19 posts categorized "Health Psychology"


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Pharmacy, Health Policy Experts to be Featured on NBC10 @ Issue on Sunday

At issueThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the potent opioid painkiller Zohydro ER has been met with fierce criticism, both locally and across the nation. Tune into Philadelphia's NBC10  @ Issue on Sunday, March 16, at 11:30 a.m., as University of the Sciences' pharmacy and health policy experts discuss this drug in further detail.

Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy; and Dan Hussar, PhD, Remington Professor of Pharmacy, joined reporter Tracy Davidson for a discussion regarding the pros/cons of this drug, as well as its potential dangers and health implications.

NBC10 @ Issue is a weekly public affairs discussion program that takes an in-depth look at local, state and national issues and politics. Watch NBC10 @ Issue every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on NBC10, or at 6:30 p.m., on NBC10.com


Getting 'Your Bell Rung' is No Music to the Ears, Says USciences Doc

AcquavellaAnthonyWhile concussions are most commonly associated with sports-related injuries, associate professor Anthony Acquavella, MD, at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says prevention and awareness begins by recognizing that these brain injuries can also result from slips and falls, playground injuries, and car accidents.

“Concussions are a force to be reckoned with because they are traumatic brain injuries that need to be identified and treated as soon as they occur to help prevent further complications, or even death,” said Dr. Acquavella, who also serves as a physician for the University’s student health service.

While March is designated as National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Dr. Acquavella said concussions and head injuries affect hundreds of individuals each day. Approximately 1.7 million people suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year, and concussions represent about 75 percent of those injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Earlier this year, a USciences student suffered a concussion from a fall significant enough to take a medical leave from school, as concussion treatment requires thorough brain rest,” said Dr. Acquavella.

While concussions are typically caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, they can also occur from impact to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth, such as an injury suffered during a car accident. Observed signs of head injuries, includes individuals appearing dazed or stunned, forgetful, clumsy, and moody. Additionally, symptoms reported by individuals, includes headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to noise and light.

As of 2011, Pennsylvania has a law on the books which mandates that student athletes exhibiting concussion symptoms cannot return to play until cleared by appropriate healthcare professionals. But Dr. Acquavella said concussion awareness also needs to be a household conversation.

“I worked as a sideline physician for young athletes early in my career, and it was alarming how parents minimized the severity of head injuries in their children,” he said. “Concussion awareness begins by getting students, parents, teachers, and coaches on the same page with the causes, symptoms, and outcomes of head injuries.”


There is ‘No Face to Eating Disorders,’ Says USciences Psychology Prof

Despite the common misconception that eating disorders affect primarily young women, prevention and awareness toward these diseases starts by recognizing that they do not discriminate by gender or age, said C. Alix Timko, PhD, director of the graduate psychology and Eating Disorder Research programs at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

As part of the upcoming National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Feb. 23 to March 1, Dr. Timko emphasized that an estimated 25 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, a Timkond nearly 25 percent of those suffering are male.

“Eating disorders are not personal choices, diet fads or phases; they are severe and can be fatal,” said Dr. Timko, an international researcher who has written and spoken extensively on this topic. “In fact, anorexia nervosa has one of the highest overall mortality rates and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.”

The American Psychiatric Association recognizes four primary eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specified.  While these disorders seem vastly different due to the difference in symptoms, individuals and their families face similar psychological, physical, and emotional challenges. Researchers have not established a single cause of an eating disorder, but they have identified numerous biological, social, psychological, and interpersonal factors that contribute to its development, said Dr. Timko.

There is no guaranteed way to identify if a friend of family member is at risk for eating disorders; however, there are a variety of easy-to-overlook signs that might help spot an eating disorder — or disorder in the making — sooner, including:

  • Dramatic weight loss and refusal to eat
  • Retreating to the bathroom for long periods of time after meals
  • Excessive exercise
  • Poor body image and negative comments about oneself

Under the direction of Dr. Timko, USciences’ Eating Disorder Research Program studies the development, treatment, and prevention of eating disorders. This program also aims to train new clinicians in the most evidence-based treatments for adolescents and adults with eating disorders. The University also offers students suffering from eating disorders counseling from therapists with a focus on health psychology; however, these services are not affiliated with Dr. Timko’s research program.

