Although college can be an exciting time, many students feel extreme pressure to succeed both academically and socially, and this can lead to serious distress.
A new study at New York University (NYU) finds that even someone as close as a roommate may not recognize just how stressed their living partner is. With a little training, however, roommates may be in the best position to help detect each other’s distress and offer support.
“College students can detect certain levels of distress in their roommates and spot changes over the course of a semester, but they nonetheless underestimate the absolute level of distress,” said Dr. Patrick Shrout, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author.
Although the study participants had not been trained to spot distress, the researchers suggest that, with proper training, college roomates are in a good place to help identify students who are struggling with their mental health.
“More universal training on how to identify and respond to the distress of peers might have the benefit of encouraging conversations among roommates about what actions each might take if he or she notices another experiencing extreme distress,” write Shrout and lead author and doctoral student Qi Xu, in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
The study involved 187 same-sex undergraduate roommate pairs who included Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, and biracial students. At two points during the academic year — February and April — each roommate in the pair reported his or her own distress level as well as that perceived in the other roommate. Comparing these reports allowed the researchers to quantify accuracy and bias.
The findings show that the roommate pairs systematically underestimated each other’s levels of distress, and that students tended to believe their partner’s distress was similar to their own. Even so, the roommates’ evaluations of one another did reflect a component of truth: The students who were judged to be most distressed were those who tended to self-report extreme distress.
Because the survey was conducted twice, the researchers were able to see which students were becoming more (or less) distressed over time and were able to compare the changes to roommates’ rankings.
The biases found at the separate time points did not carry over to the inferences about distress change. When students’ reports indicated that their roommates were experiencing more distress, the target roommates tended to self-report more distress as well.
The researchers say that with proper training on how to detect distress in others, roommates might be even more accurate in their judgments and could be a helpful in supporting a safety net for college students who are distressed.
Source: New York University
In a new study, investigators at Drexel University examined how and why women decide to disclose pregnancy loss on Facebook. Their findings shed light on a shift in our social media behavior that is making it easier for people to come forward and share their painful, personal, and often stigmatized stories.
“While many use Facebook to largely talk about happy and light topics and believe that to be the expected norm on this platform, some people make complicated decisions to talk about things that are not all that happy,” said Nazanin Andalibi, a doctoral candidate in Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics.
Andalibi is the lead author of the study to be published in the Proceedings of the 2018 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
The investigation is the first piece of research to use the lens of pregnancy loss to look at how and why people use social media to share their sensitive and stigmatized stories.
“Our research looks at why and how people decide to use social media to share their traumatic experiences that often have a social stigma attached to them.”
Andalibi and co-author Andrea Forte, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Computing & Informatics, chose to focus on pregnancy loss disclosures because one in five pregnancies in the United States lead to a pregnancy loss, yet most people –approximately 55 percent — still think it’s a rare occurrence.
A discrepancy in understanding of this magnitude tends to fuel stigmatization and feelings of isolation; by contrast, raising awareness can not only help reduce the stigma, but also aid in the emotional process of recovering from such a loss.
“Pregnancy loss is a stigmatized reproductive health complication, associated with negative wellbeing effects such as depression and PTSD, changes people’s sense of identity, impacts their relationships, and it often elicits negative or unsupportive responses when disclosed,” Andalibi said.
“Understanding how and why women talk about pregnancy loss on social networking sites could help us and technologists to design services that facilitate safe disclosures and supportive interactions to form around them when people experience distress and stigma.
The potential for improved well-being through access to social support makes pregnancy loss a productive context for research on designing social computing systems for safe disclosures and support seeking.”
By interviewing 27 women, all social media users, who had recently experienced pregnancy loss, the researchers built a framework for understanding why people are now turning to social media to end their silence and share their stories. These findings can also be applied to other phenomena such as the 12 million who recently shared their experiences of sexual assault using the hashtag #MeToo.
One of the main reasons people are coming forward, they suggest, is that social media is now part of the healing process.
