2014-2015 News

First Graduates of Health Psychology Program Receive Doctorates

> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "The first cohort of Ph.D. students in the Health Psychology Program of the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences has received, or will soon receive, their doctorates, marking a major milestone for the program, which emphasizes understanding how biological, psychological, behavioral, cultural and social contextual factors influence health and illness."


Drs. Cobb, Corona, Langberg, Breland, and Koch Receive Research Grants to Curb Youth Tobacco Use

> View the VCU Spectrum story

Excerpt: "The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth has awarded three grants of up to $450,000 each to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University to conduct two studies and support a research coalition focused on preventing tobacco use among young people... One of the projects, “Categorization and Effects of e-cigarette Ads on Attitudes, Intentions and Abuse Liability in Youth,” will explore the impact of electronic cigarette advertising on young people. “Unlike combustible tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes can be and are marketed towards youth and nearly one in six high school seniors report using an e-cigarette in the past month,” said Andrew Barnes, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research in the School of Medicine, who is leading the study along with Caroline Cobb, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences."

"Another project, “Integrating Tobacco Prevention Strategies into Behavioral Parent Training for Adolescents with ADHD,” will investigate strategies to curb tobacco use among young people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a highly prevalent mental health disorder and adolescents with ADHD are at high risk to initiate tobacco use early and to progress to heavy use quickly,” wrote the research team – which is led by VCU psychology professors Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., and Joshua Langberg, Ph.D. – with the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development in the Department of Psychology. “This poses enormous health risks for adolescents with ADHD and can negatively impact brain development.”"

"The third grant, directed by VCU psychology professors J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., and Alison Breland, Ph.D., will support the Virginia Youth Tobacco Projects Research Coalition, established in 2002 to advance the prevention of youth tobacco use and nicotine dependence through an integrated program of basic and applied research, research translation and dissemination. The award will help the coalition maintain and facilitate the growth of its statewide network of investigators conducting research on the causes and prevention of youth tobacco use, conduct a small grants program to encourage innovative research, disseminate the latest research on preventing youth tobacco use, and more."

cobb-thumb corona-thumb langberg-thumb breland-thumb koch-thumb

Dr. Faye Belgave Wins APA Award

belgrave-thumbDr. Faye Belgrave has been named co-recipient of the American Psychological Association's Charles and Shirley Thomas Award. The award is given by the APA's Division 45, the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race, and recognizes significant contributions in the areas of student mentoring and development, as well as contributions toward making psychology responsive and relevant to the needs of the African-American community.



Dr. Rose Corona Wins APA Award

corona-thumbDr. Rose Corona recently won the APA Minority Fellowship Program Dalmas Taylor Award for her outstanding contributions towards the development of ethnic minority psychologists.

 

 




Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk Recognized by VCU Council for Community Engagement

> View the VCU News story

rybarczyk-thumbDr. Bruce Rybarczyk was recognized by the Council for Community Engagement for an outstanding university-community partnership for his project Integrating Behavioral Care into Local Safety Net Primary Care Clinics.

Excerpt: "The award for exemplary partnership in outreach went to The Safety Net Primary Care Psychology Collaborative, a collaboration of the Fan Free Clinic, The Daily Planet, the Department of Internal Medicine, the Department of Psychology and the Ambulatory Care Center. Three safety net primary care clinics in Richmond (VCU Ambulatory Care Center, The Daily Planet and Fan Free Clinic) reached out to Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., in the Department of Psychology, for help addressing unmet mental health needs among their patients. A high percentage of patients (upwards of 50 percent of all patients) with mental health concerns were either not receiving care at all or were obtaining substandard care due to a wide range of economic and other barriers. Beginning in 2008, Rybarczyk started embedding supervised doctoral trainees from the clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs in these three safety net primary care clinics. Since that time, trainees have delivered more than 8,500 sessions of pro bono behavioral care to underserved individuals in the Greater Richmond area."


