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Archive for October, 2014

SHARP Members Winners of Psychology Undergraduate Research Grants

Congratulations to Alyssa Zabin and Megan Iaccoca, who have been awarded UConn Psychology Undergraduate Research Grants to support her honor’s thesis studies! Alyssa’s project, directed by Profs. Blair Johnson (Psychology) and Denise Panosky (Nursing), focuses on the health of correctional nurses; Megan’s, directed by Prof. Crystal Park (Psychology), focuses on aspects of religiosity.

Great work!

SHARP Study Makes Top-10 List

The British Psychological Society has published a list of The 10 most controversial psychology studies ever published, which includes such classics as The Little Albert study, Milgram’s obedience studies, and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment.

List of the Ten Most Controversial Psychology Studies

Most Controversial Psychology Studies

A SHARP study published in 2008 in PLoS Medicine has made the list as well; SHARP alumna Tania Huedo-Medina and current leader Prof. Blair Johnson are authors, with Johnson the “senior” or last author; the study was led by UConn Professor Emeritus, Irving Kirsch.

The study re-analyzed results from studies submitted to the Federal Drug Administration for approval of antidepressants as a pharmacological treatment for depression (include trade names such as Prosac). The work made international headlines when initially published, and was roundly criticized by many who have been funded by pharmacological work on depression; Kirsch and his team had no funding to conduct the work in question. Kirsch, Huedo-Medina, and/or Johnson have written rejoinders to some of the many critiques (e.g., here is one from 2012) and explained the results for lay audiences (e.g., here is one from 2008). Prof. Kirsch published a popular book on the subject, The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth.

It was the 2008 article that spurred Prof. Johnson to examine alternative treatments for depression, as partially explained on the History link of this site. Subsequent SHARP studies have shown that, for cancer survivors (who often suffer depression and other mental health decrements), aerobic exercise lowers depression and increases quality of life; also, resistance exercise reduces chronic fatigue for cancer survivors. Separately, SHARP research found that for heterosexual women at risk for HIV, behavioral interventions that reduce depression are more successful at reducing risk for HIV. This research is notable because it suggests that HIV risk reduction interventions may have positive mental health benefits, even though most of them do not explicitly focus on improving mental health.

The SHARP team remains interested in mental health issues, among other subjects.

Prof. Johnson Appointed Senior Editor at Social Sciences & Medicine

As of August, 2014, Prof. Johnson has been appointed senior editor, Health Psychology section, Social Science & Medicineone of the top-15 journals focused on health, broadly conceived. Hayley V. MacDonald is his editorial assistant. Any inquiries about the journal should be sent to this email address.