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Psych, Volume 4, Issue 3 (September 2022) – 10 articles

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Review
Pharmacological Strategies for Suicide Prevention Based on the Social Pain Model: A Scoping Review
Psych 2022, 4(3), 494-515; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030038 (registering DOI) - 05 Aug 2022
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Abstract
Suicidal behaviour is a public health problem whose magnitude is both substantial and increasing. Since many individuals seek medical treatment following a suicide attempt, strategies aimed at reducing further attempts in this population are a valid and feasible secondary prevention approach. An evaluation [...] Read more.
Suicidal behaviour is a public health problem whose magnitude is both substantial and increasing. Since many individuals seek medical treatment following a suicide attempt, strategies aimed at reducing further attempts in this population are a valid and feasible secondary prevention approach. An evaluation of the available evidence suggests that existing treatment approaches have a limited efficacy in this setting, highlighting the need for innovative approaches to suicide prevention. Existing research on the neurobiology of social pain has highlighted the importance of this phenomenon as a risk factor for suicide, and has also yielded several attractive targets for pharmacological strategies that could reduce suicidality in patients with suicidal ideation or a recent attempt. In this paper, the evidence related to these targets is synthesized and critically evaluated. The way in which social pain is related to the “anti-suicidal” properties of recently approved treatments, such as ketamine and psilocybin, is examined. Such strategies may be effective for the short-term reduction in suicidal ideation and behaviour, particularly in cases where social pain is identified as a contributory factor. These pharmacological approaches may be effective regardless of the presence or absence of a specific psychiatric diagnosis, but they require careful evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic (MHC))
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Case Report
A Single-Case Series Trial of Emotion-Regulation and Relationship Safety Intervention for Youth Affected by Sexual Exploitation
Psych 2022, 4(3), 475-493; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030037 - 03 Aug 2022
Viewed by 164
Abstract
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a significant global problem. Interventions implemented with youth affected by CSE frequently target singular adjacent issues (e.g., substance misuse or running away); however, research indicates these interventions are most efficacious when they simultaneously treat CSE sequelae (e.g., emotion [...] Read more.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a significant global problem. Interventions implemented with youth affected by CSE frequently target singular adjacent issues (e.g., substance misuse or running away); however, research indicates these interventions are most efficacious when they simultaneously treat CSE sequelae (e.g., emotion dysregulation) paired with relationship skill-building; yet few such interventions exist. Furthermore, the evidence-based reports on CSE research currently lacks rigorous research methods, such as the use of validated measures and the provision of robust outcome data. The current study aimed to implement a combined emotion regulation and safe-relationships intervention (ERIC + YR: emotion regulation, impulse control and ‘your relationships’) in a community service providing outreach for young women affected by CSE. A randomised single-case series design was used to test the effects of ERIC + YR on emotion regulation strategies, psychological wellbeing, relationship safety knowledge and behaviours, across repeated measurements for young women affected by CSE (N = 2; Mage = 18.00). Phase A consisted of baseline measures for two to three weeks. Phase B consisted of 8-sessions of ERIC + YR delivered across three to six weeks by practitioners who had undertaken ERIC + YR training. Data collection included pre/post intervention measures as well as a daily questionnaire delivered via a smartphone application. While results showed clinically significant and reliable improvements in psychological wellbeing, no other outcome measures showed change between pre and post-intervention. The current study contributes to the evidence-base as an initial step in illuminating how an empirically driven intervention can be delivered as an adjunctive treatment for youth affected by CSE. Implications inform the current evidence-base, with future directions for intervention research discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic (MHC))
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Article
Anxiety, Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Physicians Compared to Nurses during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Observational, Cross Sectional, Multicentric Study
Psych 2022, 4(3), 465-474; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030036 - 02 Aug 2022
Viewed by 223
Abstract
