Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    The persistence of welfare stigma: Does the passing of time and subsequent employment moderate the negative perceptions associated with unemployment benefit receipt?
    Schofield, TP ; Haslam, N ; Butterworth, P (Wiley, 2019-09-01)
    People receiving welfare payments are stigmatized. However, previous studies of welfare recipient stereotypes have not examined whether the stigma endures after payments are no longer received and have rarely considered the stigma associated with specific categories of welfare payments. We examined whether welfare stigma endures in three experiments (total N = 873) focused on one category of welfare recipient, people receiving government income support due to their unemployment. To test if this stigmatized identity marked or scarred how people are perceived, we compared evaluations of currently unemployed benefit recipients to currently employed people who either previously received this benefit or who had no stated history of benefit receipt. Across the three experiments, we found that current recipients of unemployment benefits were evaluated as much less conscientious, less human, and poorer workers, but as somewhat more extraverted than currently employed individuals irrespective of their welfare history. Moreover, we found that currently employed individuals were evaluated similarly, regardless of whether they had a prior history of benefit receipt, and the recency of this prior benefit experience. This pattern of results suggests that receiving unemployment benefits does not scar how a person is perceived by others, but only temporarily marks how they are perceived. These findings suggest that welfare stigma may create an evaluative barrier to returning to work, but that if this barrier can be overcome there are no negative evaluations of former recipients’ character. Overall, community members seem accepting of prior benefit receipt once a person returns to work.
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    Shortening self-report mental health symptom measures through optimal test assembly methods: Development and validation of the Patient Health Questionnaire-Depression-4
    Ishihara, M ; Harel, D ; Levis, B ; Levis, AW ; Riehm, KE ; Saadat, N ; Azar, M ; Rice, DB ; Sanchez, TA ; Chiovitti, MJ ; Cuijpers, P ; Gilbody, S ; Ioannidis, JPA ; Kloda, LA ; McMillan, D ; Patten, SB ; Shrier, I ; Arroll, B ; Bombardier, CH ; Butterworth, P ; Carter, G ; Clover, K ; Conwell, Y ; Goodyear-Smith, F ; Greeno, CG ; Hambridge, J ; Harrison, PA ; Hudson, M ; Jetté, N ; Kiely, KM ; McGuire, A ; Pence, BW ; Rooney, AG ; Sidebottom, A ; Simning, A ; Turner, A ; White, J ; Whooley, MA ; Winkley, K ; Benedetti, A ; Thombs, BD (Wiley, 2019-01-01)
    Background: The objective of this study was to develop and validate a short form of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a self-report questionnaire for assessing depressive symptomatology, using objective criteria. Methods: Responses on the PHQ-9 were obtained from 7,850 English-speaking participants enrolled in 20 primary diagnostic test accuracy studies. PHQ unidimensionality was verified using confirmatory factor analysis, and an item response theory model was fit. Optimal test assembly (OTA) methods identified a maximally precise short form for each possible length between one and eight items, including and excluding the ninth item. The final short form was selected based on prespecified validity, reliability, and diagnostic accuracy criteria. Results: A four-item short form of the PHQ (PHQ-Dep-4) was selected. The PHQ-Dep-4 had a Cronbach's alpha of 0.805. Sensitivity and specificity of the PHQ-Dep-4 were 0.788 and 0.837, respectively, and were statistically equivalent to the PHQ-9 (sensitivity = 0.761, specificity = 0.866). The correlation of total scores with the full PHQ-9 was high (r = 0.919). Conclusion: The PHQ-Dep-4 is a valid short form with minimal loss of information of scores when compared to the full-length PHQ-9. Although OTA methods have been used to shorten patient-reported outcome measures based on objective, prespecified criteria, further studies are required to validate this general procedure for broader use in health research. Furthermore, due to unexamined heterogeneity, there is a need to replicate the results of this study in different patient populations.
