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August 5, 2010, 7:04 AM CT

Key to success of healing prayer

Key to success of healing prayer
Findings reported today (Aug. 5) from a new international study of healing prayer suggest that prayer for another person's healing just might help -- particularly if the one praying is physically near the person being prayed for.

Candy Gunther Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, led the study of "proximal intercessory prayer" for healing. It is available online today and would be reported in the September 2010 issue of the Southern Medical Journal

The study, titled "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique," measured surprising improvements in vision and hearing in economically disadvantaged areas where eyeglasses and hearing aids are not readily available.

An advance copy of the study is available previous to online publication from Bridget Garland at smjedit@etsu.edu.

"We chose to investigate 'proximal' prayer because that is how a lot of prayer for healing is actually practiced by Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world," Brown said. "These constitute the fastest-growing Christian subgroups globally, with some 500 million adherents, and they are among those most likely to pray expectantly for healing."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 22, 2010, 7:42 AM CT

Summer reading keeps skills strong

Summer reading keeps skills strong
To children, the summer slide means water, garden hoses and slippery plastic sheets. To teachers, the "summer slide" is the noted decrease in reading skills after a vacation without books.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, faculty members Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen have completed a three-year study showing a significantly higher level of reading achievement in students who received books for summer reading at home. Allington and McGill-Franzen are both professors of education; McGill-Franzen is also director of the Reading Center in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.

Allington compares the slide in reading ability to an athlete's fitness.

"Just like hockey players lose some of their skills if they stay off their skates and off the ice for three months, children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development," Allington said.

As per the professors' research, the summer reading setback is the primary reason for the reading achievement gap between children who have access to reading materials at home and those who do not. Students who do not have books at home miss out on opportunities to read. Those missed opportunities can really add up.

"What we know is that children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development while kids who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency," Allington said. "This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three years the kids who don't read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do." .........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 21, 2010, 6:10 AM CT

Children's school performance tied to family "type"

Children's school performance tied to family
The way a family interacts can have more of an impact on a child's predicted school success than reading, writing or arithmetic, as per a University of Notre Dame study published recently in the Journal of Child Development.

University of Notre Dame Professor of Psychology Mark Cummings and his colleagues at the University of Rochester studied the relationship patterns of some 300 families (with six year-olds) over the course of three years, and found distinct family-school connections. Specific family "types" emerged as predictors of school success:

"Coming from a cohesive family, in which members tend to be warm and responsive to one another, where problems are resolved, and members cope well, increases the likelihood of children doing well in school," as per Cummings.

Children from enmeshed families, characterized by over involvement, hostility and only moderate warmth, enter school with no more problems than their cohesive family peers, but suffer more anxiety and feelings of alienation later, Cummings explains.

The third family type, "detached," in which all problems are avoided, in which hostility is present, and without displays of affection, tend to have children with the most problems.

"They often start school with more disruptive behavior and higher levels of aggression and difficulty cooperating," Cummings explains.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 21, 2010, 6:05 AM CT

Depression overlooked in patients with hepatitis C

Depression overlooked in patients with hepatitis C
Scientists from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland (the NORDynamIC project group) have found that depressive symptoms in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are usually overlooked in routine clinical interviews, and that therapy-induced depression compromises the outcome of HCV treatment. A second U.S. study observed that patients with chronic infection had lower (work) productivity and incurred higher medical benefit costs than those without HCV. Both studies are available in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

HCV is a blood-born infection causing inflammation and destruction of liver cells. When inflammation lasts longer than six months there is ongoing liver cell injury which is defined as chronic HCV. The standard therapy protocol for chronic HCV is weekly injections of peg-interferon alfa-2a in combination with daily oral ribavirin for 24 to 48 weeks. However, this combination therapy can lead to major depression or other psychiatric complications in many HCV patients which may require premature termination of the antiviral treatment.

Peter Leutscher, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues estimated the value of routine medical interviews in diagnosing depression in chronic HCV patients receiving peg-interferon/ribavirin treatment using the Major Depression Inventory (MDI). The MDI is a self-rating depression scale with a dual functionality in diagnosing major depression and in measurement of depression severity. Of the 325 HCV patients enrolled in the study, 6% were observed with major depression at baseline. Among the remaining 306 patients, 37% (n=114) developed depression while on HCV combination treatment. "As per the MDI criteria, we observed that only 32% of the 114 patients with major depression were correctly diagnosed during routine medical interviews," noted Dr. Leutscher.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 16, 2010, 7:20 AM CT

Behavior Problems in School

Behavior Problems in School
Melissa Sturge-Apple
Contrary to Leo Tolstoy's famous observation that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," a new psychology study confirms that unhappy families, in fact, are unhappy in two distinct ways. And these dual patterns of unhealthy family relationships lead to a host of specific difficulties for children during their early school years.

"Families can be a support and resource for children as they enter school, or they can be a source of stress, distraction, and maladaptive behavior," says Melissa Sturge-Apple, the lead researcher on the paper and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

"This study shows that cold and controlling family environments are associated with a growing cascade of difficulties for children in their first three years of school, from aggressive and disruptive behavior to depression and alienation," Sturge-Apple explains. "The study also finds that children from families marked by high levels of conflict and intrusive parenting increasingly struggle with anxiety and social withdrawal as they navigate their early school years."

The three-year study, published July 15 in Child Development, examines relationship patterns in 234 families with six-year-old children. The research team identified three distinct family profiles: one happy, termed cohesive, and two unhappy, termed disengaged and enmeshed.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 14, 2010, 7:43 AM CT

Superstition Might Improve Performance

Superstition Might Improve Performance
Don't scoff at those lucky rabbit feet. New research shows that having some kind of lucky token can actually improve your performance - by increasing your self-confidence.

