School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications
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Evaluation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid Program
OBJECTIVE: This study reports findings from an uncontrolled evaluation of a course designed to educate participants in how to recognise and respond to mental health problems until professional help is received. METHODS: Utilising a mixed methods design, participants in 21 different courses, delivered across two Australian states, were invited to complete pre-, post-, and follow-up surveys and provide qualitative feedback on their training experiences. RESULTS: Participants reported feeling more confident in their capacity to respond appropriately to a person presenting with a mental health need and believed they would be more likely to provide assistance. Satisfaction was attributed to the skills and sensitivities of instructors who had lived experience of mental health concerns in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. CONCLUSION: This course holds promise in improving mental health literacy in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health. Implications for public health: Few courses are available that address issues relating to the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. This study illustrates how community engagement with primary health and specialist mental health services might be strengthened.
Strategic positioning: How policy research actors situate their intellectual labour to gain symbolic resources from multiple fields
(SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2020-01-23)
<jats:p> The process of knowledge production involves negotiating several social worlds, whereby actors engage in positioning and repositioning to situate their intellectual labour and gain symbolic resources. This article considers the strategic positioning of policy research actors using interview and document data. It sets out the ways in which individual and institutional actors negotiate and situate their intellectual practice in order to gain capital from a range of relevant fields. The article considers how organisations position themselves in relation to other institutions, and how individual researchers position themselves vis-a-vis their own organisations and others in the hybrid space between more established fields. It demonstrates how identities are constructed in a relational way via comparison and juxtaposition in the liminal space of international development. In doing so, it directs attention to the strategic practices involved in the production of meaningful intellectual interventions. </jats:p>
Classic serotonergic psychedelics for mood and depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis of mood disorder patients and healthy participants
RATIONALE: Major depressive disorder is one of the leading global causes of disability, for which the classic serotonergic psychedelics have recently reemerged as a potential therapeutic treatment option. OBJECTIVE: We present the first meta-analytic review evaluating the clinical effects of classic serotonergic psychedelics vs placebo for mood state and symptoms of depression in both healthy and clinical populations (separately). RESULTS: Our search revealed 12 eligible studies (n = 257; 124 healthy participants, and 133 patients with mood disorders), with data from randomized controlled trials involving psilocybin (n = 8), lysergic acid diethylamide ([LSD]; n = 3), and ayahuasca (n = 1). The meta-analyses of acute mood outcomes (3 h to 1 day after treatment) for healthy volunteers and patients revealed improvements with moderate significant effect sizes in favor of psychedelics, as well as for the longer-term (16 to 60 days after treatments) mood state of patients. For patients with mood disorder, significant effect sizes were detected on the acute, medium (2-7 days after treatment), and longer-term outcomes favoring psychedelics on the reduction of depressive symptoms. CONCLUSION: Despite the concerns over unblinding and expectancy, the strength of the effect sizes, fast onset, and enduring therapeutic effects of these psychotherapeutic agents encourage further double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing them for management of negative mood and depressive symptoms.
The impact of worksite interventions promoting healthier food and/or physical activity habits among employees working 'around the clock' hours: a systematic review.
(SNF Swedish Nutrition Foundation, 2018)
We conducted a systematic review of randomised studies on the impact of worksite interventions to promote healthier food and/or physical activity among people who work irregular hours 'around the clock', that is, outside of ordinary daytime working hours. The population-intervention-comparator-outcomes-study (PICOS) design format was used. Data sources were PubMed and CINAHL. An updated search was conducted on October 2017 using Google Scholar and the related articles function in PubMed on initially included studies to identify additional studies. Risk of bias was used to assess study quality. A total of seven studies (reports published in 14 papers) were included in the systematic review: Two interventions with a broader lifestyle approach, three focusing on physical exercise and two on providing healthier food or meal options. The studies had sample sizes from 30 to 1,000 and targeted a mixture of occupations, including both male- and female-dominated occupational groups. The interventions lasted from 2 to 12 months. Only one had an extended follow-up. In general, the studies showed small-to-moderate effect sizes on several measures, including dietary and/or physical activity measures, suggesting acceptable effectiveness for interventions involving community-level behaviour change. Our findings highlight a need to further develop and implement well-designed health promotion interventions with comparable outcome measures and effect size reports. A mixture of health promotion strategies is recommended for future practice in this target population, including individually tailored programmes, improving the food and physical activity environment and using broader lifestyle approaches including the use of participatory and empowerment strategies. While more research is needed in this field, the existing knowledge base on effective approaches awaits translation into practice.
‘Stood to rest’: reorientating necrogeographies for the 21st century
(Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2021)
Human bodies are typically buried underground, horizontally ‘in repose’. To the extent that this orientation has become the standard; it is a non-choice that is under-interrogated by scholars. In this paper, we discuss innovations which allow for the vertical orientation of the body within the earth and for the vertical stacking of remains above the earth in high-rise structures. Both of these boundary-pushing forms of disposition address imminent shortages in the land allocated for cemeteries in the context of intense urbanisation and a peaking death rate. They also promise to transform the necrogeography of contemporary cities and intimate relations between the living and the dead. This paper is a collaboration between the DeathTech Research Team and the Managing Director of Upright Burials, where the dead are ‘stood to rest’ in shaft graves. The pragmatic advantages of vertical burial are easily explicated, but in this paper, we focus on the cultural and symbolic dimensions of this largely unfamiliar spatial relation and the challenges of ‘reorienting’ the public towards this new form of disposition.