“People often need to share stigmatized life events and emotions associated with them. However, many do not, and sometimes they suffer as a result of this inhibition due to the psychological distress associated with keeping a secret,” they write.
Another motivation for turning to social media, according to the research, is the benefit of sharing with a large network of people. Many women found it to be a highly efficient way of sharing a painful story once instead of repeating it over and over again in individual conversations, which was perceived to be incredibly difficult.
“I didn’t want to talk to people about it because I didn’t want to deal with their feelings about it,” one participant told the researchers. “I didn’t want to feel like I had to manage their feelings…that’s easier on social media because they’re not in front of me. I definitely had friends who cried when I told them. I don’t want to deal with somebody else’s tears about it. You don’t have to do that on Facebook.”
This broad-spectrum sharing, which is a definitive characteristic of social media, also makes it easier for others to express support or share a similar story in hopes of building strength in numbers, educating others, and reducing the social stigma.
These posts often inspire others in a network to come forward with their own stories because they see people talking about it and feel as though the stigma has diminished. The researchers call this behavior “Network-Level Reciprocal Disclosures.”
They suggest that by seeing others post, people knew and felt pregnancy loss was not unique to them. And by observing posts that did not receive negative responses, participants felt that sharing about their loss may be more appropriate than they originally thought — and even if that was not the case, they would at least not be the only people taking that chance.
This behavior, which is becoming more prevalent on social networks today, is at the heart of the sexual assault awareness movement that organically coalesced on social media via the hashtag #MeToo.
“Our theory of Network-Level Reciprocal Disclosure suggests that it is likely that by seeing others say #MeToo, those who did end up saying #MeToo as well, were inspired and felt safer to do so themselves, and wanted to be a source of support for others,” Andalibi said.
Even with support from others and confidence gleaned from seeing the conversation grow in a positive direction, many people still want to ease into sharing their story or need a timely nudge.
According to the study, women who shared their pregnancy loss publicly on social media often did so after first revealing it on an anonymous forum, like Reddit, as a way of testing out the message and the responses to it while being shielded from the emotions of interacting with a familiar audience.
“Processing their experiences on more anonymous sites helped people decide exactly what and how to share, and reduced anxiety about sharing,” they wrote. Anonymous disclosures paved the way for disclosures on Facebook. This indicates the distinct and complementary roles of anonymous online spaces, such as Reddit, and identified spaces, such as Facebook.”
It’s important for social network sites to understand this behavior, according to the researchers, because it could help them build a more inclusive space if they embrace their role as forums where people can find support and support one another. The researchers suggest that social network sites could facilitate this process and help to reduce the stigma associated with difficult human experiences by implementing these changes:
- Have news feed algorithms surface sensitive disclosures when they happen, particularly to those who are demographically likely to share the experiences;
- Enable finding others inside one’s social networks who have had similar experiences;
- Help people see the prevalence of pregnancy loss in their network by predicting how many in one’s network may have experienced a pregnancy loss;
- Facebook could add an “I experienced pregnancy loss” life event to help influence norms and be more inclusive;
- During awareness months, algorithms could boost related posts, so it’s easier for people who have made disclosures to see others doing the same;
- Experiment with a system that allows disclosing to one’s Facebook network anonymously.
“Taken together, awareness campaigns, the efficiency of one-to-many disclosures, and opportunities for anonymous lower-risk disclosures elsewhere contribute to women’s decisions to disclose pregnancy loss experiences on identified social network systems, which, through the mechanism of network-level reciprocation, creates an increasingly disclosure-friendly context for those who come after,” the authors wrote.
Source: Drexel University
New research finds that a romantic relationship helps buffer lesbian and gay youth from the negative effects of bullying and victimization. Furthermore, being involved in a relationship helps to significantly reduce psychological distress among gays and lesbians. Conversely, relationship involvement among bisexual youth increased psychological distress.
The Northwestern Medicine study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati, is the first to discover that an active relationship provides better support than that conveyed from family or friends.