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    Amphetamine use in the fourth decade of life: Social profiles from a population-based Australian cohort
    Butterworth, P ; Becker, D ; Degenhardt, L ; Hall, WD ; Patton, GC (WILEY, 2018-09-01)
    INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: To estimate the prevalence and frequency of amphetamine use in a cohort of Australians aged in their mid-30s. DESIGN AND METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of wave 10 data collected in 2014 from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study: a sample of 1435 persons originally selected in a stratified, random community survey of secondary school students from the state of Victoria that commenced in 1992. Weighted multinomial regression models were used to evaluate the social, health and other substance-use correlates of lifetime and current (12-month) amphetamine use and current frequency of use. RESULTS: Lifetime amphetamine use was reported by 23.2% (95% confidence interval 21.0-25.5%) of respondents, and 6.5% (95% confidence interval 5.2-7.8%) reported current (12-month) use. A quarter (26%) of those currently using amphetamines, 1.7% (95% confidence interval 1.0-2.4%) of all respondents, reported frequent (at least weekly) use. Men reported greater amphetamine use than women. Current amphetamine use was associated with disrupted family circumstances, socioeconomic adversity, polydrug use and high levels of drug use within the social and familial environment. Frequent use was associated with greater likelihood of multiple adversity, unemployment, anxiety disorders and use of mental health services. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The current results show that lifetime, current and frequent amphetamine use was common amongst adults in the fourth decade of life in this cohort, and associated with the experience of social disadvantage, poor mental health and living in a social context in which drug use is the norm.
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    Personal factors influence use of cervical cancer screening services: epidemiological survey and linked administrative data address the limitations of previous research
    Olesen, SC ; Butterworth, P ; Jacomb, P ; Tait, RJ (BMC, 2012-02-14)
    BACKGROUND: National screening programs have reduced cervical cancer mortality; however participation in these programs varies according to women's personal and social characteristics. Research into these inequalities has been limited by reliance on self-reported service use data that is potentially biased, or administrative data that lacks personal detail. We address these limitations and extend existing research by examining rates and correlates of cervical screening in a large epidemiological survey with linked administrative data. METHODS: The cross-sectional sample included 1685 women aged 44-48 and 64-68 years from the Australian Capital Territory and Queanbeyan, Australia. Relative risk was assessed by logistic regression models and summary Population Attributable Risk (PAR) was used to quantify the effect of inequalities on rates of cervical cancer screening. RESULTS: Overall, 60.5% of women participated in screening over the two-year period recommended by Australian guidelines. Screening participation was associated with having children, moderate or high use of health services, employment, reported lifetime history of drug use, and better physical functioning. Conversely, rates of cervical screening were lower amongst women who were older, reliant on welfare, obese, current smokers, reported childhood sexual abuse, and those with anxiety symptoms. A summary PAR showed that effective targeting of women with readily observable risk-factors (no children, no partner, receiving income support payments, not working, obese, current smoker, anxiety, poor physical health, and low overall health service use) could potentially reduce overall non-participation in screening by 74%. CONCLUSIONS: This study illustrates a valuable method for investigating the personal determinants of health service use by combining representative survey data with linked administrative records. Reliable knowledge about the characteristics that predict uptake of cervical cancer screening services will inform targeted health promotion efforts.
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    The limitations of employment as a tool for social inclusion
    Leach, LS ; Butterworth, P ; Strazdins, L ; Rodgers, B ; Broom, DH ; Olesen, SC (BMC, 2010-10-19)
    BACKGROUND: One important component of social inclusion is the improvement of well-being through encouraging participation in employment and work life. However, the ways that employment contributes to wellbeing are complex. This study investigates how poor health status might act as a barrier to gaining good quality work, and how good quality work is an important pre-requisite for positive health outcomes. METHODS: This study uses data from the PATH Through Life Project, analysing baseline and follow-up data on employment status, psychosocial job quality, and mental and physical health status from 4261 people in the Canberra and Queanbeyan region of south-eastern Australia. Longitudinal analyses conducted across the two time points investigated patterns of change in employment circumstances and associated changes in physical and mental health status. RESULTS: Those who were unemployed and those in poor quality jobs (characterised by insecurity, low marketability and job strain) were more likely to remain in these circumstances than to move to better working conditions. Poor quality jobs were associated with poorer physical and mental health status than better quality work, with the health of those in the poorest quality jobs comparable to that of the unemployed. For those who were unemployed at baseline, pre-existing health status predicted employment transition. Those respondents who moved from unemployment into poor quality work experienced an increase in depressive symptoms compared to those who moved into good quality work. CONCLUSIONS: This evidence underlines the difficulty of moving from unemployment into good quality work and highlights the need for social inclusion policies to consider people's pre-existing health conditions and promote job quality.
