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A Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study of Adolescents and Religion: Views of Risk and Resiliency

Description: The research literature within the past decade has documented the importance of religiosity and spirituality in helping many adults around the world cope with major life stressors and events. Still, the role of religiosity and spirituality in adolescence is not well-known as research during this developmental period has been limited by sample size, homogeneity of samples, ethnic restrictions, and use of scales with few items. The goal of the current study is to identify and understand adolescent levels of religiousness and spirituality, as well as their roles on later social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes. The current study relied upon data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and utilized confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling in order to generate models of the relationships between the various latent variables. The religiosity and spirituality factors in the current study adequately measure religious perceptions and practices of adolescents over time. These constructs also play a role in later emotional well-being and self-esteem. Analyses also found adequate predictive abilities in the other model factors of delinquency, psychological well-being, self-esteem, and the social support. It is concluded from this study that religiosity and spirituality are not interchangeable constructs, and that more robust measures of both factors yield richer results. It is recommended that more comprehensive scales of religiosity and spirituality be developed and investigated in the future.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Miesse, Colette Ann

Deficits in Miranda Comprehension and Reasoning: The Effects of Substance Use and Attention Deficits.

Description: Each year, an estimated 318,000 defendants who do not comprehend the Miranda warnings waive their rights and provide incriminating evidence without the protection of counsel (Rogers, 2008), which make Miranda-related competencies one of the most pervasive pretrial issues. A wide range of issues could potentially affect an individual's capacity to provide a knowing and intelligent waiver. Previous Miranda research has focused narrowly on the effects of cognitive and developmental factors. The current study added to the Miranda literature by examining the impact of two highly prevalent conditions found in correctional populations, attention deficits and substance abuse. Adult defendants in custody (N = 118) were evaluated within 36 hours of arrest in order to assess both chronic psychological disorders and situational variables. Results indicate that attention deficits have a significant impact on defendants' ability to provide a knowing Miranda waiver, whereas substance use profoundly affected their reasoning about Miranda waiver decisions. This study represents the first systematic investigation of the effect of transient mental states on Miranda-related abilities with criminal defendants. Important implications for forensic practice are addressed.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Hazelwood, Lisa L.

Dementia, Diabetes, and Depression: Relationship to Cognitive Functioning

Description: The number of adults in the United States who are age 65 or older is rapidly increasing. With longer lifespan comes an increase in chronic diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and depression. This study used archival data from a larger study conducted at the Memory Clinic at John Peter Smith County Hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas to examine several hypotheses and research questions related to the influence of type of dementia, presence of Type II diabetes, and presence of depression on neuropsychological test performance. First, this study attempted to identify specific patterns of performance on neuropsychological measures for those with Alzheimer's dementia (AD), vascular dementia (VaD), or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The results indicated that those with MCI perform better than those with AD or VaD on all neuropsychological measures, and that those with VaD perform better than those with AD on a measure of verbal memory. Another purpose of the study was to determine how the presence of Type II diabetes affects this pattern of functioning; the overall finding in this study was that the presence or absence of diabetes did not affect performance on measures of cognitive functioning. Additionally, the study attempted to add to literature examining the influence of depression on older adults with diabetes and/or dementia; no significant differences emerged.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Jackson, Lauren Innes

Mediational Roles of Personality Factors and Vengeful Rumination in the Development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Description: Considerable research has demonstrated a link between thoughts of revenge, or vengeful rumination, and the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, particularly in situations involving interpersonal trauma. Personality factors have been related to both vengefulness and PTSD. No study to date has simultaneously examined the unique contributions of vengefulness and personality factors in the development of PTSD symptoms. Therefore, the present study addressed these questions in an inpatient sample by comparing contributions of the Big Five personality factors and vengeful rumination to the development of PTSD symptoms through correlation, hierarchical regression, and omnibus regression analyses. Results showed that Neuroticism predicted PTSD symptoms better than other personality factors, that Neuroticism and Agreeableness predicted vengeful rumination in opposite directions, and that personality factors and vengeful rumination each added unique variance in the prediction of PTSD symptoms. Future directions and implications are discussed.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Crostley, Jeremy T.