“Romantic relationships add luster to life,” said corresponding author Brian Mustanski, the director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“Your romantic partner can be the first person you reach out to when you have good news to celebrate or for a shoulder to cry on when you have bad news. Having a partner then can amplify the good things in life and provide critical support during tough times.”
While the benefits of being in a romantic relationship to mental health is well documented in adults, limited research has been conducted on the association between dating relationships and mental health in young people.
Even fewer researchers have examined the potential stress-buffering effects of romantic involvement for sexual minority groups.
“There are lot of questions about if and how we should help LGBT teens form romantic relationships, so that they can have the same experiences of dating and learning about relationships as their heterosexual peers,” said Sarah Whitton, first author and associate professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati.
“The findings suggest there might be great value in initiatives that could help LGBT youth meet other youth such as citywide ‘queer proms,’ and engage in healthy learning about dating and romance.”
The paper appears in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Romantic involvement was associated with higher psychological distress for bisexual individuals, however, the study also showed.
Researchers discovered that when bisexuals were in relationships, they were 19 percent more distressed than when they were not in relationships. When lesbian and gay individuals were in relationships, they were 17 percent less distressed than when they were not in relationships.
“Bisexuals may face unique stressors in relationships,” Mustanski said.
In previous research, bisexual women reported their romantic male partners expected threesomes with another female and perceived of the woman’s bisexuality as a threat to their own masculinity.
Bisexual men in relationships with women described difficulties discussing their bisexuality and experiencing stereotypes that they are really gay and not bisexual.
Participants came from Project Q2 — the longest running longitudinal study of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) youth ever conducted.
Project Q2 is a racially diverse community sample of 248 sexual minority youth from the Chicago area between the ages of 16-20, who provided eight waves of data over a five-year period beginning in 2007. Most participants identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Standards Manual, Edition V (2013) reports that between 2 and 6% of the general population have a hoarding disorder. Once considered a type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding is now regarded as a serious clinical condition co-morbid with diagnoses of depression, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, and sometimes psychosis given the delusional levels of denial that hoarders often present (Frost, Stekelee, Tolin, 2011).
Hoarders engage in excessive acquisition of items, whether those items have real world value or not, as well as excessive shopping. This behavior often results in living environments that are seriously compromised, if not uninhabitable: blocked entrances and exits, leading to fire hazards; hygiene and safety problems resulting from the acquisition of consumer products, items of supposed sentimental value, plus a plethora of strange items, including trash and feces.
Imagine the life of someone living with a hoarder. Imagine what it must be like to live in perpetual squalor, or to fear being trapped in the event of a fire or some other emergency, or more commonly, to lack space for one’s own personal belongings. Other consequences include: sleeping in beds that double as storage areas, or losing valuable items because they are buried or crushed beneath a hoarder’s accumulated belongings; discovering beloved animals neglected or deceased, or the discovery of unwelcome creatures, such as rodents. Imagine having one’s entire household space or the interior of vehicles rendered unusable, unsafe or unhygienic.
Partners and other family members are the invisible and sometimes buried victims of hoarding behaviors. Invisible because while traditional treatments for hoarding behaviors have focused clinical attention upon the perpetrators of hoarding, they have focused much less so upon supportive or instructive interventions for or on the behalf of impacted loved ones. Within existing treatment models, there is no established diagnostic criteria nor intervention strategy for the treatment of hoarding induced trauma (HIT), a condition based upon discovery of PTSD symptoms related to similar acting out disorders, such as sex addiction, leading to treatment models like sex addiction induced trauma (SAIT) (Minwalla, O., 2012)
This is a serious omission in the field of obsessive compulsive disorder treatment. Treating the problem of hoarding simply as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even as a disorder co-morbid with mood, anxiety or psychotic disorders, while avoiding the proper diagnosis and treatment of the accompanying abuse of others, constitutes a significant area of clinical neglect. The perpetration of hoarding behaviors entails much more than the pathologically excessive acquisition of items. The condition further entails the maintaining of an elaborate thought system that compartmentalizes a protected reality, a routinized impingement upon a partner or family member’s living space, plus a manipulation of such victims’ reality. Hoarding perpetrators hide belongings in obscure or secret spaces, deceiving others as to the extent of their hoarding behaviors. They make false promises about cleaning unhygienic surfaces, or tidying cluttered spaces, without follow-up on such promises.
