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American Indian Worldviews, Risk Perceptions and Disaster Planning: an Exploratory Study

Description: It is commonly assumed that when confronted with an imminent hazard that people will react rationally, and prepare for, or at least attempt to avoid, danger from pending disasters. However, this conventional wisdom is not as evident as it appears. People prepare for, react to, or take social action to avoid hazards when they perceive the risk of danger to be threatening enough to warrant action, providing one has the will, insight and resources to do so. However, not all people perceive risks similarly. Risk is perceived differently by different people which affects risk perception and responses to hazards. This dissertation explores the relationships between American Indian worldviews, risk perceptions and disaster planning. To carry out this research 28 American Indians were interviewed. The sample consists of 14 American Indians residing in a rural are on the northern plains and 14 urban American Indians. The results only partially support that worldview is linked to risk perception and subsequent disaster planning. Other factors found to relate to risk perception and disaster planning for this non-representative sample of American Indians include various forms of social vulnerability.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Bales, Rodney A.

Assessing Social Determinants of Severe Mental Illness in High-Risk Groups

Description: The primary objective of this research was to explore the impact of possible social factors on non-institutionalized adults 18 years of age or older residing in the United States who exhibited severe mental illness (SMI). A holistic sociological model was developed to explain SMI by incorporating elements of social learning theory, social disorganization theory, and gender socialization theory with social demographic factors. Based on the holistic sociological model, the following factors were investigated: demographic aspects of age, education, income and gender; gender socialization; influence of neighborhood area; social network influence based on communication and interaction among peers and family members; and socially deviant behaviors such as frequently smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using drugs specifically marijuana. The impact of these factors on SMI was examined. A sample of 206 respondents drawn from National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003 was assessed. These respondents had answered all the questions related to SMI; social deviant behaviors; neighborhood environment; and communications among peers, family members and friends; and the other studied factors. Ordinary linear regression with interaction terms was employed as a statistical tool to assess the impact of social determinants on SMI. Being female, living a disorganized neighborhood, and frequent and high levels of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol had a significant influence on SMI. This reevaluation and reexamination of the role of gender socialization path, socially deviant behaviors like smoking and drinking, and community construction on SMI provided additional insights. This research is one of the first to develop a more holistic sociological model on SMI and explored the previously untested interactive relationships. The limitations of this study suggest the need to test a potential recursive research model and explore additional bi-directional associations.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Sun, Qi

Determinants of Mental Health Problems Among College Students

Description: Many college students have reported struggling with mental health problems while dealing with challenging demands of college. The initial theoretical framework for this research was Pearlin's stress process model (SPM). Building on the SPM, the three additional mediating variables of perceived control, meaninglessness, and financial worries were added to create a composite model for the research. Mental health outcomes in the model were measured by a comprehensive range of factors, which included: psychological distress, suicide, substance abuse, and anger. Data were collected from a non-probability convenience sample of 463 undergraduate students attending a large state supported university in the southwestern region of the United States. Among the social status variables measured, being married, female, and white were significant predictors of poor mental health in the sampled college students. Poor self-image, feeling of meaninglessness, and worrying about current and future finances were significant mediating variables. Poor mental health could make individuals overwhelmed and discouraged. This is a formula for failure in college. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of the correlates of mental health problems among college students. A greater understanding means that families and college administrations will have better ideas about how to intervene to reduce the stress of students and to focus the available and often limited resources to help young adults in their college experience.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Mirbaha-Hashemi, Fariba

Dimensions of Acculturation and Sexual Health among U.S. Hispanic Youth

Description: Hispanic youth living in the U.S. share a disproportionate burden of risk for HIV, other STIs, and teen pregnancies. They also tend to report lower rates of condom use and higher rates of inconsistent condom use than other racial/ethnic groups. Furthermore, immigrant Hispanic adolescents experience a unique burden of sexual risk compared to their non-immigrant counterparts. These negative sexual health outcomes can severely derail the overall health, social mobility, and life opportunities of these adolescents. Social researchers have tried to explain these sexual risk disparities using the concept of immigrant acculturation, which is broadly defined as the process of adopting the cultural values and beliefs of a host society. Immigrant acculturation has been shown to play a key role in shaping youth attitudes and behaviors, including sexual risk behaviors (see Lee & Hahm, 2010). Yet, studies have largely overlooked the contextual components of acculturation that have been proposed in theoretical literature, specifically characteristics of the immigrant's receiving community. Furthermore, studies have not adequately explored the influence of acculturation on two crucial measures of sexual risk: teen pregnancy norms and condom use. Therefore, the current dissertation consists of two unique studies that examine the influence of acculturation, at both the individual and neighborhood level, on Hispanic adolescent teen pregnancy norms and condom use over time. The aim is to fill these important gaps in the literature and expand on earlier explanations of the relationship between cultural, place, and long-term sexual health. Both studies use nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Overall, findings suggest an immigrant advantage for both teen pregnancy norms and condom use, although this advantage functions differently for males and females. Furthermore, the studies demonstrate the importance of including contextual measures of acculturation into studies related to Hispanic adolescent sexual health.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Driver, Nichola D