Metabolic Syndrome and Psychosocial Factors

Description: Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of risk factors, including abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting glucose, that commonly cluster together and can result in cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome and the components that comprise the syndrome vary by age and by racial/ethnic group. In addition, previous research has indicated that the risk factors contributing to metabolic syndrome may be exacerbated by exposure to perceived stress. This study utilized data from the 2002, 2004, and 2006 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data sets. It was hypothesized that depression and anxiety (conceptualized as stress in this study) increase the risk of presenting with metabolic syndrome while social support decreases the risk of metabolic syndrome. While results of cross-sectional analysis do not indicate a significant relationship between depression and metabolic syndrome (t = -.84, ns), longitudinal analysis does indicate a significant relationship between depression and metabolic syndrome over time (t = -5.20, p <.001). However, anxiety is not significantly related to metabolic syndrome when the relationship is examined through cross-sectional analysis (t = -1.51, ns) and longitudinal analysis (&#967;² = 13.83, ns). Similarly, social support is not significantly related to metabolic syndrome when examined in cross-sectional (&#967;² = .63, ns) and longitudinal (t = 1.53, ns) analysis. Although level of stress is not significantly related to metabolic syndrome as a whole, there is a significant relationship between stress and both triglyceride level (t = -2.94, p = .003) and blood glucose level (t = -3.26, p = .001).
Date: August 2009
Creator: Tweedy, Maureen P.

Negative affect and positive symptoms of psychosis.

Description: The current study utilized structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the factor-to-factor relations and temporal associations between disturbances in negative affect (NA) and positive symptoms of psychosis (PP). Data were drawn from a large, public-domain data set (MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study). A dimensional approach was used to conceptualize and identify latent variables of NA (depression, anxiety, and guilt) and PP (hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder) among individuals with a diagnosis of primary psychotic disorder. Results showed that anxiety, guilt, and depressed mood modeled an NA latent variable, and that hallucinations and unusual thought content modeled a PP latent variable. As predicted, results revealed strong, significant cross-sectional (synchronous) associations between NA and PP at each measured time-frame, suggesting that NA and PP occurred concurrently within the sample. Contrary to predictions, no significant cross-lagged effect between NA and PP was identified (10 weeks and 20 weeks respectively).
Date: December 2009
Creator: Crutchfield, Audra

Perceived Racial Discrimination and Psychiatric Outcomes among Asian Americans

Description: The present study related generational status, family dynamics, and perceptions of racial discrimination (PRD) to acute psychiatric outcomes among a nationally representative Asian American sample (N = 2095), using data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS). High self-reports of PRD were correlated with endorsement of clinical depression and suicidality as predicted. Regression analyses suggested that high PRD, low family cohesion, and high family conflict served as significant predictors of poor mental health independently, but moderator hypotheses predicting the interaction of these factors were not supported. Clinical and research implications are provided.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Varghese, Anita

Structural Equation Model of Variables Associated with Family Functioning among a Nationally Representative Sample of Families with a Child with Autism

Description: Previous research indicates that stressors experienced by a family, the perceived level of burden assigned by the family to the stressor, and the utilization of resources predict family functioning. The current study utilized a nationally representative sample of families of children with autistic disorder to determine if previously proposed models of family functioning accurately conceptualized family functioning within a representative sample. Structural equation modeling was utilized to test the double ABCX and the linear ACBX models of family functioning. With slight modifications, the double ABCX model was supported, thus indicating that pileup of stressors, perception of burden, and utilization of resources each have unique predictive ability for family functioning, with perception of burden demonstrating the highest amount of predictive ability. Results, implications, and limitations of the study are discussed.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Bezner, Stephanie K.