Dr. Rose Corona Wins VCU PACME Award

corona-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: " At the 2015 Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment ceremony on April 14, Virginia Commonwealth University recognized four employees and a student for making the university a more inclusive place. The PACME awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions toward enhancing VCU’s commitment to diversity, excellence and inclusion. Four separate awards are designated to recognize students, faculty, staff and administrators. In addition to the award, each recipient receives $500. “PACME celebrates members of VCU’s academic and health system communities who go beyond the call of duty in promoting our greatest asset — our people who work, live and learn at VCU and other diverse communities,” said Wanda Mitchell, Ed.D., vice president for inclusive excellence. “Diversity is a hallmark of VCU and has helped to propel us towards excellence as a great place to live, learn and work.”

Dr. Rose Corona won one of the faculty PACME awards.


Natalie Robles Receives an Inclusive Excellence Summer Research Fellowship

robles-thumbNatalie Robles, senior Psychology major and member of VCU's soccer team, received an Inclusive Excellence Summer Research Fellowship to work with Dr. Zewe Serpell on a research project that entails secondary data analysis of a large publicly available dataset of students in special education. Many developmental disorders have been associated with deficits in executive functions, and some studies indicate that exercise can be used to improve executive functions. The goal of her research project is to explore the degree to which different subgroups of children with disabilities participate in athletic activities, and whether this participation is associated with better cognitive and academic outcomes.


Dr. Terri Sullivan Wins Excellence in Scholarship Award

sullivan-thumbCongratulations to Dr. Terri Sullivan for winning the 2015 College of Humanities and Sciences Excellence in Scholarship (Math & Science-related) Award! Her research program focuses on understanding the impact of aggression and exposure to violence on children's healthy psychosocial and emotional development. This research includes examination of the relations between aggression and exposure to violence (including witnessing violence and victimization) and psychosocial maladjustment, and identifying risk and protective factors that may magnify or buffer these relations. A key goal within this area is to address the distinct constructs of relational and physical aggression and victimization in the context of peer and dating relations. Another aspect of her research focuses on the evaluation of school-based violence prevention efforts, especially for students with high incidence disabilities.


Amy Jeffers Receives NIH F31 Research Grant

jeffers-thumbAmy Jeffers, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was recently awarded an F31 research grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project entitled, “Non-medical use of prescription stimulants (NMUPS) for weight loss in adolescents.” This project will investigate NMUPS for weight loss in an adolescent sample, and assess its relation with other problematic cognitions and health behaviors, including disordered eating behaviors and risk outcomes (e.g., ER visits) utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. In addition, she will evaluate motivations and attitudes about NMUPS, as these constructs might be most amenable to change in a future intervention. Broadly, Amy’s research focuses on substance use and eating disorders/obesity. Specifically, she is interested in the intersection of these topics and how individuals use substances for weight management.


Student Award and Scholarship Winners

Student Award and Scholarship Winners

Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk Discusses Primary Care Psychology

rybarczyk-thumb> View the APA article

Excerpt: "When Benjamin Lord started his clinical psychology doctoral program at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007, he had no idea that working in a medical setting as a psychologist was even a possibility. "I knew I wanted to be a psychologist," he says, "but I only knew one way of doing that: long-term psychotherapy." Lord's work as a Graduate Psychology Education (GPE)-funded clinician in the university's primary-care clinic opened his eyes to new possibilities. The experience gave Lord a chance to learn brief interventions for mental health concerns as well as work shoulder-to-shoulder with other health-care professionals in addressing smoking, obesity and other behavioral health issues among the clinic's low-income patients. . .

"Virginia Commonwealth's GPE funding has supported more than 8,000 care sessions since 2010. And even though the interventions the students provide are brief, they work, says Rybarczyk. Patient tracking shows that they don't just get better during treatment, but also keep improving over the next year, says Rybarczyk, who will be submitting these and other findings to a peer-reviewed journal. GPE grant support isn't just helping patients, adds Rybarczyk. It's also building a psychology workforce ready to practice in integrated settings. Six of the seven students now on internship are focusing on primary care as a career path. Three graduates are now doing primary-care postdocs, while another three have primary-care psychology jobs. "There's a big demand out there for psychologists who can be channeled into primary-care psychology," says Rybarczyk."