A variety of studies investigating eating disorders, body image, and eating behavior are currently underway by students and faculty at USciences, including Acceptance-Based Separated Family Treatment for Adolescents with Eating Disorders, Understanding Differences in Body Image in Women of Different Ethnic Groups, Psychosocial and Cultural Factors Influencing Craving, and Understanding Eating Behavior in College Students.


The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."


What Happens to Philly's Homeless Community During Frigid Weather?

MetrauxStephen Metraux, PhD, associate professor of health policy and public health, has done extensive research on homelessness and housing,as well as other aspects of urban health. He is also working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as part of their commitment to ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

With the recent streak of bone-chilling weather, Dr. Metraux weighed in on how this weather impacts Philadelphia's homeless community. Here's what he had to say:

If you were fortunate enough to be somewhere warm during this recent cold snap, you may have been wondering what happens to those who do not have access to warm shelter.  In particular, how do people who are homeless and subsisting on the streets go about surviving in this cold?

Data on how many homeless are stuck out in the cold are difficult to come by. The homeless population is notoriously challenging to count, as they usually strive to stay inconspicuous amidst the public spaces to which they are relegated. The best available number comes from the City of Philadelphia’s annual “Point in Time” count, when teams of volunteers canvass the shelters and the streets and count the homeless people and families that they encounter.  Of the 5,625 homeless persons counted on a January night in 2012, 526 (9%) were unsheltered.

So how do these 526 persons survive the elements on nights like those we have recently had? The first line of defense is provided by the City of Philadelphia, who implement a “Code Blue” on any night when “real feel” temperatures fall under or around 20 degrees. On Code Blue nights, outreach workers and police can bring any homeless person in to stay in a shelter or other public facility temporarily designated for overnight accommodations. No one gets turned away and, if necessary, a Court Ordered Transportation to Shelter (COTS) can be quickly obtained to bring resistant persons indoors on occasions when leaving a person outdoors may subject him or her to danger from the elements.

Code Blue’s success is best indicated by the rarity of hypothermia deaths among homeless persons in the past few years.  But Code Blue is at best a stopgap solution.  The best solution for protecting the homeless from the elements is through renewed efforts to reduce homelessness. The number of street homeless in Philadelphia have been declining over the previous few years, due largely to innovative programs to engage the most recalcitrant homeless persons and provide them with housing and services.  The more this continues, the less we need to worry about homeless persons on nights like these.


Why Don’t You Take Your Medication? Part II

In our previous blog, we delved into how fear and confusion can negatively impact medication adherence. Now we will examine how health beliefs and finances can influence patients and a service we as pharmacists can provide to improve outcomes.

Health Beliefs. A difficult barrier pharmacists must overcome to improve adherence is the health beliefs our patients have towards medications, their disease states, and health care in general. A study examined how health beliefs impacted medication adherence in patients being treated for HIV/AIDs and discovered that those patients who were asymptomatic were more likely to be non-adherent, while those who experienced negative effects from their disease were more likely to be adherent to avoid such negative effects. Pharmacists must stress that even if a patients are feeling well and does not physically feel sick, they must continue to take their medications. This challenge arises with disease states like hypertension or mental illness where the person may feel fine after taking their medication for a while and then discontinue there medications thinking that they are now cured.

Financial Constraints. An estimated 14 million Americans with chronic medical conditions cannot afford their medications. Doctors may not consider the price of a drug when prescribing and as pharmacists, we are at the point of care when a patient must make the difficult decision to pay for this month’s supply of medication or food for their family. Pharmacists must take due diligence to discover whether their patients are adherent as result of financial hardship. It can be a difficult subject to approach, but there are some questions that can be asked to indirectly ascertain this information; examples of such questions include: “Are there circumstances that make it difficult to fill your prescriptions?" or "Are you testing blood glucose less often because you're trying to conserve supplies?" If it is discovered that a patient cannot afford their prescriptions, we as pharmacists could contact the prescribing physician and request a generic alternative or contact the pharmaceutical company for possible discount/assistance programs. Medication adherence is a significant barrier to achieving positive therapeutic outcomes in our patients, but there is a tool that has been developed over the last several years that will make the task of overcoming these barriers much more attainable.

