Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Religion or Spirituality Has Positive Impact on Romantic/Marital Relationships, Child Development, Research Shows

From the 8 December 2014 American Psychological Association press release

Praying for partners, spiritual intimacy, attending services with parents may improve quality of life

WASHINGTON — Adolescents who attend religious services with one or both of their parents are more likely to feel greater well-being while romantic partners who pray for their “significant others” experience greater relationship commitment, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

These were among the findings of studies published in two special sections of APA’s Journal of Family Psychology® looking at how spiritual beliefs or behaviors have appeared to strengthen generally happy marriages and how a person’s religious and/or spiritual functioning may influence that of his or her family members.

“These studies exemplify an emerging subfield called relational spirituality, which focuses on the ways that diverse couples and families can rely on specific spiritual beliefs and behaviors, for better or worse, to motivate them to create, maintain and transform their intimate relationships,” according to Annette Mahoney, PhD, of Bowling Green State University, and Annamarie Cano, PhD, of Wayne State University, who edited special sections in the December and October issues of the journal. “Hopefully, publishing these articles will spur more research on ways that religion and spirituality can help or harm couples’ and families’ relationships and encourage more interchange between family psychology and the psychology of religion and spirituality.”

The December issue features five studies that offer novel insights into how religiosity or spiritualism affect children’s development and influence the importance of religion in their own lives.

The October section comprises four studies that focus on the ways that couples can draw on religious/spiritual beliefs and behaviors to transform their unions and help them cope with adversity. “Each of the studies in the October special section moves beyond general measures of people’s involvement in organized religion or spirituality and investigates specific spiritual beliefs or behaviors that appear to influence marital adjustment and human development,” according to APA President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, editor of the Journal of Family Psychology. “All the studies present rigorous research into the roles that religion and spirituality can play in enhancing family well-being.”

Articles in the December issue

Religious Socialization in African American Families: The Relative Influence of Parents, Grandparents, and Siblings (PDF, 110KB) by Ian A. Gutierrez, MA, University of Connecticut; Lucas J. Goodwin, MA, New York University; Katherine Kirkinis, MA, Teachers College, Columbia University; and Jacqueline S. Mattis, PhD, New York University.

Looking at three generations, the researchers found that mothers have the most consistently positive influence on the religious lives of their children “because they are socialized to transmit critical values, beliefs and practices across generations, and because they embrace norms of femininity that reinforce such roles.” Additionally, grandparents — especially grandmothers — play a significant role in the religious socialization of grandchildren in African-American families, according to this research.

Contact:Ian Gutierrez

Neighborhood Disorder, Spiritual Well-Being, and Parenting Stress in African American Women (PDF, 98KB) by Dorian A. Lamis, PhD, and Christina K. Wilson, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine; Nicholas Tarantino, MA, Georgia State University; Jennifer E. Lansford, PhD, Duke University; and Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine

Read the entire press release here

On a related note...Nearly half of U.S. kids exposed to traumatic social or family experiences during childhood.

A quote “Broken down by state, Utah had the lowest number of children experiencing two or more traumatic experiences (16.3 percent) while Oklahoma had the highest (32.8 percent).” Wondering if religion/spirituality is a factor?

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Social Medicines’ Do Benefit Health and Wellbeing

Seems to be a mix of personal responsibility and government/social policy

From the 6 November 2012 article at Science Daily

‘Social medicines’ are beneficial to the health and wellbeing of individuals and the population. By combining social and biological information from UK Longitudinal studies (life-course studies) researchers have identified that the more ‘social medicines’ you have, the better your physical and mental health. These include a stable family life, stress-free childhood, alcohol-free culture for young people, secure and rewarding employment, positive relationships with friends and neighbours, and a socially active old age…

..

The booklet is available to download free of charge from the ICLS website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/icls/publications/booklets. Hardcopies are also available on request…

Researchers from the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health (ICLS) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are releasing a plain English guide to their research demonstrating how ‘Life gets under your skin’ as part of the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science in November.

