Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Method-Specific Suicide Mortality in the United States in the 21st Century
    Dhungel, B ; Shand, F ; Nguyen, P ; Wang, Y ; Fujita-Imazu, S ; Soe, JKM ; Xie, J ; Wang, X ; Li, J ; Gilmour, S (AMER COLL PHYSICIANS, 2024-01)
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    Elucidating the Visual Snow Spectrum: A Latent Class Analysis Study
    Thompson, AC ; Goodbourn, PT ; Forte, JD ; Trojano, L (HINDAWI LTD, 2024-01-19)
    OBJECTIVE: People with visual snow syndrome (VSS) experience a range of perceptual phenomena, in addition to visual snow (VS; flickering pinpricks of light throughout the visual field). We investigated the patterns of perceptual phenomena associated with VSS in a large sample of people without prior knowledge of VSS or its associated symptoms. Methods and Measures. Two thousand participants completed a screening questionnaire assessing the frequency and severity of perceptual phenomena associated with VSS. We used latent class analysis (LCA), a clustering technique which identifies qualitatively different subgroups within a given population, to investigate whether the presence (or absence) of VS impacted class structure. RESULTS: Of 1,846 participants included for analysis, 41.92% experienced VS some of the time, including 4.49% who had VSS without prior knowledge. The mean number of perceptual phenomena experienced was 2.03. Optimal four-class LCA solutions did not substantially differ whether VS was included in the model; instead, classes differed in the frequency and total number of symptoms experienced. Discussion. Our results suggest that the perceptual phenomena associated with VSS are likely to be common in the general population and do not necessarily indicate an underlying pathology. We also showed that visual snow itself does not explain the presence of other perceptual phenomena.
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    A deep learning quantification of patient specificity as a predictor of session attendance and treatment response to internet-enabled cognitive behavioural therapy for common mental health disorders.
    Hitchcock, C ; Funk, J ; Cummins, R ; Patel, SD ; Catarino, A ; Takano, K ; Dalgleish, T ; Ewbank, M (Elsevier BV, 2024-04-01)
    BACKGROUND: Increasing an individual's ability to focus on concrete, specific detail, thus reducing the tendency toward overly broad, decontextualised generalisations about the self and world, is a target within cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). However, empirical investigation of the impact of within-treatment specificity on treatment outcomes is scarce. We evaluated whether the specificity of patient dialogue predicted a) end-of-treatment symptoms and b) session completion for CBT for common mental health issues. METHODS: This preregistered (https://osf.io/agr4t) study trained a deep learning model to score the specificity of patient dialogue in transcripts from 353,614 internet-enabled CBT sessions for common mental health disorders, delivered on behalf of UK NHS services. Data were from obtained from 65,030 participants (n = 47,308 female, n = 241 unstated) aged 18-94 years (M = 34.69, SD = 12.35). Depressive disorders were the most common (39.1 %) primary diagnosis. Primary outcome was end-of-treatment score on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Secondary outcome was number of sessions attended. RESULTS: Linear mixed-effects models demonstrated that increased patient specificity significantly predicted lower post-treatment symptoms on the PHQ-9, although the size and direction of the effect varied depending on the type of therapeutic activity being completed. Effect sizes were consistently small. Higher patient specificity was associated with completing a greater number of sessions. LIMITATIONS: We are unable to infer causation from our data. CONCLUSIONS: Although effect sizes were small, an effect of specificity was observed across common mental health disorders. Further studies are needed to explore whether encouraging patient specificity during CBT may provide an enhancement of treatment attendance and treatment effects.
