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Getting youth to drink water, not sugar


young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    children    focus group    government    health    Karen Schantz    New York    nutrition    research    youth   

Reconciled with a family member? We want to hear from you!


silhouette of four people - two teenagers and two adults who are holding hands - on a shore at sunset

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

What problem is experienced, directly or indirectly, by almost everyone and can cause emotional distress so profound that it lasts for a lifetime?

The answer is estrangement from a family member. More than one-fifth of adults report currently experiencing estrangement from a family member and most families live through an estrangement at some point.

Despite how often family members are cut off from one another, very little research has been conducted on estrangement. There is also scarce professional guidance for families trying to heal a rift among its members.

The Cornell Family Reconciliation Project aims to fill this knowledge gap. The project is seeking people from across the country to contribute their stories of how they reconciled with family members after a rift. The researchers will study these reports about how an estrangement was resolved and offer solutions based on these real-life experiences.

portrait of Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

“There is a lot of information available on how difficult estrangements are and what causes them,” said Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell and the director of the project. “However, what is lacking is the good news – how family members overcome a rift and reconcile. By gathering many reconciliation stories, we hope to contribute knowledge that is useful in resolving such family problems.”

Reconciled family members are invited to share their stories on the Cornell Family Reconciliation Project web site. Also, those interested can participate in the study by volunteering for an anonymous personal interview (sign-up information is on the web site). Based on the information received, Pillemer and his research team will prepare materials designed to offer advice to estranged family members and to the professionals who work with them.

“We invite people to help us understand this complex problem by sharing their stories,” Pillemer said. “The advice from people who have been through estrangement and reconciliation can help thousands of other families.”

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: family    Family Reconciliation Project    Karl Pillemer    research   

Police-related fatalities may occur twice as often as reported


By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

According to a new study led by a Cornell researcher, an average of nearly three men in the United States are killed by police use of deadly force every day. This accounts for 8 percent of all homicides with adult male victims – twice as many as identified in official statistics.

These starkly contrasting numbers are part of the study, “Risk of Police-Involved Death by Race/Ethnicity and Place, United States, 2012-2018,” led by Frank Edwards, postdoctoral associate with Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, published July 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Official statistics show that deaths attributable to legal intervention by police account for close to 4 percent of all homicides with adult male victims,” Edwards said. “We estimated that over this period, police were responsible for about 8 percent of all U.S. homicides with adult male victims – or 2.8 per day on average.”

Past work on police-involved mortality has been limited by the absence of systematic data, Edwards said. Such data, primarily collected through the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths program or the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report, are widely acknowledged as unreliable due to limited scope and voluntary data reporting.

“Police departments are not required by law to report deaths that occur due to officer action and may have strong incentives to be sensitive with data due to public affairs and community relations,” he said. “Effectively, we don’t know what’s happening if all we look at is the official data.”

In response to such shortcomings, journalists, activists and researchers have begun collecting data that count police-involved deaths through public records and media coverage, a method the Bureau of Justice Statistics says is actually more reliable than relying on police departments to report, Edwards said.

Through this method, the research found that the risk of being killed by police is 3.2 to 3.5 times higher for black men than for white men, and between 1.4 and 1.7 times higher for Latino men.

Edwards and his co-authors identified 6,295 adult male victims of police homicide over a six-year period between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 12, 2018 – averaging about 1,028 deaths per year, or 2.8 deaths per day.

Of those 6,295 victims, 2,993 were white, 1,779 were black, 1,145 were Latino, 114 were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 94 were American Indian/Alaska Native. During this period, black men were killed by police at a rate of at least 2.1 per 100,000 population, Latino men at a rate of at least 1.0 per 100,000, and white men at least 0.6 per 100,000.

The research also showed that this risk varies dramatically by location. The data showed that although risk is high in large urban areas typically associated with police homicide, the majority of police homicides occur in less-populated regions.

“One thing that really stands out within our research is that while the large central metros see a large chunk of killings by police, it is only a third of the total,” Edwards said. “That means two-thirds of all the shootings we’re finding are in suburban, smaller metropolitan and rural areas, which have received scant attention from both researchers and the media.”