Postcolonial penality: Liberty and repression in the shadow of independence, India c. 1947.
(SAGE Publications, 2017-05)
This article reports primary archival data on the colonial penal history of British India and its reconfiguration into the postcolonial Indian state. It introduces criminologists to frameworks through which postcolonial scholars have sought to make sense of the continuities and discontinuities of rule across the colonial/postcolonial divide. The article examines the postcolonial life of one example of colonial penal power, known as the criminal tribes policy, under which more than three million Indian subjects of British rule were restricted in their movements, subject to a host of administrative rules and sometimes severe punishments, sequestered in settlements and limited in access to legal redress. It illustrates how at the birth of the postcolonial Indian state, encompassing visions of a liberal, unfettered and free life guaranteed in a new Constitution and charter of Fundamental Rights, freedom for some was to prove as elusive as citizens as it had been as subjects.
Sex, desire and pleasure: considering the experiences of older Australian women.
(Taylor & Francis, 2015)
Older age is often associated with asexuality. That is, older individuals are not viewed as desiring of sex, nor as sexually desirable to others. Broader social and cultural norms that downplay women's sexual desire and agency further compound these phenomena. Whether this popular image accurately reflects older women's sexual desires, behaviour and capacity to experience pleasure is unclear. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 43 partnered Australian women aged 55–81, this article considers women's sexual experiences and desires in older age. The findings of our research confirm that older women's experiences of sex and sexual desire are diverse and fluid. Some of the factors that influenced participants’ sexual behaviour and desire will be considered in this article, as will their understandings of what “counts” as sexual satisfaction and “successful sex”. The factors affecting sexual behaviour and desire also influence the way in which women are able to negotiate sexual interaction with their partners. Participants expressed a need for education and resources in order to gain greater control and to make autonomous choices over their sexual experiences, desire and ability to give and receive pleasure. The implications of these findings for practitioners are also considered.
Ambivalent Sexism and Religion: Connected Through Values
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2014-05)
Sexist attitudes do not exist in a limbo; they are embedded in larger belief systems associated with specific hierarchies of values. In particular, manifestations of benevolent sexism (Glick and Fiske 1996, 1997, 2001) can be perceived as a social boon, not a social ill, both because they are experienced as positive, and because they reward behaviors that maintain social stability. One of the strongest social institutions that create and justify specific hierarchies of values is religion. In this paper, we examine how the values inherent in religious beliefs (perhaps inadvertently) propagate an unequal status quo between men and women through endorsement of ideologies linked to benevolent sexism. In a survey with a convenience sample of train passengers in Southern and Eastern Poland (N = 180), we investigated the relationship between Catholic religiosity and sexist attitudes. In line with previous findings (Gaunt 2012; Glick et al. 2002a; Taşdemir and Sakallı-Uğurlu 2010), results suggest that religiosity can be linked to endorsement of benevolent sexism. This relationship was mediated in our study by the values of conservatism and openness to change (Schwartz 1992): religious individuals appear to value the societal status quo, tradition, and conformity, which leads them to perceive women through the lens of traditional social roles. Adhering to the teachings of a religion that promotes family values in general seems to have as its byproduct an espousal of prejudicial attitudes toward specific members of the family.
Influence of context and setting on the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of ayahuasca drinkers: results of a large international survey
(Frontiers Media, 2021)
Ayahuasca is a traditional plant decoction containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and various β-carbolines including harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine, which has been used ceremonially by Amazonian Indigenous groups for healing and spiritual purposes. Use of the brew has now spread far beyond its original context of consumption to North America, Europe and Australia in neo-shamanic settings as well as Christian syncretic churches. While these groups have established their own rituals and protocols to guide use, it remains unknown the extent to which the use of traditional or non-traditional practices may affect drinkers’ acute experiences, and longer term wellbeing and mental health outcomes. Hence, this study aimed to provide the first detailed assessment of associations between ceremony/ritual characteristics, additional support practices, and motivations for drinking, and mental health and wellbeing outcomes. The paper uses data from a large cross-sectional study of ayahuasca drinkers in more than 40 countries who had used ayahuasca in various contexts (n=6,877). It captured detailed information about participant demographics, patterns and history of ayahuasca drinking, the setting of consumption, and ritualistic practices employed. Current mental health status was captured via the Kessler 10 psychological distress scale and the mental health component score of the SF-12 Health Questionnaire, while reported change in prior clinically diagnosed anxiety or depression (n=1276) was evaluated using a (PGIC) Patient Global Impression of Change tool. Various intermediate outcomes were also assessed including perceived change in psychological wellbeing, number of personal self-insights attained, and subjective spiritual experience measured via the spirituality dimension of the Persisting Effects Questionnaire (PEQ) and Short Index of Mystical Orientation. Regression models identified a range of significant associations between set and setting variables, and intermediate and final mental health and wellbeing outcomes. A generalized structural equation model (GSEM) was then used to verify relationships and associations between endogenous, mediating and final outcome variables concurrently. The present study sheds new light on the influence of ceremonial practices, additional supports and motivations on the therapeutic effects of ayahuasca for mental health and wellbeing, and ways in which such factors can be optimized in naturalistic settings and clinical studies.