(1) Background: The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the precarious health situation of our country, thanks to the grueling workloads caused by understaffing and fear of contracting COVID-19. By considering this critical situation, frontline healthcare professionals who have been directly involved in the diagnosis, [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the precarious health situation of our country, thanks to the grueling workloads caused by understaffing and fear of contracting COVID-19. By considering this critical situation, frontline healthcare professionals who have been directly involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of SARS-CoV-2 patients are now at risk of developing psychological distress and other mental health symptoms, accomplices of the fear of contracting the COVID-19 and the exhausting workloads. (2) Methods: An observational, cross-sectional, multicenter study was conducted by administering an online questionnaire to all Italian physicians and nurses who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire consists of socio-demographic characteristics, an assessment of anxiety levels with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), which also assessed trait and state anxiety, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to evaluate the condition of depressive severity, and, finally, the Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES–R), which was administered in order to quantify the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among the participants. (3) Results: A total of 770 Italian healthcare workers were enrolled in this study. Of these, 95 (12.30%) were physicians and 675 (87.70%) were nurses. By considering PTSD, anxiety, and depression levels between the physicians and nurses recruited, a significant difference was reported in the STAI-1 assessment, as both physicians and nurses reported slight and moderate levels (p = 0.033). (4) Conclusions: Physicians and nurses, who have been subjected to physical impoverishment, with the infinite physical forces spent to support the pace of work at the limits of the possible, but above all mental capacity, with the anxiety of having to face an unknown enemy, such as COVID-19. This has resulted in a significant increase in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic symptoms, and sleep disturbances, with possible repercussions not only on the quality of life of the physicians and nurses but also on the quality of assistance provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health Disorders and Nursing Implications in the COVID-19 Era)
Review
Challenges and Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health: A Systematic Review
Psych 2022, 4(3), 435-464; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030035 - 01 Aug 2022
Viewed by 278
Abstract
The measures put in place to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 infection, such as quarantine, self-isolation, and lockdown, were supportive but have significantly affected the mental wellbeing of individuals. The primary goal of this study was to review the impact of COVID-19 [...] Read more.
The measures put in place to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 infection, such as quarantine, self-isolation, and lockdown, were supportive but have significantly affected the mental wellbeing of individuals. The primary goal of this study was to review the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. An intensive literature search was conducted using PsycINFO, PsyciatryOnline, PubMed, and the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases. Articles published between January 2020 and June 2022 were retrieved and appraised. Reviews and retrospective studies were excluded. One hundred and twenty-two (122) relevant articles that fulfilled the inclusion criteria were finally selected. A high prevalence of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorders was reported. Alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, stigmatization, and suicidal tendencies have all been identified as direct consequences of lockdown. The eminent risk factors for mental health disorders identified during COVID-19 include fear of infection, history of mental illness, poor financial status, female gender, and alcohol drinking. The protective factors for mental health include higher income levels, public awareness, psychological counseling, social and government support. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of mental disorders in addition to economic hardship. This strongly suggests the need to monitor the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. Full article
Article
Falsification of the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire: No Evidence of Systemic Sexual Harassment in Academic STEM
Psych 2022, 4(3), 404-434; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030034 - 20 Jul 2022
Viewed by 384
Abstract
Herein, the socio-psychological narrative of sexual harassment (SH) is critically evaluated. The notion of systemic SH in university departments of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is contradicted by the overwhelming (>90%) career satisfaction among female STEM academics. The Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ), [...] Read more.
