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Remote Presence in Nature through Virtual Reality: A Pilot Study on the Mental Well-Being of Older Adults

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By 2030, the number of people above the age of 65 is projected to outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in United States history. With a growing older population, it is predicted that the amount

By 2030, the number of people above the age of 65 is projected to outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in United States history. With a growing older population, it is predicted that the amount of people moving into nursing homes and care facilities will also increase. However, a pressing problem is the high prevalence of depression and anxiety among elderly people residing in institutionalized living arrangements. With drugs and antidepressants less effective at treating patients with both dementia and depression, there is a need for more non-pharmacological interventions geared toward improving older adults’ mental well-being. In response, the potential therapeutic effect of exploring virtual nature through EcoRift—which provides dynamic and realistic 360-degree audio and visual environments—on older adults’ mental well-being was examined in this study. Ten individuals (3 men and 7 women) aged 50 and above were recruited and each participant experienced the virtual nature sojourns for 15 minutes once a week, for a total of three weeks. Pre- and post- virtual reality (VR) survey questionnaires were implemented to gauge the participants’ emotional response, including overall well-being and level of relaxation. Physiological measures such as heart rate and blood pressure were also taken before and after the VR experience. Findings show that immersion in nature through virtual reality improves older adults’ mental well-being by eliciting a transient sense of relaxation, peacefulness, and happiness. Further studies need to be performed in order to validate EcoRift’s effect on physiology; however, preliminary data suggests that immersive virtual nature also acts to decrease blood pressure. Overall, EcoRift shows to be a promising tool for bridging access to remote natural environments and may be a mentally beneficial activity for patients isolated in hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes.

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2019-05

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A Cross-cultural Analysis of the Emotional Effects of Climate Change

Description

Climate change presents a significant threat to human health, both mental and physical; as a result, it has become one of the most commonly discussed phenomena of the 21st century. As many people are aware, a wide range of social

Climate change presents a significant threat to human health, both mental and physical; as a result, it has become one of the most commonly discussed phenomena of the 21st century. As many people are aware, a wide range of social and physical factors affects mental health. However, many people fail to realize that these increases global temperatures also have a significant impact on mental health as a result of increased vulnerability that is often manifested through one's emotions. By analyzing perceptions of people across the globe, in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Fiji, we were able to pinpoint these emotions and trace them individual's feelings of worry, distress, and hope that resulted from their perceived impacts on climate change. Overall, we found that people tend to have overall more negative emotional reaction when it comes to the perceived effects of climate change. Of the respondents, more men than women expressed concern regarding the various negative implications. Finally, those in the United Kingdom exhibited a stronger emotional response, followed by those in New Zealand and Fiji, respectively.

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2017-05

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An Ethical Evaluation of the Boarding of Psychiatric Patients in the Emergency Department

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My thesis project, "An Ethical Evaluation of the Practice of Psychiatric Patient Boarding in the Emergency Department" sets out to address a relatively nameless problem in the healthcare system in the United States. This problem is the boarding of psychiatric

My thesis project, "An Ethical Evaluation of the Practice of Psychiatric Patient Boarding in the Emergency Department" sets out to address a relatively nameless problem in the healthcare system in the United States. This problem is the boarding of psychiatric patients in emergency departments nationwide. What is psychiatric patient boarding? This term refers to the increasingly common practice of care provided to psychiatric patients upon arrival at an emergency department. When inpatient psychiatric beds or services are not available, "boarding" is performed by simply storing mentally ill patients in hallways or other emergency room areas while they wait for the availability of psychiatric treatment, which may take hours, or in more extreme cases has been cited to last for days at a time (Alakeson et. al, 2010). While any individual can expect to wait a prolonged period of time for medical care in the increasingly overcrowded emergency departments, the psychiatric patient experience is astonishingly unique. A psychiatric patient presenting, or arriving, at the ED in crisis can often times find him or herself not only waiting hours to be admitted and assessed as a medical patient would, but with a limited and ever attenuating supply of psychiatric treatment rooms and services, these patients will often times be harbored in an ED room designed for short-term medical treatment without care until psychiatric services become available. Patients can be left waiting for days for an in-patient vacancy; all the while not receiving true psychiatric treatment and in some cases being held against their will in a chaotic environment far from conducive for treatment of a mental health ailment. In this analysis, I will discuss and review aspects of psychiatric patient boarding from various literature, such as why boarding occurs from a hospital and historical standpoint, negative implications of boarding for psychiatric and medical patients, and the burden placed on the hospital when practicing psychiatric boarding. To learn further on the topic, I will share the results from 14 semi-structured, qualitative interviews performed with ED healthcare professionals, being physicians, charge nurses, nursing staff, and certified nursing assistants or patient safety advocates. This portion of my investigation is designed to offer a perspective that the literature cannot, being a first hand outlook on psychiatric boarding from those working on the front line, focusing on topics of all aspects, such as causation, consequences for all involved parties, and proposed solutions.