In the Mountain States, police were responsible for about 17 percent of all homicides, while in the Middle Atlantic states, police accounted for about 5 percent of all homicides. Police accounted for more than 10 percent of all homicides in predominantly rural areas and about 7 percent of all homicides in large central metropolitan areas.

Edwards says that though this research provides more accurate data on the use of deadly force by police, it does not paint the whole picture.

“The new data that we’re using is capturing a lot more cases than what the official data is showing us, but there is still an undercount,” he said. “Everything that we’ve put forward within our research, we still think of that as being conservative.”

According to Edwards, this data indicates that deaths of men by police use of force is more common and reaffirms that structural racism, racialized criminal-legal systems, anti-immigrant mobilizations and racial politics all likely play a role in explaining where police killings are most frequent and who is most likely to be a victim.

“From a public health perspective, developing targeted interventions for sites with particularly high levels of or inequalities in police-involved mortality may serve as a productive framework for reducing them,” Edwards said.

New study finds police-related fatalities may occur twice as often as reported - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Frank Edwards    inequality    law enforcement    media mention    research   

Promoting good behavior online


Portraits of Janis Whitlock, Natalie Bazarova, and Drew Margolin

Janis Whitlock, Natalie Bazarova, and Drew Margolin

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR research scientist Janis Whitlock is joining a new collaborative project at Cornell’s Institute for Social Sciences that will look at how technology influences pro-social and anti-social behaviors, and how to promote good behavior online.

The project is named "Pro-Social Behaviors in the Digital Age" and co-led by Natalie Bazarova and Drew Margolin, faculty members in Cornell’s Department of Communication. The central idea is to develop new information about the best ways to reduce negative interactions and promote positive interactions on social media platforms.

“Most of us are well aware of the way virtual social spaces can quickly become forums for base human exchange,” Whitlock said. “Understanding why this happens and, most importantly, how we might intervene as bystanders, developers, or policy makers is one of our primary goals with this project. We want to be part of the larger conversation about how to replace the worst of us with the best of us in online gathering places.”

The project team – which also includes Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior and Renѐ Kizilcec, assistant professor of information science – will focus their research on four areas:

  • preventing the spread of fake news,
  • preventing cyberbullying,
  • promoting online support for mental distress, and
  • promoting online support for people in educational settings.

The project will receive funding from the Institute for Social Science for three academic years. In the second year, project team members including Whitlock will spend half of their working hours “in residence” at the institute to promote interdisciplinary collaboration. During the third year, they hope to publish work from the project and secure funding from an external source to keep the project going.

Whitlock brings nearly two decades of research experience on youth mental health. For this project, she will focus on online exchange related to mental health distress and well-being, as well as collaborating with project team members on their focus areas..

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Janis Whitlock    Natalie Bazarova    research    social media    technology    youth   

Retirement can bring health risks

Tags: aging,   Maria Fitzpatrick,   research,  

Portrait of Maria Fitzpatrick

Maria Fitzpatrick,

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Most people think of their retirement as golden years when they will pursue hobbies and passions they did not have time for when working full-time. But a study by Maria Fitzpatrick, the BCTR’s Milman Fellow, finds that the post-work years may not be so idyllic.

Fitzpatrick published a working paper that examined the link between retirement and health. To do this, she and her coauthor, Timothy Moore, combined data on mortality from the National Center for Health Statistics, a longitudinal data set of all deaths in the U.S., and Social Security benefits records.

Since Social Security benefits are first available at age 62, many people retire when they reach that age.  Fitzpatrick wanted to find out if there were also sudden changes in health at that age.  She found an increase in mortality for men at age 62. The increased risk was smaller and not as clear for women.

Since both men and women are most likely to collect Social Security benefits at age 62, but only men are more likely to retire, the increase in mortality is likely not related to collecting new benefits, but retiring from work, Fitzpatrick said.

“Retirement is a time of people’s lives when there is a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “The results from our study suggest that people thinking about early retirement should pay close attention to their health as they transition to retirement.  They should be sure to take care of themselves, be careful in their activities, especially driving, and check in with a physician if anything goes awry.”

Fitzpatrick did find some limitations in the data. Specifically, there was no way to tell if the increases in mortality continued in the long-term as people got older and no way to measure mortality rates when people retired at ages other than 62.