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    Exploring grandparents? receptivity to and preferences for a grandchild nutrition-focused intervention: A qualitative study
    Robinson, A ; Jongenelis, MI ; Morley, B ; Talati, Z (ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC, 2023-02)
    OBJECTIVE: Interventions promoting healthy eating in children typically overlook the critical role of grandparent caregivers. Utilising a co-design approach, this study (i) assessed the receptiveness of grandparents to a nutrition-focused resource aimed at promoting healthy eating in their grandchildren and (ii) explored grandparents' preferences for resource delivery and dissemination. METHODS: Seventy-nine grandparents (58% female; mean age=69.37 years) who were secondary carers to a grandchild aged 3-12 years participated in one of 10 focus groups. Focus group transcripts were imported into NVivo for coding and semantic thematic analysis. RESULTS: The vast majority of focus groups (n=9) were receptive to receiving a nutrition-focused resource. Participants indicated that such a resource should contain strategies that help grandparents promote healthy eating in their grandchildren rather than outline what grandchildren should be fed. A range of delivery (pamphlets, seminars and fridge magnets) and dissemination (online, email) methods were suggested. CONCLUSIONS: A nutrition resource that equips grandparents with the strategies they need to promote healthy eating in their grandchildren would likely be welcomed. IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH: Results provide program developers with the preliminary information required to tailor childhood lifestyle interventions to the needs of grandparents, thus helping increase acceptability and uptake.
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    Examination of bidirectional relationships between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns over 3 years: A longitudinal cohort study of Australian adolescents
    Trompeter, N ; Austen, E ; Bussey, K ; Reilly, EE ; Cunningham, ML ; Mond, J ; Lonergan, A ; Tame, J ; Mitchison, D (Wiley, 2023-03)
    OBJECTIVE: Adolescents commonly experience both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns. However, evidence concerning the prospective associations between these constructs during adolescence is limited. The current study examined the bidirectional relationships between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns over a 3-year period in adolescents. METHOD: Australian high school students (n = 2073; 55% girls) completed self-report measures at three timepoints, each 1 year apart. RESULTS: Findings showed a bidirectional relationship, whereby increases in fear of negative evaluation predicted exacerbated weight/shape concerns, and vice versa. Results point towards a vicious maintenance cycle between fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns. DISCUSSION: Findings from the current study highlight the importance of considering both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns in the development of health promotion and prevention programs designed to reduce the occurrence and adverse effects of body dissatisfaction or improve general mental health. PUBLIC SIGNIFICANCE: Many adolescents experience some level of fear of negative evaluation (i.e., worry about being judged by others) and worry about their weight and/or shape. This study examined the prospective relationship between both constructs. Findings showed a bidirectional relationship, whereby higher fear of negative evaluation predicted increased weight/shape concerns, and vice versa. Programs designed to reduce body dissatisfaction might be improved by targeting both fear of negative evaluation and weight/shape concerns.
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    Unlocking the secrets of secrets: How can we learn about experiences that cannot be recreated in the laboratory?
    Slepian, ML ; Kalokerinos, EK (Wiley, 2024-02)
    People keep secrets for years with significant ramifications if the information were ever revealed. How can we understand the effects of long-held secrets? The current paper presents a new perspective on secrecy and how it can be studied. By examining the multiple experiences people have with their multiple secrets, we can obtain a fuller view of how secrets affect people in daily life. Additionally, by examining a set of common secrets, across people, we can understand how secrets (i.e., exemplars) differ from one another, and we can study how those differences relate to important variables like well-being. That is, rather than study a specific secret or secrecy situation (which will have limited generalizability), we can seek to study the entire universe of secrets, both to make generalizations across that universe and to compare different secrets to one another. Using the question of whether secrecy causes lower well-being, we discuss this Multiple Exemplar Measurement approach alongside other methodologies. We highlight the many benefits of taking an exemplar-level perspective, both for understanding secrecy and other psychological phenomena more broadly.
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    Temporal stability of Bayesian belief updating in perceptual decision-making
    Goodwin, I ; Hester, R ; Garrido, MI (SPRINGER, 2023-12-21)
    Bayesian inference suggests that perception is inferred from a weighted integration of prior contextual beliefs with current sensory evidence (likelihood) about the world around us. The perceived precision or uncertainty associated with prior and likelihood information is used to guide perceptual decision-making, such that more weight is placed on the source of information with greater precision. This provides a framework for understanding a spectrum of clinical transdiagnostic symptoms associated with aberrant perception, as well as individual differences in the general population. While behavioral paradigms are commonly used to characterize individual differences in perception as a stable characteristic, measurement reliability in these behavioral tasks is rarely assessed. To remedy this gap, we empirically evaluate the reliability of a perceptual decision-making task that quantifies individual differences in Bayesian belief updating in terms of the relative precision weighting afforded to prior and likelihood information (i.e., sensory weight). We analyzed data from participants (n = 37) who performed this task twice. We found that the precision afforded to prior and likelihood information showed high internal consistency and good test-retest reliability (ICC = 0.73, 95% CI [0.53, 0.85]) when averaged across participants, as well as at the individual level using hierarchical modeling. Our results provide support for the assumption that Bayesian belief updating operates as a stable characteristic in perceptual decision-making. We discuss the utility and applicability of reliable perceptual decision-making paradigms as a measure of individual differences in the general population, as well as a diagnostic tool in psychiatric research.