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2017-05

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An Anxious Person's Guide to Getting Better

Description

More than 260 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder worldwide, with 40 million in the U.S. alone—18% of the American population. And that label includes everything from Social Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

More than 260 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder worldwide, with 40 million in the U.S. alone—18% of the American population. And that label includes everything from Social Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Thus, people with anxiety may not have a singular cause for their worry, but a myriad number of them that influence every aspect of their lives. And, that doesn’t include people who’ve never been formally diagnosed and don’t receive proper medication or therapy.

Unfortunately, medication has many possible side effects, and both medication and therapy are often expensive. However, there are alternatives for someone dealing with anxiety. This book proposal offers a range of solutions for anxiety management, from do it yourself techniques like guided imagery and yoga, to biofeedback devices like HeartMath, to research trials on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, as well as Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The idea was not to outline every potential solution for anxiety, but to educate people on available opportunities and empower them to take control.

Though anxiety can be managed and reduced, there is no cure. That’s because anxiety is a normal part of life, and in most cases a helpful evolutionary tool to keep people on track. But, when this anxiety becomes a burden on someone’s life, there is a plethora of alternative solutions available. Understanding anxiety and learning to manage it is not an impossible task. This thesis provides an introduction to the idea and then allows the reader to move forward on their own path as they choose.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Health Disparities Among LGB Women From Experiences With Their Healthcare Providers

Description

This study investigates how the patient-provider relationship between lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and their healthcare providers influences their access to, utilization of, and experiences within healthcare environments. Nineteen participants, ages 18 to 34, were recruited using convenience and snowball

This study investigates how the patient-provider relationship between lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and their healthcare providers influences their access to, utilization of, and experiences within healthcare environments. Nineteen participants, ages 18 to 34, were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. Interviews were conducted inquiring about their health history and their experiences within the healthcare system in the context of their sexual orientation. The data collected from these interviews was used to create an analysis of the healthcare experiences of those who identify as queer. Although the original intention of the project was to chronicle the experiences of LGB women specifically, there were four non-binary gender respondents who contributed interviews. In an effort to not privilege any orientation over another, the respondents were collectively referred to as queer, given the inclusive and an encompassing nature of the term. The general conclusion of this study is that respondents most often experienced heterosexism rather than outright homophobia when accessing healthcare. If heterosexism was present within the healthcare setting, it made respondents feel uncomfortable with their providers and less likely to inform them of their sexuality even if it was medically relevant to their health outcomes. Gender, race, and,socioeconomic differences also had an effect on the patient-provider relationship. Non-binary respondents acknowledged the need for inclusion of more gender options outside of male or female on the reporting forms often seen in medical offices. By doing so, medical professionals are acknowledging their awareness and knowledge of people outside of the binary gender system, thus improving the experience of these patients. While race and socioeconomic status were less relevant to the context of this study, it was found that these factors have an affect on the patient-provider relationship. There are many suggestions for providers to improve the experiences of queer patients within the healthcare setting. This includes nonverbal indications of acknowledgement and acceptance, such as signs in the office that indicate it to be a queer friendly space. This will help in eliminating the fear and miscommunication that can often happen when a queer patient sees a practitioner for the first time. In addition, better education on medically relevant topics to queer patients, is necessary in order to eliminate disparities in health outcomes. This is particularly evident in trans health, where specialized education is necessary in order to decrease poor health outcomes in trans patients. Future directions of this study necessitate a closer look on how race and socioeconomic status have an effect on a queer patient's relationship with their provider.

