Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Hidden in Plain Sight? Men's Coping Patterns and Psychological Distress Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Livingston, JD ; Youssef, GJ ; Francis, LM ; Greenwood, CJ ; Olsson, CA ; Macdonald, JA (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2022-01-05)
    Individuals cope with stress using multiple strategies, yet studies of coping profiles are rare. We draw data from a longitudinal study of Australian men (n = 272; 30-37 years), assessed before (T1) and during (T2) a nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown. We aimed to: (1) identify men's multi-strategy coping profiles before and during the pandemic; (2) assess cross-sectional (T1-T1, T2-T2) and prospective (T1-T2) associations between profiles and symptoms of psychological distress (stress, anxiety, depression, and anger); and (3) examine relationships between coping profiles and appraisals of pandemic-related stressors and options for coping. In latent profile analyses of 14 coping strategies, three profiles emerged that were largely consistent across T1 and T2: (1) Relaxed Copers (low use of all strategies), (2) Approach Copers, and (3) Dual Copers (high avoidant and moderate-high approach-oriented strategies). Compared to Relaxed and Approach Copers, men who were Dual Copers had elevated psychological distress cross-sectionally before (T1) and during (T2) the pandemic, but not prospectively. Post hoc analyses suggested this was because many men changed coping profiles in the context of the pandemic. Men with stable (T1-T2) or new (T2 only) Dual Coping profiles experienced greater psychological distress and more negative appraisals of pandemic stressors and options for coping. In sum, at the sample level, the composition of men's coping profiles and associations with mental health risk were relatively stable over time and contexts; however, many men appeared to respond to pandemic conditions by changing coping profile groups, with mostly positive mental health outcomes. Of concern were men who adopted more avoidant strategies (e.g., denial, self-distraction, disengagement, substance use, and self-blame) under pandemic conditions. These Dual Coper men also engaged in commonly observable approach-oriented behaviours (e.g., planning, active coping, humour, seeking practical social support) that may mask their vulnerability to mental health risk. Our findings highlight the clinical importance of enquiring about escalating or frequent avoidant coping even in the presence of more active and interactive approach-oriented behaviours.
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    Child and Parent Physical Activity, Sleep, and Screen Time During COVID-19 and Associations With Mental Health: Implications for Future Psycho-Cardiological Disease?
    Olive, LS ; Sciberras, E ; Berkowitz, TS ; Hoare, E ; Telford, RM ; O'Neil, A ; Mikocka-Walus, A ; Evans, S ; Hutchinson, D ; McGillivray, JA ; Berk, M ; Teague, SJ ; Wood, AG ; Olsson, C ; Westrupp, EM (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2022-02-10)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has afforded the opportunity for some to improve lifestyle behaviours, while for others it has presented key challenges. Adverse changes in global lifestyle behaviours, including physical activity, sleep, and screen time can affect proximal mental health and in turn distal cardiovascular outcomes. We investigated differences in physical activity, sleep, and screen time in parents and children during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia compared to pre-COVID-19 national data; and estimated associations between these movement behaviours with parent and child mental health. Cross-sectional baseline data from the COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Study (CPAS; N = 2,365) were compared to nationally representative pre-pandemic data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC; N = 9,438). Participants were parents of children aged ≤ 18 years, residing in Australia. Parents provided self-report measures of mental health, physical activity and sleep quality, and reported on child mental health, physical activity and screen time. Children in CPAS had significantly more sleep problems and more weekend screen time. Their parents had significantly poorer sleep quality, despite increased weekly physical activity. Children's sleep problems were significantly associated with increased mental health problems, after accounting for socioeconomic status, physical activity, and screen time. Poorer parent sleep quality and lower levels of physical activity were significantly associated with poorer mental health. Monitoring this cohort over time will be important to examine whether changes in movement behaviour are enduring or naturally improve with the easing of restrictions; and whether these changes have lasting effects on either parent or child mental health, and in turn, future risk for CVD.