Fitzpatrick is an associate professor in the Department of Policy and Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Related:

Fitzpatrick named BCTR Milman Fellow

Ep. 18: The Well Being of Children and Older Adults with Maria Fitzpatrick - Doing Translational Research podcast

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    Maria Fitzpatrick    research   

Researchers: Work with us!


photo of researcher at a desk in a computer lab

NDACAN Summer Research Institute attendee Yahayra Michel Smith working with a dataset

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Calling all Cornell social science researchers: The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research offers a broad range of opportunities for scholars interested in conducting translational research.

For faculty members interested in translational research, BCTR experts can strengthen a grant proposal, offer training and technical support, and help to set up collaborative relationships with faculty members. For experienced researchers, the BCTR offers access to data sets and research participants that can increase the likelihood your project will receive funding.

“When we think about translational research in the BCTR, we focus on assisting social scientists who want to move their theories, models, and methods into real-world settings,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the BCTR. “We can help them shortcut a lengthy sample recruitment process because of our access to diverse vulnerable populations. The BCTR also has an unusual array of data sets available for secondary analysis, including evaluation studies that address a range of human problems. And we can assist researchers in thinking out dissemination plans for their proposals.”

The BCTR can also open doors for researchers who wish to connect with the statewide network of county Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) associations.

Many associations now have “Research Navigators,” who have been trained in research methodologies, ethical considerations, and participant recruitment strategies. Many social scientists at Cornell have found that partnerships with Cooperative Extension educators help them to identify emerging needs and research questions from people on the ground in the communities across New York State.  CCE educators also provide invaluable help in recruiting participants for Cornell research projects.

“A great example is the state 4-H Youth Development Program,” Pillemer said. “Any researcher recruiting youth from elementary through high school can find assistance in recruiting diverse participants in this age range.”

Karl Pillemer (HDEV) in conversation with 87-year old alumna Helen Rosenblatt for The Legacy Project: Older Americans offer tips and advice on surviving and thriving.

Research participant Helene Rosenblatt with Karl Pillemer (used with permission)

In addition to the 4-H program, the BCR has cultivated relationships with an array of organizations that provide access to broad segments of the population in New York State, including thousands of low-income families who participate in nutrition programs, military families, more than 300,000 members of senior centers in New York City, and more. These “research ready” organizations can facilitate recruitment of hard-to-reach populations.

In addition, the BCTR shares data collected through more than 20 projects that span the life course, offering a unique opportunity for secondary analysis. The data sets include 4-H participant data, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Achieve, data from parents of children who self-injure, surveys of nursing home staff and workers in residential youth facilities, and many others.

“Since it began 7 years ago, a core mission of the BCTR has been to make it easier for Cornell researchers to conduct translational research involving agencies, organizations, and communities. We have now organized a set of services to make it even easier for faculty, graduate students, and other researchers to collaborate with us.”

To find out more, see our For Researchers page.

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: research    translational research   

Cornell Project 2Gen sponsors early education research


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Cornell Project 2Gen sponsored two researchers’ presentations at the Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium meeting last month in Washington D.C.

Portrait of Lisa McCabe

Lisa McCabe

BCTR research associate Lisa McCabe, Cornell sociology professor John Sipple and Cornell alumnae Hope Casto, associate professor of education studies at Skidmore College, gave two presentations to early education scholars on research sponsored by Project 2Gen, which focuses on helping vulnerable families by developing programs that support parents and their children jointly.

The first explored factors related to child care deserts, neighborhoods and communities that are lacking access to child care for working families, particularly for children under 5 years old. The work is in its early stages, McCabe said.

“Project 2Gen has allowed us to expand our work to specifically look at Head Start, regulated child care centers, family child care homes and public pre-kindergarten,” she said. “We are particularly interested in how capacity may vary by rural or urban status and community wealth.”

Their second presentation focused on the challenges in working with administrative data, and various strategies for addressing them.

“As states across the country work to improve and expand their state-wide databases on early care and education, opportunities to use these data for researching policy-relevant trends are increasing,” McCabe said. “Yet working with these large, complex data sets can be difficult.