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Date Created
2016-05

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An Examination of Dimensions of Social Support and Their Associations with Mexican-Origin Adolescent Mothers' Mental Health

Description

Social support for Mexican-origin adolescent mothers can benefit mental health. Currently, there is little research on specific dimensions of social support and how they change during the beginning years of parenthood, and even less focusing on the influence each dimension

Social support for Mexican-origin adolescent mothers can benefit mental health. Currently, there is little research on specific dimensions of social support and how they change during the beginning years of parenthood, and even less focusing on the influence each dimension has on adolescent mothers' mental health. This study sought to fill such gaps through the analysis of data from the Supporting MAMI Project at Arizona State University. First, the current study assessed perceptions of emotional, instrumental, and companionship support received from mother figures by Mexican-origin adolescent mothers (N = 204; Mean age at Wave 1 = 16.24, SD = .99) across five years through descriptive statistics and univariate latent growth models. Second, the study assessed the strength of the impact that each dimension of social support had on mental health across six years via conditional growth models. Findings indicated that each dimension of social support shifted in a bi-linear spline shape from Wave 1 to Wave 6, with growth parameters' significance varying for each dimension of support. Each dimension of support was significantly related to depressive symptoms at Wave 6, with varying degrees of influence across growth parameters. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Mental Health of Sikh American Adolescents: A Thematic Literature Review

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The purpose of the current research is to synthesize and analyze the available literature on the mental health of Sikh American adolescents, addressing gaps and proposing areas of further research. It assesses and compares perceptions of mental health in both

The purpose of the current research is to synthesize and analyze the available literature on the mental health of Sikh American adolescents, addressing gaps and proposing areas of further research. It assesses and compares perceptions of mental health in both Asian Indian and Sikh demographics, as the majority of Sikhs are ethnically Asian Indian. The research is also intended to supplement the current understanding of mental health in the Sikh community with a discussion on the culturally-based risk and protective factors for mental health and Western mental health care access.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Association of Mental Health Stigma with Marital Quality in Police Wives

Description

Previous research on law enforcement officers has not included studies of marital relationships from the spouse perspective, and tend to focus on workplace-based manifestations of stress and other health issues. This study fills a gap in current research by surveying

Previous research on law enforcement officers has not included studies of marital relationships from the spouse perspective, and tend to focus on workplace-based manifestations of stress and other health issues. This study fills a gap in current research by surveying police wives about their personal experiences of marriage to law enforcement officers, and mental health as it relates to themselves and their husbands. We examined the association of mental health stigma with marital quality in a sample of 969 police wives. We found a significant negative association between wives’ perceptions of police officers’ mental health stigma and marital quality, and additionally that wife characteristics of positive emotion and reappraisal are positively associated with marital quality, but do not act as moderators. We also discussed methods of reducing negative impacts of mental health stigma on marital quality, specifically mandatory police officer counseling and marital quality interventions.

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Date Created
2021-05

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The Adverse Effects of Drone Strike Warfare on the Psychological Health of Affected Victims and Children in Waziristan, Pakistan

Description

The use of drone warfare in Pakistan has long been a contentious topic. Drones have had a number of adverse effects on the people of Waziristan. The focus of this thesis will be on the effects drone warfare have had

The use of drone warfare in Pakistan has long been a contentious topic. Drones have had a number of adverse effects on the people of Waziristan. The focus of this thesis will be on the effects drone warfare have had on the mental and psychological health of the victims and children of Waziristan. Scholarly articles, research studies, and reports were researched in order to discuss the background of drone strikes in Waziristan, the legality of drone warfare, the data around drone strike casualties in Waziristan, and the effects of drone strikes on the psychological and mental health of children and victims in Waziristan. After discussion of these topics, several suggestions for reparations for the people of Waziristan are addressed in the conclusion.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Health & Wealthness Podcast

Description

Health and Wealthness is a podcast where your hosts, Emily Weigel and Hanaa Khan discuss pressing and trending topics about health and wealth that everyone should know about. Our first four episodes focus on the opioid crisis. Both the science

Health and Wealthness is a podcast where your hosts, Emily Weigel and Hanaa Khan discuss pressing and trending topics about health and wealth that everyone should know about. Our first four episodes focus on the opioid crisis. Both the science and healthcare sides. We then go on to talk about burnout and mental health in a conversational episode.

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2021-05