Herein, the socio-psychological narrative of sexual harassment (SH) is critically evaluated. The notion of systemic SH in university departments of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is contradicted by the overwhelming (>90%) career satisfaction among female STEM academics. The Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ), central to the study of SH, inheres the nominalistic fallacy. SEQ usage deploys subjectivist methodologies, categorical ambiguity, the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, and treats respondents as cyphers. Intercorrelation of SEQ factors reduces response statistics by 42%, while phase-space vector geometry indicates the SEQ does not measure SH. Personality analysis implies that serial abusers dominate the incidence of SH. The widespread notion that 20–25% of female college students suffer violent sexual assault rests on a misreading of published work. The 2016 Campus Climate Survey permits an upper limit estimate that 3.2% of female college students suffer rape at the hands of 4.3% of male student perpetrators, largely accompanied by drugs or alcohol. The 2018 National Academy (NAS) Report on sexual harassment in STEM exhibits negligent scholarship and carelessly generalizing statistics and may itself promote violation of the EEOC legal definition of SH. Despite instances of grievous sex-based abuse, there is no evidence that female STEM academics face systemic sexual harassment. Finally, evolutionary psychology and the social significance of personality provide a scientific understanding of SH. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prominent Papers in Psych- 2021-2023!)
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Article
Biases of Temporal Duration Judgements in Visual and Auditory System
Psych 2022, 4(3), 396-403; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030033 - 08 Jul 2022
Viewed by 337
Abstract
Background: There is evidence that temporal duration is spatially represented on a horizontal mental timeline (MTL) with relatively short durations represented on the left and long duration on the right side. Most of this evidence comes from the visual domain. Objective: With the [...] Read more.
Background: There is evidence that temporal duration is spatially represented on a horizontal mental timeline (MTL) with relatively short durations represented on the left and long duration on the right side. Most of this evidence comes from the visual domain. Objective: With the present study, we investigated whether temporal duration judgements of visual and auditory stimuli might be affected by spatial biases in time representation. Methods: Participants were asked to estimate the temporal duration of a target with respect to a reference stimulus. Two different exposure times were used for the reference (fast and slow), and three exposure times for the target with respect to the reference (shorter, equal, longer). Two versions of the task were implemented to probe visual and auditory temporal processing. Results: Participants showed enhanced performance when the target had longer duration than the reference independently of the type of task, but they were affected in opposite ways by the reference exposure time, in the two tasks. Best performance was observed for the fast reference in the visual domain and for the slow reference in the auditory one. Discussion: We argue that these findings provide evidence that temporal judgments of visual and auditory stimuli are affected by the duration of the reference stimulus, besides the duration of the target stimulus. Interestingly, they suggest putative leftward and rightward spatial biases in time representation for the visual and auditory domains, respectively, although future studies are necessary to further investigate these initial findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prominent Papers in Psych- 2021-2023!)
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Article
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Registered Nurses and Nursing Students in Italy during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study
Psych 2022, 4(3), 387-395; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030032 - 08 Jul 2022
Viewed by 272
Abstract
(1) Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder characterized by a range of syndromal responses to extreme stressors. The present study aimed to explore any differences in PTSD between registered nurses and nursing students, according to sex and nursing experience, [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder characterized by a range of syndromal responses to extreme stressors. The present study aimed to explore any differences in PTSD between registered nurses and nursing students, according to sex and nursing experience, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2): Methods: An observational descriptive study was conducted among Italian nurses and nursing students during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. An online questionnaire was distributed in an anonymous form through the Google function of Google Modules to some social pages and nursing groups. (3) Results: In total, 576 participants were enrolled in this study. Of these, 291 (50.50%) were registered nurses and 285 (49.50%) were nursing students. By considering the Impact of Event Scale—Revised values in nurses and in nursing students according to sex, a significant difference was reported in the avoidance sub-dimension (p = 0.024), as female nurses recorded higher levels than nursing students. No further significant differences were suggested by considering both sex and nursing experience, respectively. (4) Conclusion: PTSD could be a serious consequence for both nurses and nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health Disorders and Nursing Implications in the COVID-19 Era)
Article
Examining the Experiences of US Dentists during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Policy and Practice