“By sharing lessons learned in the Project 2Gen work, we hope to facilitate better collaboration between state-level administrators and researchers to promote high-quality research that informs early education policy. “

Project 2Gen works to build a community of scholars focused on 2Gen approaches to support vulnerable families and partners with practitioners and policymakers throughout New York and the nation. Two-generational programs can begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, and then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    conference    Cornell Project 2Gen    education    Lisa McCabe    presentation    research   

Workshop: How to Build Research Relationships with Non-Academic Partners, Monday, November 20, 2017

 
how to workshops

How to Build Research Relationships with Non-Academic Partners
Karl Pillemer, director, BCTR

Monday, November 20, 2017
9:00-10:30 AM
102 Mann Library



This workshop will explore how researchers can build productive partnerships and avoid difficulties when conducting studies with non-academic organizations and agencies. We will examine common problems that arise in research projects in community settings, including differences in goals, organizational structure, timelines, and dissemination priorities. The workshop will feature examples of solutions to these problems, using methods for developing mutually beneficial community partnerships with agencies. This workshop is interactive so bring your questions, issues you have encountered doing research with community agencies, and lessons learned.

To Register:

Please contact Patty Thayer at pmt6@cornell.edu
Breakfast will be served
This workshop is open to all Cornell faculty, staff, and grad students.


how to workshopsPart of an interactive workshop series

Researchers are increasingly conducting studies in community settings and applying for grants that require documentation of real-world impact. Indeed, some funders now require components such as dissemination plans, stakeholder engagement, or community participation. To meet these new demands, researchers may wish to collaborate with non-academic groups and craft research questions and results that inform practice or policy. This series of interactive workshops shares the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s extensive experience conducting research in real-world settings and translating empirical findings into practice. Each workshop addresses a key challenge that researchers face in doing translational research and provides practical tools for overcoming obstacles to conducting effective translational research.

Full 2017-2018 How To workshop series

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Collaboration lowers incidence of physical restraint for youth in care


Michael Nunno and Elliott Smith

Michael Nunno and Elliott Smith

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Two BCTR researchers have been working with a Connecticut child welfare agency to implement and evaluate a program that promotes evidence-based approaches in supporting troubled youth. The Cornell researchers and two agency administrators published the results of their collaborative effort in March in the journal Child Welfare under the title “Benefits of embedding research into practice: An agency-university collaboration”.

Since 2009, Michael Nunno and Elliott Smith, members of the research team for the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP), have consulted with Waterford County School in Connecticut, which provides residential and day care to youth with mental health problems, behavioral issues, addiction and emotional problems.

A team of agency executives, clinicians, supervisors and staff members worked with RCCP staff and consultants to learn about and implement the Children and Residential Experiences: Creating Conditions for Change (CARE) program model.  The CARE model is a research-informed framework created at the BCTR by Martha Holden and her RCCP colleagues that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships between caregivers and youth.  Nunno and Smith were part of the effort to examine if CARE was making a difference in the day-to-day life of the children and staff. 

After the school implemented the program, agency administration reported a substantial decrease in physical restraints among the school’s residential population.  Physical restraints are safety interventions that hold a youth in order to contain physical behavior that is likely to result in injury to the youth or others.  They are, however, not without risks to both the child and the staff since they can have harmful or even fatal consequences. 

“The wonderful thing about the Waterford Country School from an evaluator’s perspective is that it has a thirty-year history of collecting and publishing administrative data on measures that matter to practitioners,” Nunno said.  Our job was to portray the data in relevant and meaningful ways so that it could inform practice, soften professional resistance to change, and add to the growing evidence that relationship-based, trauma-informed practice models can create safe and therapeutic physical spaces.”

“By examining the data, we documented a 48 percent decrease in restraint events within Waterford’s residential and shelter settings,” he said. “We were able to verify the staff perceptions and narratives that the Waterford agency was becoming a safer, calmer place.” 

Yet not all Waterford programs saw this decline.  “The day-school data showed an increase in restraints in the corresponding time frame,” Nunno said.  “Although we were all surprised at this finding, our analysis triggered the agency leadership to examine the children’s social and emotional regulation needs.  They involved day-school teachers and children’s families who designed unified approaches to meet those needs.  Within months of implementing these strategies we saw a significant decrease in the use of restraints.”