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    13q32.1 as a candidate region for physiological anisocoria.
    Bosten, JM ; Lawrance-Owen, AJ ; Bargary, G ; Goodbourn, PT ; Mollon, JD (BMJ, 2023-11)
    BACKGROUND: Physiological anisocoria is an asymmetry of pupil size in the absence of pathology. METHODS: Images of the pupils under standard illumination were collected in the course of a whole-genome association study of a range of visual functions in 1060 healthy adults. DNA for each participant was extracted from saliva samples. RESULTS: We found no relationship between anisocoria and the difference in refraction between the eyes, nor between anisocoria and difference in acuity. There was a small but significant relationship with lightness of the iris, in that the eye with the smaller pupil was associated with the lighter iris. There was a strong association between anisocoria and a local region of chromosome 13 (13q32.1), a region lying between the genes GPR180 and SOX21. The strongest association was with the single-nucleotide polymorphism rs9524583. CONCLUSION: The very specific region associated with anisocoria is one where microdeletions (or microduplications) are known to lead to abnormal development of pupil dilator muscle and hence to the autosomal dominant condition of microcoria. It is possible that alterations at 13q32.1 act by altering the expression of SOX21, which encodes a nuclear transcription factor.
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    A Scoping Review of the Measurement of Depression in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment
    Major, G ; Bagnall, A-M ; Bhar, S ; Bryant, C ; Dow, B ; Dunt, D ; Fearn, M ; Harper, R ; Leung, W-Y ; Mnatzaganian, G ; O'Bree, B ; Doyle, C (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2023-08-08)
    OBJECTIVES: Depression and cognitive impairment are disabling conditions that commonly occur together in older adults. The interaction is challenging when choosing appropriate measurement scales. This review aimed to summarize the scales to measure depression symptoms in older people with cognitive impairment, investigating how cognitive impairment is related to the choice of measurement, and how the setting may affect the choice of measurement. METHODS: A scoping review of literature published between 2015 and 2021. RESULTS: After screening 1580 articles, 26 were included in the review with 11 different measures of depression symptoms identified. The measures mostly commonly used were the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI-Q). Most studies did not report on the usability of depression scales used with people with cognitive impairment and only two scales (CSDD and NPI-Q, not GDS) have been validated for use with this population. CONCLUSIONS: Severe cognitive impairment was under-represented in the identified studies, and no association was detected between study setting, cognitive impairment and type of measure used. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Clinicians and researchers should consider both the cognitive status of participants and the setting they live in when choosing a measure of depression symptoms.
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    Is conservative opposition to climate change threat-based? Articulating an integrated threat model of climate change attitudes
    Stanley, SK ; Jylha, KM ; Leviston, Z ; Walker, I (WILEY, 2023-12-15)
    Throughout the literature, there are assertions that those endorsing conservative ideologies reject the science and solutions of climate change due to perceived threat. That is, they fear that accepting climate change means accepting problems with a favoured socioeconomic system and supporting action on climate change threatens to disrupt these systems. We draw together lines of research and reasoning on this topic to outline three key predictions this perspective makes about the drivers of conservative denial of climate change and opposition to climate policy. The first is that an asymmetry exists in climate-related threat perceptions, whereby greater endorsement of conservative ideology predicts lower perceived threat from climate change and greater perceived threat from climate reform. Second, climate-related threat perceptions are multifaceted, such that threats to economic and cultural well-being can be experienced, at personal or collective levels. Third, the asymmetry in threat perceptions explains conservatives' lower support for pro-climate reforms. We then specify a new integrated threat model of climate change attitudes, review the current evidence for and against each prediction in this model and outline ways to interrogate these theoretical predictions with empirical research. Doing so will advance understanding of the underpinnings of ideological disagreement on climate change.