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Prof. Rackow Visits SHARP (Summer, 2015)

Prof. Dr. Pamela Rackow

Prof. Dr. Pamela Rackow

Dr. Pamela Rackow, a professor in the Applied Social Psychology program at the University of Zurich will be joining SHARP starting in May and remaining for much of the summer, working on a SHARP research project. Welcome, Pamela!

UConn Designated as Federal Health Care Study Center

SHARP PI, Prof. Johnson, is Associate Director of a newly awarded Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC), part of the federally funded Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ). See more about it here. The award makes it more likely that SHARP will be offering research positions in the coming months. The EPC is funded for a five-year cycle ending in 2019.

Important Distinctions for SHARP Team Members

Two SHARP members have important achievements: (1) Mary Brisca has completed her honor’s thesis (focused on mass shootings in the U.S.) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology! And (2) Ben White was awarded an IDEA grant to support his work on a SHARP project this summer (see

Congratulations both of you!

Alyssa Zabin Earns Important UConn Distinction

SHARP member Alyssa Zabin has been named a University Scholar (link here). During the 2015 cycle, Alyssa is one of only two psychology majors to be named and is the only sociology major named out of the 28 juniors newly named to be University Scholar. This program is one of the most prestigious programs for undergraduates at the University of Connecticut. Available to students from all of the University’s schools and colleges, the University Scholar Program allows students to design and pursue an in-depth research project and to craft an individualized plan of study that supports their intellectual interests during their final three semesters; University Scholars receive special recognition at commencement. Alyssa’s research project focuses on nurse’s health and is multi-disciplinary, highlighting the exchanges between individuals and their milieus exemplifying the best of SHARP (see more here).

Congratulations, Alyssa!

SHARP takes on mental health

Prof. Johnson discusses SHARP’s past contributions to understanding the forces at play in mental health and speculates about new directions in this new video post.

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.

CHIP today covers SHARP research on community stigma


SHARP authors

This post, written by Beth Krane, addresses Allecia Reid, Jack Dovidio, Estrellita Ballester, and Blair Johnson’s research published in Social Sciences & Medicine in February, 2014. The article can be accessed on ResearchGate.

Methodological Quality article available online

To be published soon in Psychology & Healththis article addresses the use of studies’ methodological quality in meta-analysis. Co-authors include Rob Low and Hayley MacDonald.