, recently learned that the citation of a published piece lends to it’s significance.
My overall experience with these two sites this week has been good. I have found there are many tracks available to follow. I have found caution and care is required to stay focused and to be accurate in both following and understanding information put out on these and any other sites for that matter, but they sure can be worth the time and effort,
Current research trends in health psychology as shown on Facebook
Exploring the Society of Health Psychology APA Division 38 (SfHP) on Facebook, looking back at posts over the past
several months, I was unsurprised to see how many papers have been written on different aspects of coping with the pandemic. New to the field of health psychology as I am, it has been interesting to note that, if one reason health psychology evolved in the 1970’s is because chronic disease rather than infectious disease became the primary cause of death among Americans (Brannon et al, 2014, p. 3), then it seems that COVID-19 reversed that evolution.
Other than studies prompted by the pandemic, there were a few articles posted by SfHP regarding obesity. One of these articles (posted March 18, 2022) I found intriguing since it was not merely a correlational study of body mass index (BMI) with lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise. This study compared presurgical personality assessment scores to BMI over time on 194 patients following bariatric surgery. The results were interesting in that, “Contrary to expectations, moderate elevations on anxiety-related disorders and mania were associated with a greater initial linear trend for BMI decrease, with a steeper slope for weight gain after approximately 3 years” (Hoyt & Walter, 2022, p. 184).
Another article that jumped out at me was titled: “Area-level racial prejudice and health: A systematic review” (posted March 19, 2022). This article was a systematic literature review of 14,632 articles, which impressed me by the sample size alone. Final results showed that only 14 of these articles met inclusion criteria, which meant that only 14 studies did not reveal racially prejudice data that might impede “advancing a population’s health” (Board, 2022, p. 211).
The present research trend toward overcoming pandemic challenges is certainly understandable to keep our population healthy. Unlike a century ago, when “people felt very limited responsibility for contracting a contagious disease because such disease was not controllable” (Brannon et al, 2014, p. 3), we do now understand how to prevent the spread of coronavirus and presently have effective vaccines. Yet, many Americans continue to be skeptical, if not openly hostile, in regards to becoming vaccinated and complying with other preventative measures. Health psychologists working to change public opinion in communities with these beliefs must often feel as if they are up against the lack of knowledge that persisted a century ago. Some health psychologists may feel as if they are working in the 1970’s, when the typical work of a health psychologist was to change behavior and lifestyle choices to prevent disease (Brannon et al, 2014).
A personal observation, which some of the SfHP postings touched upon, is how my elderly friends and family seem to take the pandemic more in-stride than younger Americans I know. Perhaps this is because our elderly grew up with it being common to lose someone quickly to an infectious disease. My 83-year-old mother nearly died from whooping cough when she was 7-years-old, for example, and has lived with chronic scaring in her lungs ever since. A couple months ago, I read a fascinating paper which addressed the perception of many North Americans viewing disease as an enemy to be conquered and medical practitioners preferring such “restitution stories” because then their “cure is a version of conquering that enemy” (Frank 1998, p. 201). I will pose the thought that perhaps one reason younger Americans have had difficulty adapting to the constraints and stress that COVID-19 has caused is because these generations have been influenced by the perception that our elderly now have: Living with a chronic illness is the new norm and people no longer have to fear dying suddenly from an infectious disease. With such a perception, a highly infectious disease such as the coronavirus variants, which can quickly kill even a young adult, has been a tremendous shock to younger Americans.
Brannon, L., Feist, J., & Updegraff, J.A. (2014). Health Psychology: An Introduction to
Behavior and Health (8th Ed.). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Frank, A.W. (1998). Just Listening: Narrative and Deep Illness. Families, Systems &
Health, 16(3), 197-212.
Hoyt, T., & Walter, F. A. (2022). The relationship of presurgical Personality Assessment
Inventory scales to BMI following bariatric surgery. Health Psychology, 41(3), 184–192. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0001142
Michaels, E. K., Board, C., Mujahid, M. S., Riddell, C. A., Chae, D. H., Johnson, R. C., & Allen,
- M. (2022). Area-level racial prejudice and health: A systematic review. Health Psychology, 41(3), 211–224. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0001141