Alternatively, perpetrators invoke false rationales, such as casting spilled garbage as ‘compost’ merely awaiting appropriate elimination, or normalizing lack of hygiene by comparing the accumulation of feces in common areas to implicitly virtuous, eco-friendly “dry toilets” such as those prominent in emerging world economies. Or, they declare disingenuously that items unused or placed in inaccessible areas will be “used at some point in the future” and must therefore be kept in their existing, congested spaces. However, when real attempts are made by others to tidy or clean household areas, perpetrators regress from glibly-stated organizational goals, are prone to bullying behaviors, which they subsequently deny and indeed project onto their plaintive loved ones, ever assuming the role of victim rather than accepting responsibility. These calculated rather than compulsive tactics result not only in frustration for others, but also a sense of betrayal and confusion, plus a feeling of being gaslighted in a world of relational danger.
Meanwhile, if the rationales employed by perpetrators seem bizarre, the underlying motives for hoarding behaviors may seem entirely inexplicable. This is another area of clinical neglect in the treatment of hoarding behaviors. Though Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms of hoarding behavior (Gillman et al, 2011), there is little evidence that such approaches unearth the compartmentalized realities protected by perpetrators. These realities include deep feelings of emptiness that are self-medicated by excessive accumulations; distorted and excessive self-identifications with personal belongings, or the behavior of clinging to objects as a symbolic substitute for unresolved abandonment depression. Existing treatment models do little to explain such dynamics to either perpetrators or their impacted loved ones. Instead, partners and other family members are told they have “enabled” perpetrators, become “co-hoarders” by providing or perpetuating the kind of living environments that make possible accumulating behavior. This is like telling a burglary victim that he or she has enabled a thief, become a “co-thief”, via the practice of homeownership and consumerism in a capitalist society. Otherwise, partners and family members are simply encouraged to be patient with hoarding perpetrators, or they are coached to not yell at or criticize them, as if protecting the hoarder from feelings of shame or decompensation were the paramount, if not exclusive purpose of treatment.
Such approaches fail to address the hoarder’s lack of awareness about the real-world impact of their behavior. They express little about the intrapsychic, familial and social underpinnings of hoarding behavior, such as anal personality structure, or gender-based subversive/oppositional reactions to patriarchal norms of property ownership. Perpetrators erect alongside their hoarding behaviors a complex conscious and unconscious system of relational reality that perpetuates a pattern of abuse upon loved ones that is tantamount to human rights violations. A perpetrator’s interior/exterior reality is translational, crosses physical and symbolic relational boundaries in a manner that Laplanche (2005) describes. Living in a psychic vacuum, needing a vacuum of another kind, they induce a like interior/exterior reality in others. Their system of behavior and psychic manipulation denies fair allocation of space to others, not to mention filling space that could be made available to visitors, resulting in social isolation plus the exclusion of outsiders, potential residents, immigrants. It places loved ones in danger while imposing upon overpopulated or housing-limited communities a cruelly ironic waste of personal and collective space.
The hoarding induced trauma (HIT) model is a directive, didactic, and intensive clinical method designed to galvanize awareness in a perpetrator of a complex and destructive pathology. Coordinated clinical intervention with individuals and families, coupled with psychiatric intervention to contain psychotic symptoms, is designed to outline thirteen different areas of distinct trauma suffered by victims of hoarding behaviors, and to confront the intersection of hoarding, personality disorder and distorted social constructs that perpetrators typically exhibit. The hoarding induced trauma (HIT) model aims to comprehensively address and treat the abusive impact of that pathology upon all who live with this terrible disorder.
American Psychiatric Association, (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition). Arlington, VA. American Psychiatric Publishing.
Frost, A., Stekelee, G., Tolin, A. (2011). Comorbidity in Hoarding Disorder. Depression and Anxiety. October 3: 28(10). 876-884.