The Function of Social Structure in Controlling Violent Crime in Turkey

Description: This dissertation examines the relationship between social structural factors and violent crime rates in Turkey. The relationship between social structural characteristics and violent crime is worth exploring in areas that have attracted little academic attention, such as violent crime in Turkey. In order to understand and prevent the occurrence of crime, researchers have long investigated possible factors related to crime. Examining how crime varies across different regions can help us to understand underlying reasons for violent crime, which is considered one of the enduring problems in society. The findings of this research, to some extent, support the assumptions of social disorganization theory regarding the distribution of violent crime. Both the findings of multivariate and bivariate analysis indicated that poverty, unemployment, and family disruptions may have a positive effect on the distribution of violent crime in the cities of Turkey. The analysis of the effects of the social structure variables through the mediating variables, such as religious institutions, libraries and voluntary associations on the number of violent crimes and violent criminals, to some extent, support the tenets of social disorganization theory. However, all mediating variables cannot mediate all the indirect effects of social structural covariates. In brief, none of their indirect impacts on the social structural variables on the outcome variable was significant via mediating variables.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Guclu, Idris

Health-related Quality of Life and Social Engagement in Assisted Living Facilities

Description: This research project aims to clarify the factors that impact successful aging in Assisted Living facilities (ALFs) in Denton County, Texas. We hypothesize that social disengagement decreases physical and mental components of quality of life. This exploratory research project employed standardized questionnaires to assess residents in the following domains; HRQOL, social engagement status, level of cognition, depression, and the level of functioning. This study collected data from 75 participants living in five ALFs. The average of Physical Component Scale (PCS) and Mental Component Scale (MCS) was 35.33, and 53.62 respectively. None of the participants had five or more social contacts out of facilities, and two-third of them had two or less social contacts. On average, those participants who were more socially engaged had higher score of MCS compared with disengaged counterparts. The level of physical function significantly affects social engagement, when people with more disabilities are more likely to be socially disengaged. Social engagement and depression significantly impact MCS, when depression is a mediating factor between social engagement and mental component of quality of life. Considering the expansion in aging population in the United States within the next three decades, the demand for high quality long-term care will skyrocket consequently. This study reveals that external social engagement can sustain HRQOL of residents in assisted living facilities.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Amini, Reza

Using Topic Models to Study Journalist-Audience Convergence and Divergence: The Case of Human Trafficking Coverage on British Online Newspapers

Description: Despite the accessibility of online news and availability of sophisticated methods for analyzing news content, no previous study has focused on the simultaneous examination of news coverage on human trafficking and audiences' interpretations of this coverage. In my research, I have examined both journalists' and commenters' topic choices in coverage and discussion of human trafficking from the online platforms of three British newspapers covering the period 2009–2015. I used latent semantic analysis (LSA) to identify emergent topics in my corpus of newspaper articles and readers' comments, and I then quantitatively investigated topic preferences to identify convergence and divergence on the topics discussed by journalists and their readers. I addressed my research questions in two distinctive studies. The first case study implemented topic modelling techniques and further quantitative analyses on article and comment paragraphs from The Guardian. The second extensive study included article and comment paragraphs from the online platforms of three British newspapers: The Guardian, The Times and the Daily Mail. The findings indicate that the theories of "agenda setting" and of "active audience" are not mutually exclusive, and the scope of explanation of each depends partly on the specific topic or subtopic that is analyzed. Taking into account further theoretical concepts related to agenda setting, four more additional research questions were addressed. Topic convergence and divergence was further identified when taking into account the newspapers' political orientation and the articles' and comments' year of publication.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Papadouka, Maria Eirini