Psych 2022, 4(3), 375-386; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030031 - 07 Jul 2022
Viewed by 262
Abstract
(1) Background: As an emerging topic, no known study to date has described interviews with US dentists regarding their experiences during the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with regard to office closures and their implications for both the dentists and the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: As an emerging topic, no known study to date has described interviews with US dentists regarding their experiences during the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with regard to office closures and their implications for both the dentists and the patients they serve, especially among dentists in their first decade of work and new to practice ownership roles. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of early-career US dentists during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Methods: This study utilized a semi-structured interview protocol and employed qualitative descriptive methodology. SPSS 26 and NVivo12 were utilized for data analysis. (3) Results: In April 2020, a total of 12 early-career US dentists completed the interview study protocol. The study sample majority was male (67%), with a mean age of 32 (range = 30–37) and an average of 6 years of dental practice experience (range = 5–10). Participants completed phone interviews with the research team. In summary, three organizing themes emerged: (1) Dentistry during COVID-19: Experiences during the first wave, (2) Long-term concerns regarding COVID-19, and (3) COVID-19 professional communication and dental research. (4) Conclusions: The chief findings of this study are dentists’ long-term concerns for the profession post-COVID-19. Research must still determine how to best prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks with regards to safeguarding the health of the dental workforce and maintaining the oral health of patient populations. Full article
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Article
Examining and Improving the Gender and Language DIF in the VERA 8 Tests
Psych 2022, 4(3), 357-374; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030030 - 06 Jul 2022
Viewed by 274
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to examine and improve differential item functioning (DIF) across gender and language groups in the VERA 8 tests. We used multigroup concurrent calibration with full and partial invariance based on the Rasch and two-parameter logistic (2PL) models, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to examine and improve differential item functioning (DIF) across gender and language groups in the VERA 8 tests. We used multigroup concurrent calibration with full and partial invariance based on the Rasch and two-parameter logistic (2PL) models, and classified students into proficiency levels based on their test scores and previously defined cut scores. The results indicated that some items showed gender- and language-specific DIF when using the Rasch model, but we did not detect large misfit items (suspected as DIF) when using the 2PL model. When the item parameters were estimated using the 2PL model with partial invariance assumption (PI-2PL), only small or negligible misfit items were found in the overall tests for both groups. It is argued in this study that the 2PL model should be preferred because both of its approaches provided less bias. However, especially in the presence of unweighted sample sizes of German and non-German students, the non-German students had the highest misfit item proportions. Although the items with medium or small misfit did not have a significant effect on the scores and performance classifications, the items with large misfit changed the proportions of students at the highest and lowest performance levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Psychometrics and Educational Measurement)
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Article
What Is the Maximum Likelihood Estimate When the Initial Solution to the Optimization Problem Is Inadmissible? The Case of Negatively Estimated Variances
Psych 2022, 4(3), 343-356; https://doi.org/10.3390/psych4030029 - 30 Jun 2022
Viewed by 312
Abstract
The default procedures of the software programs Mplus and lavaan tend to yield an inadmissible solution (also called a Heywood case) when the sample is small or the parameter is close to the boundary of the parameter space. In factor models, a [...] Read more.
The default procedures of the software programs Mplus and lavaan tend to yield an inadmissible solution (also called a Heywood case) when the sample is small or the parameter is close to the boundary of the parameter space. In factor models, a negatively estimated variance does often occur. One strategy to deal with this is fixing the variance to zero and then estimating the model again in order to obtain the estimates of the remaining model parameters. In the present article, we present one possible approach for justifying this strategy. Specifically, using a simple one-factor model as an example, we show that the maximum likelihood (ML) estimate of the variance of the latent factor is zero when the initial solution to the optimization problem (i.e., the solution provided by the default procedure) is a negative value. The basis of our argument is the very definition of ML estimation, which requires that the log-likelihood be maximized over the parameter space. We present the results of a small simulation study, which was conducted to evaluate the proposed ML procedure and compare it with Mplus’ default procedure. We found that the proposed ML procedure increased estimation accuracy compared to Mplus’ procedure, rendering the ML procedure an attractive option to deal with inadmissible solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Aspects and Software in Psychometrics II)
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