Dr. Joshua Langberg Receives Institute of Education Science Research Grant

langberg-thumb> View the VCU News story

Congratulations to Dr. Joshua Langberg (VCU Department of Psychology) who along with Dr. Arthur Anastopolous at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro was recently awarded a 4-year grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) titled, "Improving the Educational and Social-Emotional Functioning of College Students with ADHD." Currently, there are no psychosocial interventions that have enough research support to be considered an evidence-based approach for supporting the academic and interpersonal needs of college students with ADHD. As a result, intervention and accommodation services offered to college students with ADHD vary widely across universities and colleges and it is unclear whether any are effective. This is concerning because college students with ADHD are significantly more likely than their peers to have low and failing grades, to be placed on academic probation, and ultimately to drop out of college. 

The grant from IES ($3,179,850 total; $1,228,050 to VCU) funds the first large randomized controlled trial of an intervention for college students with ADHD and will provide yearlong group intervention and mentoring services to 240 undergraduate students with ADHD. Recruitment and enrollment at VCU begins this summer (2015) and VCU students who participate will receive a comprehensive diagnostic and psychoeducational evaluation and report to determine if they are eligible. Students who are eligible will start the intervention in the fall 2015 and will receive 8, 90-minute group intervention sessions and will also be assigned a peer mentor who will meet with them a minimum of 10 times. The intervention is focused on increasing knowledge of ADHD and awareness of campus and community resources, improving organization, time-management, and other executive function skills, and teaching cognitive strategies to increase adaptive thinking. The ultimate goal of the project is to disseminate the intervention manual and resources to other colleges and universities so that they can effectively support the academic and interpersonal needs of college students with ADHD.


Sarah Javier Selected for APA Public Interest Policy Internship

javier-thumbSarah Javier, a PhD student in the Health Psychology program, was recently selected for the 2015-2016 Public Interest Policy Internship in the American Psychological Association's Public Interest Government Relations Office. The office helps to formulate and implement APA positions on major federal policy initiatives of importance to psychology in the public interest. For one year, she will participate in legislative and advocacy work impacting vulnerable populations, such as assisting in the preparation of briefing papers, testimony and other documents, and attending congressional hearings and coalition meetings. Sarah's research interests are focused in the areas of health disparities and culturally-tailored prevention. 


Megan Sutter Receives APA Graduate Research Award

sutter-thumbMegan Sutter, a doctoral student in the Health Psychology Program received a $1,500 Graduate Research Award from the American Psychological Association Division 38 (Health Psychology) to fund her research project, entitled “Pediatric burn patients: Stigma, mental health, and family dynamics.” The project will be sponsored by Dr. Paul Perrin and implemented at the Evan-Haynes Burn Center at MCV. The funded study will examine the role of burn stigma, mental health, and family dynamics in rehabilitation outcomes among pediatric burn patients and their caregivers with the goal to inform family-based intervention efforts for this population.


Michael Trujillo Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

trujillo-thumb> View the VCU News story

Michael Trujillo, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was recently awarded the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) award, which sponsors Michael to conduct his proposed project titled, "Anti-Gay Harassment and Risk Taking: The Effects of Distress and Distress Tolerance." The study will help address the mechanism by which anti-gay harassment leads to greater risk taking in gay men and will also help identify if anti-gay harassment specifically rather than harassment more broadly leads to greater risk taking. If shown to be true, the study's results can help promote positive coping strategies not only for gay men but also for other groups experiencing minority distress. Broadly, Michael is interested in the physical and mental health consequences of discrimination, especially in minority populations.


Tess Drazdowski Receives APS Student Research Grant

drazdowski-thumb> Read the VCU News story

Tess Drazdowski, a PhD Clinical-Developmental psychology scholar, was one of the graduate student winners of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Student Research Grant Competition. Up to three small “seed grants” were funded to support research in its initial development stages. It was awarded based on peer reviews of the research proposal's clarity in the presentation of ideas, ability of the project to explain some psychological phenomenon, and ability of the project to advance research in a specified area. Tess will use the funding to access the restricted longitudinal panel data from the Monitoring the Future database for her dissertation. The project will evaluate what motivates young adults (ages 18 to 24) to engage in and continue to misuse prescription drugs, as well as the role college attendance plays in these motivations. The study aims to include young adults who are not in college and inform interventions developed to reduce the non-medical use of prescription drugs while filling a critical gap on less studied prescription drugs.