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    Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation
    Jacka, FN ; Cherbuin, N ; Anstey, KJ ; Sachdev, P ; Butterworth, P (BMC, 2015-09-08)
    BACKGROUND: Recent meta-analyses confirm a relationship between diet quality and both depression and cognitive health in adults. While the biological pathways that underpin these relationships are likely multitudinous, extensive evidence from animal studies points to the involvement of the hippocampus. The aim of this study was to examine the association between dietary patterns and hippocampal volume in humans, and to assess whether diet was associated with differential rates of hippocampal atrophy over time. METHODS: Data were drawn from the Personality and Total Health Through Life Study and focused on a subsample of the cohort (n = 255) who were aged 60-64 years at baseline in 2001, completed a food frequency questionnaire, and underwent two magnetic resonance imaging scans approximately 4 years apart. Longitudinal generalized estimating equation linear regression models were used to assess the association between dietary factors and left and right hippocampal volumes over time. RESULTS: Every one standard deviation increase in healthy "prudent" dietary pattern was associated with a 45.7 mm(3) (standard error 22.9 mm(3)) larger left hippocampal volume, while higher consumption of an unhealthy "Western" dietary pattern was (independently) associated with a 52.6 mm(3) (SE 26.6 mm(3)) smaller left hippocampal volume. These relationships were independent of covariates including age, gender, education, labour-force status, depressive symptoms and medication, physical activity, smoking, hypertension and diabetes. While hippocampal volume declined over time, there was no evidence that dietary patterns influenced this decline. No relationships were observed between dietary patterns and right hippocampal volume. CONCLUSIONS: Lower intakes of nutrient-dense foods and higher intakes of unhealthy foods are each independently associated with smaller left hippocampal volume. To our knowledge, this is the first human study to demonstrate associations between diet and hippocampal volume concordant with data previously observed in animal models.
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    COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium): An international consortium to identify risk and protective factors and biomarkers of cognitive ageing and dementia in diverse ethnic and sociocultural groups
    Sachdev, PS ; Lipnicki, DM ; Kochan, NA ; Crawford, JD ; Rockwood, K ; Xiao, S ; Li, J ; Li, X ; Brayne, C ; Matthews, FE ; Stephan, BCM ; Lipton, RB ; Katz, MJ ; Ritchie, K ; Carriere, I ; Ancelin, M-L ; Seshadri, S ; Au, R ; Beiser, AS ; Lam, LCW ; Wong, CHY ; Fung, AWT ; Kim, KW ; Han, JW ; Kim, TH ; Petersen, RC ; Roberts, RO ; Mielke, MM ; Ganguli, M ; Dodge, HH ; Hughes, T ; Anstey, KJ ; Cherbuin, N ; Butterworth, P ; Ng, TP ; Gao, Q ; Reppermund, S ; Brodaty, H ; Meguro, K ; Schupf, N ; Manly, J ; Stern, Y ; Lobo, A ; Lopez-Anton, R ; Santabarbara, J (BMC, 2013-11-06)
    BACKGROUND: A large number of longitudinal studies of population-based ageing cohorts are in progress internationally, but the insights from these studies into the risk and protective factors for cognitive ageing and conditions like mild cognitive impairment and dementia have been inconsistent. Some of the problems confounding this research can be reduced by harmonising and pooling data across studies. COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium) aims to harmonise data from international cohort studies of cognitive ageing, in order to better understand the determinants of cognitive ageing and neurocognitive disorders. METHODS/DESIGN: Longitudinal studies of cognitive ageing and dementia with at least 500 individuals aged 60 years or over are eligible and invited to be members of COSMIC. There are currently 17 member studies, from regions that include Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. A Research Steering Committee has been established, two meetings of study leaders held, and a website developed. The initial attempts at harmonising key variables like neuropsychological test scores are in progress. DISCUSSION: The challenges of international consortia like COSMIC include efficient communication among members, extended use of resources, and data harmonisation. Successful harmonisation will facilitate projects investigating rates of cognitive decline, risk and protective factors for mild cognitive impairment, and biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Extended implications of COSMIC could include standardised ways of collecting and reporting data, and a rich cognitive ageing database being made available to other researchers. COSMIC could potentially transform our understanding of the epidemiology of cognitive ageing, and have a world-wide impact on promoting successful ageing.