Gillman, C.M., Norbury, M.M, Villavicencio, A., Morrison, S., Hannan, S.E., Tolin, D.F. (2011). Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Hoarding Disorder: an open trial. Behavior Research and Therapy, 49 (11), 802-807.
Laplanche, J. (2005). Freud and the Sexual: Essays 2000-2006. Transl. J. Fletcher, J. House, and N. Ray. New York: International Psychoanalytic Books, 2011.
Minwalla, O. (2012, July 23). Partners of Sex Addicts Need Treatment for Trauma. The National Psychologist.
New research finds that depression, anxiety, and fatigue cause women to have an increased risk of being injured at work. Investigators found that although men were more likely to be injured at work, mental health factors only affected a women’s chance of work injury, not men.
The study, by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health (SPH), Work & Environment appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“The findings of our study demonstrate that keeping workers safe requires more than your typical safety program. It requires an integrated approach that connects health, well-being, and safety,” said Dr. Natalie Schwatka, the study’s lead author. Schwatka is an assistant professor in the Colorado SPH’s Center for Health, Work & Environment and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.
The authors collaborated with Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, to examine the claims data of 314 businesses from a range of industries. Close to 17,000 employees ranging from executives to laborers were represented in the study.
The researchers found that men were more likely to sustain a work-related injury but behavioral health factors, like poor sleep and anxiety, did not directly affect their risk of injury. Women were more likely to report experiencing mental and behavioral health issues and these conditions increased their risk of getting hurt on the job.
Almost 60 percent of women with a work injury reported experiencing a behavioral health condition before they were injured, compared to 33 percent of men.
Yet Schwatka cautioned that further research is needed to understand why there are differences in women’s and men’s risk of work-related injuries. Overall, workers who had an injury in the past were more likely to be injured again, regardless of their gender.
“There a number of social and cultural factors that may explain why women reported having more behavioral health concerns than men did. Men generally admit to fewer health concerns,” said Schwatka.
“And women may face different stresses at work and at home. It’s something that is worth exploring in future research.”
Exercise, particularly running, while under stress may help protect memory, according to a new mouse study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU).
The findings, published in the journal of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, suggest that running mitigates the negative impact that chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.
“Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress,” said study lead author Dr. Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU.
Memory formation and recall occur best when the synapses or connections between neurons are strengthened over time. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long-term potentiation (LTP). Chronic or prolonged stress weakens the synapses, which reduces LTP and ultimately affects memory.
The new study finds, however, that when we exercise when we’re stressed, these LTP levels do not decrease, but instead remain normal.
For the study, Edwards conducted experiments with mice. One group of mice used running wheels over a four week period (averaging slightly over three miles per day) while another set of mice was left sedentary.
Half of the mice in each group was then exposed to stress-inducing situations, such as walking on an elevated platform or swimming in cold water. One hour after the stressful experience, researchers carried out electrophysiology experiments on the animals’ brains to measure their LTP levels.
The researchers discovered that stressed mice who had been exercising on the wheel had significantly greater LTP than the stressed mice who were not running. They also found that stressed mice who exercised performed just as well as non-stressed mice in a maze-running experiment designed to test their memory. In fact, the exercising mice made significantly fewer memory errors in the maze than the sedentary mice.
The findings show that exercise may be a practical method to protect learning and memory mechanisms from the negative cognitive effects of chronic stress on the brain.
“The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience no stress and to exercise,” Edwards said. “Of course, we can’t always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It’s empowering to know that we can combat the negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running.”
Source: Brigham Young University
A new study from U.K. researchers suggests those who were bullied by siblings in childhood are up to three times more likely to develop psychotic disorders in young adulthood.
Moreover, if a child is bullied at home by a sibling and then again at school, they were four times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder.
Psychotic disorders can include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and can cause abnormal thoughts and perceptions, often involving hallucinations or delusions. Sufferers often experience severe distress and changes in behavior and mood and have an elevated risk of suicide and health problems.