The partnership between RCCP and the school demonstrates RCCP’s success at monitoring and detecting problems, guiding solutions, improving practice, supporting learning organizations, and contributing more broadly to evidence-based practice. 

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: article    collaboration    Elliott Smith    evaluation    Michael Nunno    RCCP    research    residential care    youth   

Teen dating violence strong predictor of future abuse


exner-cortens

Deinera Exner-Cortens

Teens who experience physical or psychological violence in their adolescent dating relationships have a significantly greater risk of suffering abuse in their future adult romantic relationships. A new study, led by University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work researcher Deinera Exner-Cortens, PhD, has isolated dating violence as a strong predictor that someone will suffer future abuse, even when victimized individuals were compared to others with similar backgrounds but who did not experience dating violence.

Exner-Cortens completed this research as a doctoral student at Cornell, working with John Eckenrode (BCTR associate director and professor of human development), who is also a co-author on the article.

Domestic violence takes a huge toll on the health and well-being of victims and families. Studies have shown that intimate partner violence against women has an estimated societal cost of $5.8 billion. In this light, Exner-Cortens says her study is a wake-up call that adolescent dating violence needs to be taken more seriously.

“When I talk to adolescents, they may not recognize that what they’re experiencing is dating violence,” says Exner-Cortens. “For a lot of them, it's their very first encounter in a romantic setting, so they may not know that it's not healthy. So, from a primary prevention – or stopping it before it starts – standpoint, we want to be communicating healthy relationships messages to adolescents. That you have a right to be safe in your relationship, and if a partner ever makes you feel unsafe or hurts you, that's not okay, and you have a right to leave, and to seek help.”

Exner-Cortens’ study, recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to demonstrate, in a U.S. national sample, that adolescent dating violence is uniquely implicated in a cycle of violence from adolescence to adulthood, even when comparing teens who were matched on key risk factors at the socio-demographic, individual, family, peer, school and community levels.

“For a long time adolescent romantic relationships weren’t a focus in research because people thought that they didn’t really matter for well-being,” explains Exner-Cortens. “This study strongly demonstrates that violence first experienced in adolescent relationships may become chronic, and that adolescent dating violence is an important risk factor for adult partner violence.”

Exner-Cortens and colleagues analyzed a sample of 2,161 American male and female heterosexual youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Participants were first interviewed about their dating experiences when they were ages 12-18, and then again five, and 12 years later. To measure dating violence, participants were asked if a partner had ever used insults, name-calling or disrespect in front of others; sworn at them; threatened them with violence; pushed or shoved them; or thrown objects that could hurt. Over a one-year period, about 19 per cent of teen respondents reported dating violence.

Five years after they were first victimized, female victims of adolescent dating violence had almost 1.5 times greater risk for experiencing physical adult intimate partner violence, and male victims had almost twice the risk for experiencing adult intimate partner violence. Individuals who reported intimate partner violence five years after dating violence victimization were also more likely to report intimate partner violence victimization during the twelve-year follow-up. These findings were all in comparison to a group who did not experience dating violence, but who were otherwise very similar in terms of risk history to dating violence victims. Variables used to create this well-matched comparison group included known predictors of adult intimate partner violence, such as child maltreatment, substance use and mental health.

“This is the first study to show that even when we get rid of many other confounding factors, dating violence still emerges as a predictor,” says Exner-Cortens. “Something is happening in those relationships over and above other things that would predict risk. Dating violence appears to set off some sort of cycle in terms of interpersonal violence.”

Exner-Cortens is calling for improved screening for adolescent dating violence in health-care settings, as well as the need for intervention programs for teens who have experienced abuse in their dating relationships. Programs that prevent adolescent dating violence before it starts are also key to intimate partner violence prevention.

Study co-authors are John Eckenrode (Cornell University), John Bunge (Cornell University) and Emily Rothman (Boston University). The research was supported by funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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(0) Comments.  |   Tags: adolescence    article    Deinera Exner-Cortens    domestic violence    John Eckenrode    research    violence   
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