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    Inequalities in the distribution of COVID-19-related financial difficulties for Australian families with young children
    O'Connor, M ; Greenwood, CJ ; Letcher, P ; Giallo, R ; Priest, N ; Goldfeld, S ; Hope, S ; Edwards, B ; Olsson, CA (WILEY, 2022-04-13)
    BACKGROUND: We examine (1) the frequency of financial difficulties in Australian families with young children (0-8 years) in the early and later phases of the pandemic; (2) the extent to which parents' pre-pandemic socio-economic disadvantage (SED) predicted financial difficulties; and (3) whether grandparent intergenerational SED further amplified this risk. METHOD: Data: Australian Temperament Project (ATP; established 1983, N = 2443) and ATP Generation 3 study (ATPG3; established 2012; N = 702), of which 74% (N = 553) completed a COVID-specific module in the early (May-September 2020) and/or later (October-December 2021) phases of the pandemic. OUTCOMES: Parent-reported loss of employment/reduced income, difficulty paying for essentials, and financial strain. EXPOSURES: Pre-pandemic parent and grandparent education and occupation. ANALYSIS: Logistic regressions, estimated via generalized estimating equations, were used to examine associations between the pre-pandemic SED of parents and grandparents and their interaction with financial difficulties, adjusting for potential confounders. RESULTS: At both pandemic time points, a third of parents reported adverse financial impacts (early: 34%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 30-38; later: 32%, 95% CI = 28-36). Each standard deviation increase in the parents' pre-pandemic SED was associated with a 36% increase in the odds of reporting multiple financial difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.04-1.78). There was little evidence of an interaction between the SED of parents and grandparents. CONCLUSIONS: Financial impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic were common and, irrespective of grandparent SED, disproportionately borne by parents with higher pre-pandemic SED. Given the well-established relationship between disadvantage and child health and development, sustained and well-targeted government supports will be critical to minimizing adverse impacts in years to come.
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    Sometimes It's Good to be Short: The Serotonin Transporter Gene, Positive Parenting, and Adolescent Depression
    Little, K ; Olsson, CA ; Whittle, S ; Macdonald, JA ; Sheeber, LB ; Youssef, GJ ; Simmons, JG ; Sanson, AV ; Foley, DL ; Allen, NB (WILEY, 2019-07-01)
    In threatening environments, the short (S) allele of 5-HTTLPR is proposed to augment risk for depression. However, it is unknown whether 5-HTTLPR variation increases risk for depression in environments of deprivation, lacking positive or nurturant features. Two independent longitudinal studies (n = 681 and 176, respectively) examined whether 5-HTTLPR moderated associations between low levels of positive parenting at 11-13 years and subsequent depression at 17-19 years. In both studies only LL homozygous adolescents were at greater risk for depression with decreasing levels of positive parenting. Thus, while the S allele has previously been identified as a susceptible genotype, these findings suggest that the L allele may also confer sensitivity to depression in the face of specific environmental challenges.
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    Natural history of mental health competence from childhood to adolescence
    O'Connor, M ; Arnup, SJ ; Mensah, F ; Olsson, C ; Goldfeld, S ; Viner, RM ; Hope, S (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2021-08-16)
    BACKGROUND: Mental health competence (MHC) involves psychosocial capabilities such as regulating emotions, interacting well with peers and caring for others, and predicts a range of health and social outcomes. This study examines the course of MHC from childhood to adolescence and patterning by gender and disadvantage, in Australian and UK contexts. METHODS: Data: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n=4983) and the Millennium Cohort Study (n=18 296). Measures: A measure capturing key aspects of MHC was derived summing items from the parent-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, assessed at 4-5 years, 6-7 years, 10-11 years and 14-15 years. Analysis: Proportions of children with high MHC (scores ≥23 of range 8-24) were estimated by age and country. Random-effects models were used to define MHC trajectories according to baseline MHC and change over time. Sociodemographic patterns were described. RESULTS: The prevalence of high MHC steadily increased from 4 years to 15 years (from 13.6% to 15.8% and 20.6% to 26.2% in Australia and the UK, respectively). Examination of trajectories revealed that pathways of some children diverge from this normative MHC progression. For example, 7% and 9% of children in Australia and the UK, respectively, had a low starting point and decreased further in MHC by mid-adolescence. At all ages, and over time, MHC was lower for boys compared with girls and for children from disadvantaged compared with advantaged family backgrounds. CONCLUSIONS: Approaches to promoting MHC require a sustained focus from the early years through to adolescence, with more intensive approaches likely needed to support disadvantaged groups and boys.