The study, found in the journal Psychological Medicine, is the first to review the relationship between sibling bullying and the development of psychotic disorders.
University of Warwick investigators followed almost 3,600 students participating in the Avon Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal study of parents and children.
The study format had both parents and children completing a detailed questionnaire on sibling bullying at twelve years of age, and then subsequently filling out a standardized clinical examination assessing psychotic symptoms when the child was eighteen years old.
Professor Dieter Wolke and colleagues discovered that among adolescents, 664 were victims of sibling bullying, 486 children were pure bullies to their siblings, and 771 children were bully-victims (victimized by siblings and bullied their siblings), at age twelve.
Wolke’s team discovered 55 of the total 3600 children in the study had developed a psychotic disorder by the age of eighteen.
The researchers found that the more frequently children are involved in sibling bullying — either as bully, victim, or both — the more likely they are to develop a psychotic disorder.
Those involved in sibling bulling (as bully or victim) several times a week or month are two to three times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder than other kids.
The children most at risk are victims of sibling bullying, and those who both become victims and bully their siblings (bully-victims).
Children who are victimized both at home and by school peers are even worse off; the study found them four times more likely to develop psychotic disorders than those not involved in bullying at all.
Wolke said, “Bullying by siblings has been until recently widely ignored as a trauma that may lead to serious mental health problems such as psychotic disorder.
“Children spend substantial time with their siblings in the confinement of their family home and if bullied and excluded, this can lead to social defeat and self-blame and serious mental health disorder, as shown here for the first time.”
“If the bullying occurs at home and at school the risk for psychotic disorder is even higher. These adolescents have no safe place,” said first author and doctoral student Slava Dantchev.
“Although we controlled for many pre-existing mental health and social factors, it cannot be excluded that the social relationship problems may be early signs of developing serious mental health problems rather than their cause.”
The researchers concluded that parents and health professionals should be made aware of the long-term mental health consequences that sibling bullying may have.
This knowledge will hopefully allow the development of interventions that reduce and even prevent this form of aggression within families.
Source: University of Warwick
A new initiative led by Intermountain Healthcare allows family members of hospitalized patients to participate in their care, resulting in better healing and reduced readmission rates.
Researchers explain that Intermountain’s Partners in Healing program provides opportunities for family members to help with basic care for their loved ones while they are in the hospital. The engagement with the hospital care plan helps family members prepare for taking over care responsibilities when the loved one goes home.
The program also allows the patient and family member more control over when they perform the care activities rather than following a schedule when the nurse or patient care tech are available. And it improves communication between the family and the staff, said Michelle Van De Graaff, R.N., of Intermountain Medical Center, who created and piloted the program as part of the study.
“The vast majority of families like to have something to do and they like to participate in patient care. They’re often the most motivated member of the care team,” said Van De Graaff.
“We’ve found that families not only want to promote healing, but patients benefit from someone who knows their preferences, and the result is, the rate of readmissions is reduced after patients are discharged from the hospital.”
Partners in Healing is the first program in the field that shows drafting families as clinical care partners during hospitalization may reduce readmissions. In the study, researchers compared adult heart surgery patients at Intermountain Medical Center whose families participated in the program with those whose relatives did not.
For the study, which appears in the medical journal CHEST, researchers looked at 30-day all-cause readmissions, 30-day all-cause mortality, length of stay, and the number of emergency room visits. Many family members who participated also completed a feedback survey.
The 30-day readmission rate was 65 percent lower for patients whose families participated in Partners in Healing, based on 200 matched pairs of patients. Researchers controlled the results for age, gender, and illness severity. There was no significant difference for the other outcomes.
Participant feedback showed that 92 percent of the patients said the program enhanced the transition from hospital care to home care and 94 percent said they’d highly recommend the program to other families.
Four themes were identified in a feedback survey:
- Family members praised the Partners in Healing program and expressed gratitude for being involved with it;
- Family members acquired relevant caregiving skills;
- Family members reported feeling empowered, integrated into the care team, and confident. They said those feelings reduced their anxiety, increased their confidence in caregiving tasks at home, and aided in the patient’s healing process;
- Family members thought the program should be available to all families and during all phases of hospitalization, including in intensive care units.