VCU Experts, Colleagues Explain Dangers of Hookah Smoking

eissenberg-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "In an upcoming special supplement to the journal Tobacco Control, researchers from around the world will explain the past decade of research on waterpipe tobacco smoking — or what is commonly known as hookah, narghile or arghile smoking. "What we're trying to do is summarize the existing literature about waterpipe smoking from all the different angles that researchers have looked at it over the last 10 or 11 years," said Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., ... and co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products. . . One of the articles, co-authored by Eissenberg and VCU researcher Eiman Aboaziza, weighs the evidence that waterpipe smoking supports nicotine or tobacco dependence. The researchers specifically look at two common claims about waterpipe tobacco smoking — that the water filters the smoke, making it less dangerous, and that many users smoke hookahs so infrequently that they are unlikely to become addicted. In both cases, the researchers concluded those claims are myths."


Michell Pope Wins Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship

pope-thumbMichell Pope, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was awarded the Susan E. Kennedy Scholarship named in honor of Dr. Susan E. Kennedy, former chair of the History Department and Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. It is awarded based on academic achievement and evidence and quality of how the applicant has advanced the presence of women in higher education. Michell's program of research has primarily focused on factors that promote the health of African American adolescent girls and the African American community more generally. For example, her master’s thesis focused on African American girls’ perceptions of their body and influences on those feelings. Additionally, she received grant funding from the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth to support her dissertation research examining risk and protective factors for African American parent and adolescent tobacco use including the use of alternative products (e.g., cigars, cigarillos). 


Dan Berry Receives Research Grant

berryDaniel Berry, a PhD student in the Social Psychology Program who works in the Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab directed by Dr. Kirk Warren Brown, received a $15,000 Francisco Varela Award from the Mind and Life Institute to fund his research on mindfulness, empathy, and helping behavior. The project, entitled “Bridging the Empathy Gap: Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Helping Out-Group Members in Need”, will be sponsored by Dr. Brown and co-sponsored by Drs. Michael Inzlicht (University of Toronto), Jeffrey Green, and Fadel Zeidan (Wake Forest University). The funded study will compare a 4-day mindfulness intervention with a structurally-equivalent sham mindfulness intervention to understand the effects of mindfulness on physiological, behavioral, and real-world indicators of empathy and helping behavior in interracial contexts.


Dr. Ev Worthington Honored as Commonwealth Professor

worthington-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "The Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors has named psychology professor Everett Worthington Jr., Ph.D., a Commonwealth Professor – one of the highest distinctions that the board can bestow upon a VCU faculty member. Worthington, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, said he is "deeply moved and grateful" for the appointment. 'I think no other recognition has touched me as deeply," Worthington said. "The honor is a reflection of the many great colleagues at VCU (and throughout the world) that I have had over the years, who have supported me, and often carried me, in research, teaching, service, and administration. Also, my wife and family have been my primary emotional support system, and I look at this as an honor we share. I could not be more grateful to all.' . . . Worthington has published more than 350 scholarly articles and chapters and more than 35 books during his career. He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of forgiveness and reconciliation, and is regarded as one of the two founders of the field of forgiveness studies."


Dr. Al Farrell Wins SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award

farrell-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has named Albert Farrell, Ph.D., a Virginia Commonwealth University psychology professor and director of the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, as a recipient of a 2015 Outstanding Faculty Award. . . "It means a great deal to me to receive this honor. I greatly appreciated the support of my colleagues that nominated me and am proud that VCU selected me as one of their nominees," Farrell said. "It is a particularly meaningful award for me as it is based on the extent to which my work embodies the mission and values of the university. I have been here a long time – 34 years – and closely identify with VCU."

"... Farrell, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, was the founder in 2005 of the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, which brings together faculty from across VCU to collaborate on projects that promote the positive development of young people – including projects focused on reducing bullying and boosting the academic performance of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."


Dr. Faye Belgrave and Josh Brevard Publish Book, "African American Boys"

belgrave-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "The challenges faced by African-American boys and adolescents, such as negative stereotyping and racial profiling, have received a great deal of attention recently, from the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, to President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, which aims to support young black males despite opportunity gaps. A new book co-authored by a Virginia Commonwealth University professor and a VCU doctoral student is seeking to inform that conversation.