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    Cohort profile: the Men and Parenting Pathways (MAPP) Study: a longitudinal Australian cohort study of men's mental health and well-being at the normative age for first-time fatherhood
    Macdonald, JA ; Francis, LM ; Skouteris, H ; Youssef, GJ ; Graeme, LG ; Williams, J ; Fletcher, RJ ; Knight, T ; Milgrom, J ; Di Manno, L ; Olsson, CA ; Greenwood, CJ (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2021-01-01)
    PURPOSE: The Men and Parenting Pathways (MAPP) Study is a prospective investigation of men's mental health and well-being across the normative age for transitioning to fatherhood. This includes trajectories and outcomes for men who do and do not become fathers across five annual waves of the study. PARTICIPANTS: Australian resident, English-speaking men aged 28-32 years at baseline were eligible. Recruitment was over a 2-year period (2015-2017) via social and traditional media and through engagement with study partners. Eight hundred and eighteen eligible men consented to participate. Of these, 664 men completed the first online survey of whom 608 consented to ongoing participation. Of the ongoing sample, 83% have participated in at least two of the first three annual online surveys. FINDINGS TO DATE: Three waves of data collection are complete. The first longitudinal analysis of MAPP data, published in 2020, identified five profiles that characterise men's patterns of depressive symptom severity and presentations of anger. Profiles indicating pronounced anger and depressive symptoms were associated with fathers' lack of perceived social support, and problems with coparenting and bonding with infants. In a second study, MAPP data were combined with three other Australian cohorts in a meta-analysis of associations between fathers' self-reported sleep problems up to 3 years postpartum and symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Adjusted meta-analytic associations between paternal sleep and mental health risk ranged from 0.25 to 0.37. FUTURE PLANS: MAPP is an ongoing cohort study. Waves 4 and 5 data will be ready for analyses at the end of 2021. Future investigations will include crossed-lagged and trajectory analyses that assess inter-relatedness and changing social networks, mental health, work and family life. A nested study of COVID-19 pandemic-related mental health and coping will add two further waves of data collection in a subsample of MAPP participants.
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    The role of antenatal and postnatal maternal bonding in infant development: A systematic review and meta-analysis
    Le Bas, GA ; Youssef, GJ ; Macdonald, JA ; Rossen, L ; Teague, SJ ; Kothe, EJ ; McIntosh, JE ; Olsson, CA ; Hutchinson, DM (WILEY, 2019-08-14)
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    Does adolescent heavier alcohol use predict young adult aggression and delinquency? Parallel analyses from four Australasian cohort studies
    Najman, JM ; Plotnikova, M ; Horwood, J ; Silins, E ; Fergusson, D ; Patton, GC ; Olsson, C ; Hutchinson, DM ; Degenhardt, L ; Tait, R ; Youssef, GJ ; Borschmann, R ; Coffey, C ; Toumbourou, JW ; Mattick, RP (WILEY, 2019-07-01)
    While the association between heavy alcohol consumption and aggression has been well documented, the causal direction of this association, particularly at a population level, is disputed. A number of causal sequences have been proposed. First, that aggression leads to heavy alcohol use. Second, that heavy alcohol use leads to aggression. Third, that the association between alcohol use and aggression is due to confounding by (a) sociodemographic variables or (b) delinquency. We report here data from four Australasian prospective longitudinal studies of adolescents, to assess the temporal sequence of heavy drinking and aggression over the period from adolescence to young adulthood. The four cohort studies provide a total sample of 6,706 persons (Australian Temperament Project, n = 1701; Christchurch Health and Development Study, n = 931; Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy, n = 2437; Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, n = 1637). We use multinomial logistic regression to determine whether early adolescent aggression predicts subsequent age of onset of heavy episodic drinking (HED), after adjustment for concurrent sociodemographic factors and delinquency. We then consider whether HED predicts subsequent aggression, after adjusting for past aggression, concurrent delinquency, and a range of confounders. There are broadly consistent findings across the four cohort studies. Early aggression strongly predicts subsequent HED. HED predicts later aggression after adjustment for prior aggression and other confounders. Policies that alter population levels of alcohol consumption are likely to impact on levels of aggression in societies where HED linked to aggression is more common.
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    Mother-Infant and Partner-Infant Emotional Availability at 12 Months of Age: Findings From an Australian Longitudinal Study
    Rossen, L ; Mattick, RP ; Wilson, J ; Burns, L ; Macdonald, JA ; Olsson, C ; Allsop, S ; Elliott, EJ ; Jacobs, S ; McCormack, C ; Hutchinson, D (WILEY, 2018-11-01)