Intermountain Medical Center piloted the nine-year program in seven acute-care units, Van De Graaff said. The Mayo Clinic learned about the program and also tested it last year.
The program will now expand to the other 21 Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and will eventually be available on all Intermountain nursing units.
“Offering the Partners in Healing program to the patients and families in all of our Intermountain hospitals is a commitment to providing the best care possible to our patients by involving their loved ones in the healing process,” said Tammy Richards, assistant vice president of Patient and Clinical Engagement at Intermountain Healthcare.
The program works like this: During a patient’s initial encounter in the hospital, the bedside nurse introduces the program and families are asked if they want to participate.
Those who are interested are taught several basic skills that are appropriate for that patient, then given a badge that indicates to staff that they’re part of the care team and have access to drinks, snacks, ice, and blankets for their family member.
A checklist is taped to the patient’s door and program participants write what they do, such as helping with breathing exercises, assisting with activity, giving help to the bathroom, measuring urine output, recording how much a patient eats and drinks, etc. The nurse then transfers the data into the computer record.
“These are simple tasks, but they give families a sense of control and knowledge about what they can and can’t do,” says Van De Graaff. “By inviting them onto the health care team, we’re also preparing them to take over care when a patient goes home.”
Abusive supervision in the workplace has a damaging impact on not only the employees, but also the business, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas-Dallas found that abusive supervision affects more than 13 percent of U.S. workers. Costs incurred by corporations because of absenteeism, health care costs, and lost productivity has been estimated at $23.8 billion annually.
Abusive supervision refers to subordinates’ perceptions of supervisors engaging in sustained hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact. It can affect employees’ well-being, health, and work performance, researchers note.
“Abusive supervision in the workplace is quite a prevalent phenomenon, and employees should not have to suffer from this,” said Dr. Junfeng Wu, assistant professor of Organizations, Strategy, and International Management. “Our study shows that there are certain costs associated with abusive supervisors and even the leaders who engage in abusive supervision do not benefit from it. We want to convey this important message to organization leaders in order to have them stop these kinds of behaviors.”
The study, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, used a statistical technique called meta-analysis. It combines the results of findings from 79 previous studies to get a systematic understanding of the relationship between abusive supervision and subordinates’ retaliatory responses.
The researchers found that even though the immediate source of injustice is the supervisor, abused employees perceive injustice from both their supervisor and organization, so extend their retaliation to both.
“It will cause problems for the managers who engage in abusive supervision and, overall, it will threaten the well-being of the organization because the employees will engage in organizational deviance, such as arriving to work late or having low productivity,” Wu said.
The researchers also found that those who experience abusive supervision tend to emulate such abusive behaviors and even bully their co-workers.
“Employees see their leader as a role model in the workplace and they tend to follow suit,” Wu said. “This is a social learning effect.”
The researchers also explored whether the impact of abusive supervision on employees’ perceptions of justice and deviant behavior differ based on cultural values.
They explain that power distance is a national cultural value that captures the extent to which people tolerate power differences in interpersonal relationships.
In countries with lower power distance, such as the U.S. and much of Europe, people tend to feel that power should be equally distributed. Retaliation to both the supervisor and to the organization is stronger in lower power distance countries.
In countries with higher power distance, such as China and Japan, people tend to have more tolerance for the inequalities of power distributions.
“That does not mean that leaders can engage in abusive supervision,” Wu said. “Employees still feel it is unjust and they engage in deviance behavior as well. It’s just not as strong.”
Wu said the cross-cultural aspects of this study have implications for international companies.
For example, if a manager from a higher power distance country is assigned to work in a lower power distance country, he should be aware that employees will not tolerate abusive supervision behaviors due to their lower power distance orientation values.
The study recommends that organizations use leadership development programs, coach supervisors, and pay more attention to employee feedback. Wu said these may help reduce the occurrence of abusive supervision in the workplace.
Source: University of Texas Dallas