"African American Boys: Identity, Culture, and Development," by Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of brevard-thumbHumanities and Sciences, and Joshua Brevard, a health psychology Ph.D. student, provides in-depth information on topics including self and identity; school expectations and achievement; peers, family and kin; and delinquency and victimization."





Dr. Wendy Kliewer's Research on Stress and Parenting Featured

kliewer-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "Over the course of two years, Wendy Kliewer, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, surveyed more than 300 low-income female caregivers who were parenting children in the Richmond area to learn how high levels of violence, noise, crowding and other stressful factors, such as health issues, family conflicts and concerns about money, were affecting their ability to raise the children. . . 'We found that caregivers' life stress and the victimization they reported during their first interview was related to increases in depression, anxiety and hostility one year later at their second interview. These mental health symptoms then went on to affect their parenting. One year later, at the third interview, caregivers with higher levels of depression, anxiety and hostility knew less about their adolescents' whereabouts and reported that their adolescents were less likely to confide in them.'"


Courtney Vaughan Wins NIH Scholarship

vaughan-thumbCourtney Vaughan, an undergraduate research intern in Dr. Brown’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab, has earned a place in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The UGSP provides funded scholarship support, summer research training at the NIH, and employment and training at the NIH after graduation. Courtney is triple majoring in Psychology, Science, and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies.




Center for the Study of Tobacco Products named as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center

eissenberg-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "The Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University has been named a World Health Organization collaborating center that will assist the global health organization with questions related to tobacco product testing and research. . . There are 84 collaborating centers in the United States and VCU's Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is the only collaborating center on tobacco product testing and research in the Americas, Etienne said.

'With this designation, we become a resource that the WHO can reach out to when they have issues related to tobacco product testing and research,' said Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., co-director of VCU's Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at VCU Massey Cancer Center. 'It's an honor.'"


Dr. Terri Sullivan Receives Research Grant

sullivan-thumb> View the VCU News story

> View the Richmond Times-Dispatch story

> Listen to the NPR interview

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Terri Sullivan on her new $2.66 million grant from the National Institute of Justice titled "Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Sustainability of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in Increasing School Safety in Urban Middle Schools." This four-year project builds on an evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) being completed as part of a CDC-funded Youth Violence Prevention Center within the VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development and in partnership with Richmond City Public Middle Schools. OBPP is a comprehensive school-based program designed to prevent youth violence and bullying by improving school climate. Although this program is being implemented in hundreds of schools across the U.S., few studies have evaluated its impact on schools in the U.S. The goal of this project is to increase the knowledge gained from our current Youth Violence Prevention Center project by supporting the continuation of OBPP in two middle schools, implementing this program in a third school, and collecting three additional years of data on proximal and distal outcomes for OBPP. The extension of the multiple baseline research design will provide a clearer picture of the relation between implementation of OBPP and changes in outcomes over time in the two schools where OBPP is currently being implemented, and will allow us to examine changes in outcomes that occur after implementing this program in the third school.


Dr. Ev Worthington Coauthors New Book on Couple Therapy

worthington-thumb> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "A new book co-written by psychology professors at Virginia Commonwealth University and Regent University provides more than 100 practical exercises to help couples improve their relationships. Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., a professor and director of the psychology program at Regent “Couple Therapy: A New Hope-Focused Approach,” by Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., a professor and director of the psychology program at Regent, and Everett Worthington, Ph.D., a professor in VCU’s Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, is geared toward couples counselors but is also accessible to anyone who wants to work on their relationship. 'It’s a very practical book that provides exercises that couples can do to make their relationship better,' Worthington said. 'And it’s structured within a nicely organized theory. So it all makes sense — it’s not just a hodgepodge of methods.' The book is centered on the professors’ approach to couples counseling, known as 'Hope-Focused Couples Therapy,' which focuses on assessment, feedback, creating commitment, communication, problem-solving, understanding each others’ pasts, apologies and forgiveness. It also seeks to accommodate religious ideas and principles of healthy living from faith traditions. 'The book is unique in drawing from the best of science and the best of religion,' Ripley said."