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    Longitudinal cohort study describing persistent frequent attenders in Australian primary healthcare
    Pymont, C ; Butterworth, P (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2015-01-01)
    OBJECTIVES: To describe patterns of frequent attendance in Australian primary care, and identify the prospective risk factors for persistent frequent attendance. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: This study draws on data from the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project, a representative community cohort study of residents from the Canberra region of Australia. Participants were assessed on 3 occasions over 8 years. The survey assessed respondents' experience of chronic physical conditions, self-reported health, symptoms of common mental disorders, personality, life events, sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported medication use. A balanced sample was used in analysis, comprising 1734 respondents with 3 waves of data. The survey data for each respondent were individually linked to their administrative health service use data which were used to generate an objective measure of general practitioner (GP) consultations in the 12 months surrounding their interview date. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Respondents in the (approximate) highest decile of attenders on number of GP consultations over a 12-month period at each time point were defined as frequent attenders (FAs). RESULTS: Baseline FAs (8.4%) were responsible for 33.4% of baseline consultations, while persistent FAs (3.6%) for 15.5% of all consultations over the 3 occasions. While there was considerable movement between FA status over time, consistency was greater than expected by chance alone. While there were many factors that differentiated non-FAs from FAs in general, persistent frequent attendance was specifically associated with gender, baseline reports of depression, self-reported physical conditions and disability, and medication use. CONCLUSIONS: The degree of persistence in GP consultations was limited. The findings of this study contribute to our understanding of the risk factors that predict subsequent persistent frequent attendance in primary care. However, further detailed investigation of longitudinal patterns of frequent attendance and consideration of time-varying determinants of frequent attendance is required.
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    Patterns of Welfare Attitudes in the Australian Population
    Schofield, TP ; Butterworth, P ; Bastian, B (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-11-10)
    The study of community attitudes toward welfare and welfare recipients is an area of increasing interest. This is not only because negative attitudes can lead to stigmatization and discrimination, but because of the relevance of social attitudes to policy decisions. We quantify the attitudes toward welfare in the Australian population using attitude data from a nationally representative survey (N = 3243). Although there was broad support for the social welfare system, negative attitudes are held toward those who receive welfare benefits. Using canonical correlation analysis we identify multivariate associations between welfare attitudes and respondent demographic characteristics. A primary attitudinal dimension of welfare positivity was found amongst those with higher levels of education, life instability, and personal exposure to the welfare system. Other patterns of negative welfare attitudes appeared to be motivated by beliefs that the respondent's personal circumstances indicate their deservingness. Moreover, a previously unidentified and unconsidered subset of respondents was identified. This group had positive attitudes toward receiving government benefits despite having no recent experience of welfare. They did, however, possess many of the characteristics that frequently lead to welfare receipt. These results provide insights into not only how attitudinal patterns segment across the population, but are of relevance to policy makers considering how to align welfare reform with community attitudes.
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    Incidence of self-reported brain injury and the relationship with substance abuse: findings from a longitudinal community survey
    Tait, RJ ; Anstey, KJ ; Butterworth, P (BMC, 2010-03-29)
    BACKGROUND: Traumatic or serious brain injury (BI) has persistent and well documented adverse outcomes, yet 'mild' or 'moderate' BI, which often does not result in hospital treatment, accounts for half the total days of disability attributed to BI. There are currently few data available from community samples on the incidence and correlates of these injuries. Therefore, the study aimed to assess the 1) incidence of self-reported mild (not requiring hospital admission) and moderate (admitted to hospital)) brain injury (BI), 2) causes of injury 3) physical health scores and 4) relationship between BI and problematic alcohol or marijuana use. METHODS: An Australian community sequential-cohort study (cohorts aged 20-24, 40-44 and 60-64 years at wave one) used a survey methodology to assess BI and substance use at baseline and four years later. RESULTS: Of the 7485 wave one participants, 89.7% were re-interviewed at wave two. There were 56 mild (230.8/100000 person-years) and 44 moderate BI (180.5/100000 person-years) reported between waves one and two. Males and those in the 20-24 year cohort had increased risk of BI. Sports injury was the most frequent cause of BI (40/100) with traffic accidents being a greater proportion of moderate (27%) than mild (7%) BI. Neither alcohol nor marijuana problems at wave one were predictors of BI. BI was not a predictor of developing substance use problems by wave two. CONCLUSIONS: BI were prevalent in this community sample, though the incidence declined with age. Factors associated with BI in community samples differ from those reported in clinical samples (e.g. typically traumatic brain injury with traffic accidents the predominate cause). Further, detailed evaluation of the health consequences of these injuries is warranted.