Medication therapy management (MTM) was developed in response to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. MTM provides pharmacists the unique opportunity to be the ‘medication expert’ and improve patient adherence, and thus outcomes. With pharmacists now becoming more integral in the health care team, and being able to interact with patents in a more prominent role, we are now in a great position to correct the factors that interfere with a patient being adherent. By using tools like the interview a pharmacist can glean valuable information from their patient and make adjustments when necessary before the patient is potentially harmed. Communication and information gathering are valuable in improving overall outcomes and MTM gives pharmacists the necessary means to not only communicate but do something about it.

It is our role as pharmacists to communicate, educate, and in turn ensure that our patients take their medications as prescribed. We’ve discussed why a patient might not take their medications and how to counter such obstacles to adherence as well as the ever evolving role of MTM in healthcare.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD ‘15


Mayes Students 'Already Know More About ACA than Most Docs'

MetrauxLed by Stephen Metraux PhD, interim director of the Health Policy Program, masters and doctoral students in the Department of Health Policy and Public Health are examining the Patient Protection and ACA as it evolves in real time. Here's what he has to say about the course:

Last summer, the faculty the Department of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences decided to implement a seminar course devoted to the Affordable Care Act for the Fall 2013 semester.  We realized with the exchanges set to come online in October, this would be a unique opportunity to observe and assess policy as it unfolded, and that it would likely entail a wild, unpredictable ride.  As the person who first pitched this idea, I got to facilitate the class.

The course consists of three touch points – studying the nuts and bolts of the ACA based on reading about the act and its implementation; a series of speakers who would come into the class and give in-depth presentations  related to specific aspects of the ACA; and taking time each class to discuss the week’s events related to the ACA.  Taken together, the class has been exciting, interesting and informative. 

The speakers so far have included community perspectives from hospitals, physicians and public health providers, as well as University faculty talking about the economics, political science and occupational therapy perspectives of the ACA.  The nine students enrolled in the class have each taken one of the nine titles (i.e., sections) of the original ACA and have delved into the details.  And finally, the government shutdown, the debacle of healthcare.gov, and the individual policy cancellations have been the backdrop behind a greater awareness and a greater understanding of the headlines.

Based on this, students from the class will, in the upcoming days, provide brief entries for this blog related to specific ACA-related topics upon which they are focusing.  The first entries in this series came from Tom Godfrey, a physician and PhD Health Policy student:

My contribution to this is a top-ten list of general themes about the ACA that have become clear through this course. 

10. To focus on the individual mandate is to miss 90 percent of the ACA.
  9. If you are sick and poor before the ACA you will likely remain sick and poor after the ACA.
  8. The ACA is sitting on the shoulders of over a century of health care reform efforts.
  7. It is possible to have too little income to benefit from the ACA.
  6. Public health never gets the money it needs.
  5. The ACA just ain’t socialized medicine in any form.
  4. To work, the ACA must hit the health care trifecta: simultaneously expanded coverage, improved quality, and reduced costs.
  3. Opponents hate the ACA; proponents see it as a set of necessary compromises.
  2. No one knows whether and how the ACA will work.

[insert drum roll…]

  1. Students in the class already know more about the ACA than most physicians.

Stay tuned.


Dean of Mayes College Weighs In on Affordable Care Act

APeterson_250x350Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, John Wyeth Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy, recently published an article titled, "Healthcare Exchanges Open for Business" in the Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor.

As of Oct 1, 2013, many U.S. citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. 

Click here to read the entire article...

As of today, Oct 1st, 2013, many US citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/healthcare-exchanges-open-for-business/#sthash.6jehUNdO.dpuf


Mayes College Student Discusses 'Time and Technology'

Andrew Lyle PhB'15, published an article in Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor on Sept. 20, 2013, titled, "Time and Technology."

Over time, new technology reaches different generations and target markets. As older doctors retire, newly minted medical professionals are taking over— and this new generation of healthcare professionals grew up with computers, video games, and cell phones.

Click here to this entire article.


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