Dr. Nao Hagiwara's Research Featured by Science Daily

hagiwara-thumb> View the Science Daily story

Research by Dr. Nao Hagiwara and colleagues was featured by Science Daily. In a laboratory experiment, women who described themselves using masculine-like traits (assertive, independent, achievement oriented) were evaluated as more fitting for the job than those who emphasized female-like traits (warmth, supportiveness, nurturing).





Dr. Beth Heller Interviewed about Children's School Anxiety

heller-thumb> Listen to the Interview

Dr. Beth Heller, Director of the Center for Psychological Services and Development, was interviewed by Jimmy Barrett on his morning show on WRVA. The topic of conversation was how parents can help their children deal with school-related anxieties.





Dr. Caroline Cobb Receives Research Grant

cobb-thumbCongratulations to Dr. Caroline Cobb on receiving an R21 grant from the National Cancer Institute! Prevalence and awareness of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) appear to be increasing rapidly among US adults, particularly current smokers, with little information available concerning patterns of use and toxicant exposure. The proposed research study will recruit current dual users of cigarettes and e-cigarettes (N=28) to complete four, 5-day conditions that differ by tobacco products used in order to compare behavior and toxicant exposure during dual use, cigarette-only use, e-cigarette-only use, and no tobacco/nicotine use. Results will inform both the Center for Tobacco Products’ regulatory decisions regarding e-cigarettes and support future research to examine the long term effects of e-cigarette use on cigarette smoking behavior.


Dr. Bryce McLeod Receives Research Grant

mcleod-thumbView the VCU News story

Congratulations to Dr. Bryce McLeod on a $1,599,923 research grant, "Development and Validation of Treatment Integrity Measures for Classroom-Based Interventions," from the Institute of Education Sciences. Efforts to implement and evaluate evidence-based programs for preschool children with problem behaviors in early childhood classrooms face a number of implementation and evaluation barriers due in part to measurement limitations in the field. At present, there are no treatment integrity measures designed to assess efforts to implement evidence-based practices in early childhood classrooms. Drs. Bryce D. McLeod (Department of Psychology) and Kevin Sutherland (Department of Special Education and Disability Policy) received a 4-year grant from the Institute for Education Sciences to develop observational and teacher-report measures designed to characterize the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices delivered by teachers in early childhood classrooms. Both measures will contain items representing evidence-based practices designed to promote behavioral (behavioral, emotional, social) development and collateral pre-academic skills that are commonly used in early childhood classrooms, and found in evidence-based programs. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop psychometrically sound observational and teacher self-report tools that can be used by both researchers and school personnel to assess whether evidence-based programs are being implemented as intended in diverse education settings.


Dr. Nao Hagiwara Receives Research Award

hagiwara-thumbA publication authored by Dr. Nao Hagiwara and colleagues received the Kales Award from Karmanos Cancer Institute in July and was acknowledged as the best publication in cancer research.

In this study, we examined how non-Black physicians’ racial bias and Black patients’ perceived discrimination affect the amount of time each talk during medical interactions. We found that both physicians and patients with more negative racial attitudes talked more than their counterparts with less negative racial attitudes. Additionally, Black patients who talked more during the medical interactions were less likely to adhere to their physicians’ medical recommendations subsequently. Our findings indicate that greater patient talk time may not reflect positive patient reactions to patient-centered care in medical interactions involving patients and physicians of different races. This highlights the importance of recognizing and understanding how the racial composition of patients and physicians can affect the dynamics of patient-centered care."

Hagiwara, N., Penner, L. A., Gonzalez, R., Eggly, S., Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., West, T., & Albrecht, T. L. (2013). Racial attitudes, physician-patient talk time ratio, and adherence in racially discordant medical interactions. Social Science & Medicine, 87, 123-131.

Electronic Cigarettes Research is in the News

breland-thumb> View the Science Daily story

Excerpt: "Electronic cigarettes (ECIGs) are booming in popularity -- but there's still only limited evidence on their potential health risks, or their advertised benefits in helping people to quit smoking, according to a research review in the July/August Journal of Addiction Medicine . . . Based on their review, Alison B. Breland, PhD, of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, and colleagues, write, '[V]ery little is known about the acute and longer-term effects of ECIG use for individuals and the public health, especially given the dramatic variability in ECIG devices, liquids, and user behavior.'"