A stable family life where children have secure routines, including being read to and taken on outings by their parents, is more likely to result in them being ready to take in what will be offered at school (school-readiness). Getting a flying start at school is one of the most important pathways towards wellbeing later in life.

An environment free of constant bombardment with cigarette and alcohol advertisements helps adolescents avoid the first steps towards addiction. People with more friends have higher levels of health and wellbeing — and researchers have found this to be almost as important as avoiding smoking over the longer term. A supportive social network can make all the difference as people confront the problems of aging, helping them to maintain a high quality of life for many years.

The booklet demonstrates how social policy related to family life, education, employment and welfare can have beneficial effects for the health of individuals. It also shows how multi disciplinary, longitudinal research can deliver findings valuable to the individual, society and the economy.

 

 

 

November 6, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workstation – Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague – NYTimes.com and Related Article about Lonliness in General

Workstation – Building a Bridge to a Lonely Colleague – NYTimes.com

From the 28 January article

IT’S lonely at the top, or so it is said. But in fact it doesn’t matter where a person is in the office hierarchy — employees at all levels become lonely, even when other workers are all around them….

Because it is part of the human condition, loneliness is often regarded as a personal problem. But managers may need to view it as an organizational issue as well, according to research by Professor Barsade and Hakan Ozcelik, an associate business professor at California State University, Sacramento.

In a recent study of more than 650 workers, the two researchers found that loneliness — as reported both by the sufferer and his or her co-workers — reduces an employee’s productivity. This was true on both individual and team-oriented tasks.

Just look at what loneliness can do to a person, and you’ll see why. “Loneliness tends to distort social cognition and influences an individual’s interpersonal behavior, resulting in increased hostility, negativity, depressed mood, increased anxiety, lack of perceived control and decreased cooperativeness,” Dr. Wright says.

Professor Barsade is investigating whether loneliness may also be “contagious,” the way she has found emotions like anger and happiness to be in the workplace…

Read the entire NY Times article 

 

Feeling Left Out? Being Ignored Hurts, Even By A Stranger

From the Fri Jan 27, 2012 Medical News Today article

Feeling like you’re part of the gang is crucial to the human experience. All people get stressed out when we’re left out. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a feeling of inclusion can come from something as simple as eye contact from a stranger. Psychologists already know that humans have to feel connected to each other to be happy. A knitting circle, a church choir, or a friendly neighbor can all feed that need for connection. Eric D…

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Structure deep within the brain may contribute to a rich, varied social life

Structure deep within the brain may contribute to a rich, varied social life

From a December 26, 2010 Eureka news alert

Scientists have discovered that the amygdala, a small almond shaped structure deep within the temporal lobe, is important to a rich and varied social life among humans. The finding was published this week in a new study in Nature Neuroscience and is similar to previous findings in other primate species, which compared the size and complexity of social groups across those species.

“We know that primates who live in larger social groups have a larger amygdala, even when controlling for overall brain size and body size,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, who led the study. “We considered a single primate species, humans, and found that the amygdala volume positively correlated with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans.”…

“This link between amygdala size and social network size and complexity was observed for both older and younger individuals and for both men and women,” says Bradford C. Dickerson, MD, of the MGH Department of Neurology and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Research. “This link was specific to the amygdala, because social network size and complexity were not associated with the size of other brain structures.” Dickerson is an associate professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and co-led the study with Dr. Barrett….

…A member of the the Martinos Center at MGH, Barrett also notes that the results of the study were consistent with the “social brain hypothesis,” which suggests that the human amygdala might have evolved partially to deal with an increasingly complex social life. “Further research is in progress to try to understand more about how the amygdala and other brain regions are involved in social behavior in humans,” she says. “We and other researchers are also trying to understand how abnormalities in these brain regions may impair social behavior in neurologic and psychiatric disorders.”

 

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

   

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