"I watch a lot of sports, and I read about sports, and I noticed that very often athletes - also famous athletes - hold superstitions," says Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne. Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts underneath his NBA uniform for good luck; Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on tournament Sundays, commonly the last and most important day of a tournament. "And I was wondering, why are they doing so?" Damisch thought that a belief in superstition might help people do better by improving their confidence. With her colleagues Barbara Stoberock and Thomas Mussweiler, also of the University of Cologne, she designed a set of experiments to see if activating people's superstitious beliefs would improve their performance on a task.

In one of the experiments, volunteers were told to bring a lucky charm with them. Then the scientists took it away to take a picture. People brought in all kinds of items, from old stuffed animals to wedding rings to lucky stones. Half of the volunteers were given their charm back before the test started; the other half were told there was a problem with the camera equipment and they would get it back later. Volunteers who had their lucky charm did better at a memory game on the computer, and other tests showed that this difference was because they felt more confident. They also set higher goals for themselves. Just wishing someone good luck - with "I press the thumbs for you," the German version of crossing your fingers - improved volunteers' success at a task that mandatory manual dexterity. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 9, 2010, 7:22 AM CT

Happier youths are also healthier youths

Happier youths are also healthier youths
Happier youths are also healthier youths, as per Emily Shaffer-Hudkins and her team, from the University of South Florida in the US. Adolescents' positive emotions and moods, as well as their satisfaction with life, could be more important than their anxiety or depression levels for predicting their physical health, they argue. Looking at teenagers' so-called 'subjective well-being' could help identify those likely to develop health problems in the future and target them with appropriate prevention strategies. Shaffer-Hudkins' work1 is published in Springer's journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

To date, the majority of the research looking at the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people has focused primarily on how symptoms of poor mental health, or psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression, relate to physical functioning. This approach fails to take into account the potential influence of positive indicators of mental health, such as positive emotions and mood states and life satisfaction, known as subjective well-being.

Shaffer-Hudkins' study is the first to look at both positive and negative indicators of mental health in relation to physical health in a sample of 401 students in grades 6-8 from a suburban southeastern middle school in the United States. The teenagers rated their satisfaction with life, whether they had recently felt excited, strong and proud (positive affect) as well as lonely, guilty and sad (negative affect). They were also asked about feeling withdrawn, anxious and depressed and about delinquent and aggressive behavior (all indicators of psychopathology). Finally, they told scientists about their physical health.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 8, 2010, 7:01 AM CT

Teens drink more during summer before college

Teens drink more during summer before college
Summertime and the living is easy. But not too easy for parents whose children will head to college in the fall.

University of Rhode Island Psychology Professor Mark Wood, a nationally recognized alcohol researcher, wants parents to be aware that this is a time when teens tend to increase their alcohol consumption.

The URI expert advises parents to monitor their children--know where they are, whom they are with and what they are doing.

"This type of monitoring, especially in combination with an emotionally supportive parenting style, is linked to less drinking and fewer alcohol-related problems across numerous studies," Wood said.

"It is also important for parents to express clear disapproval of alcohol use and to provide clear and fair consequences linked to breaking the rules. Research shows this combination of factors decreases alcohol use and problems through adolescence and into college," continued Wood who helps create interventions to reduce alcohol related-harm, especially among college-age students. Results of his recent study bear this out.

Is Wood advocating that parents become helicopter parents--ones who hover over their children and their problems or experiences, particularly when they are in college?

"We live in a era when students are texting and talking to parents, sometimes a number of times a day. Eventhough the term helicopter parent does have a negative connotation, I think conversations about drinking are good whenever and wherever they occur," said the researcher.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:12 AM CT

About teenage drinking

About teenage drinking
An African study has observed a link between a difficult childhood and alcohol consumption as a teenager. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health studied the association between adverse childhood experiences and drunkenness among 9,189 adolescents aged 12-19 years living in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda.

Dr. Caroline Kabiru and a team of researcher from the African Population and Health Research Center , Nairobi, Kenya conducted the study. They noted, "Overall, 9% of adolescents reported that they had been drunk in the 12 months preceding the survey. In general, respondents who had lived in a food-insecure household, lived with a problem drinker, been physically abused, or been coerced into having sex were more likely to report drunkenness".

There has previously been little research into the determinants of alcohol use among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers' work is supported by similar studies in other parts of the world, which also draw a link between adverse childhood experiences and future drinking. Speaking about the findings, Dr. Kabiru said, "Early therapy for traumatic childhood experiences appears to be an essential component of interventions designed to prevent alcohol abuse among adolescents".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:11 AM CT

Virtual food in eating disorders

Virtual food in eating disorders
This is the VR environment used in the experiment.

Credit: Gorini et al., Annals of General Psychiatry

Food presented in a virtual reality (VR) environment causes the same emotional responses as real food. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Annals of General Psychiatry compared the responses of people with anorexia and bulimia, and a control group, to the virtual and real-life snacks, suggesting that virtual food can be used for the assessment and therapy of eating disorders.

Alessandra Gorini from the Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy, worked with an international team of scientists to compare the effects of the exposure to real food, virtual food and photographs of food in a sample of patients affected by eating disorders. She said, "Though preliminary, our data show that virtual stimuli are as effective as real ones, and more effective than static pictures, in generating emotional responses in eating disorder patients".

The 10 anorexic, 10 bulimic and 10 control participants, all women, were initially shown a series of 6 real high-calorie foods placed on a table in front of them. Their heart rate and skin conductance, as well as their psychological stress were measured during the exposure. This process was then repeated with a slideshow of the same foods, and a VR trip into a computer-generated diner where they could interact with the virtual version of the same 6 items. The participants' level of stress was statistically identical whether in virtual reality or real exposure.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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