Morgan Maxwell Receives Boren Fellowship

maxwell> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student has been awarded a David L. Boren Fellowship to study in Brazil during the upcoming academic year. Morgan Maxwell, a psychology doctoral student in her third year of study, will use the award to become proficient in Portuguese while evaluating the impact of culture on the quality of HIV prevention service delivery in Brazil. 'Brazil has the second-highest number of HIV cases in the Western Hemisphere,” Maxwell said. “I’ll be examining cultural factors, stigma, cultural mistrust and personal perceptions – which can all be barriers in the delivery of HIV prevention services.'"


Benefits of E-Cigarettes May Outweigh Harms

eissenberg-thumb> View the HealthDay story

> Also view the Times-Dispatch story

> View the Newsworks story

Excerpt: "Strict regulation of electronic cigarettes isn't warranted based on current evidence, a team of researchers says. On the contrary, allowing e-cigarettes to compete with regular cigarettes might cut tobacco-related deaths and illness, the researchers concluded after reviewing 81 prior studies on the use and safety of the nicotine-emitting devices. 'Current evidence suggests that there is a potential for smokers to reduce their health risks if electronic cigarettes are used in place of tobacco cigarettes and are considered a step toward ending all tobacco and nicotine use,' said study researcher Thomas Eissenberg, co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond."


Dr. Suzanne Mazzeo Receives Grant to Study Children's Eating

mazzeo-thumb> View the VCU News story

> Listen to an NPR interview

> View the WTOP story

> View the CBS News video

> Listen to a second NPR interview

Excerpt: "You can lead a kid to veggies, fruits and whole grains, but you can't make a kid eat them. A Virginia Commonwealth University professor is aiming to find out how much of the healthy school lunch options kids are actually eating after policy changes have led to more fruits and vegetables on school plates around the country. 'As a scientist, I wondered: How much plate waste is really happening? Are kids really throwing away the lunches?' Suzanne Mazzeo, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU, said in a news release ... With the help of a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Mazzeo will lead a team of researchers at two Chesterfield County, Virginia, elementary schools to examine the amount of fruits and vegetables kids are throwing away."


Inadequate Mental Health Care for Blacks with Depression

agyemang-thumb> View the Center for Advancing Health story

Excerpt: "A new study in General Hospital Psychiatry confirms that Blacks with depression plus another chronic medical condition, such as Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, do not receive adequate mental health treatment ... 'People who have depression are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and vice versa,' said lead study author Amma A. Agyemang, M.S., M.P.H. of Virginia Commonwealth University’s psychology department. 'We found depression treatment below par for minorities, even those with co-morbid diabetes or hypertension. Having a mental illness and a medical illness makes both more complex to treat, and the rate of obtaining depression treatment remains low for this population.'”


Mindfulness Meditation Leads to Stress Reduction

brown-thumbView the Epoch Times story

Excerpt: "So-called 'mindfulness meditation' has become increasingly popular as a method of improving your mental and physical health, but most of the research that supports or substantiates its benefits has primarily focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University has become the first body of work to demonstrate that even brief mindfulness mediation practice – just 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days – can mitigate psychological stressors."


Dr. Ev Worthington Receives Grant to Study Forgiveness in Africa

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Congratulations to Dr. Everett Worthington on a $938,248 research grant, "Forgiveness in Africa," from the Templeton World Charity Fund. The grant aims at promoting publishable research on local forgiveness issues by researchers in six countries of West Africa and in South Africa. The grant seeks to help build capacity of researchers to compete for publication and grants on a world stage while finding more about forgiveness in particular issues indigenous to Africa. Shawn Utsey (Psychology, VCU) will be a consultant-collaborator in the West African countries and Basal Pilay will serve that role in South Africa. Worthington's life mission, he says, is to do all he can to promote forgiveness in every willing heart, home, and homeland. Coupled with his direction of A Campaign for Forgiveness Research 1999-2005, which raised $6.4M to fund forgiveness primarily in the USA, but also in Europe, and South Africa, this latest grant takes another step in fulfilling his life mission. We wish him the best of success in working with talented African researchers to learn more about forgiveness on that continent.