Reference List for Social Comparison in Physical Activity Apps (Arigo et al., 2018; UConn mHealth Conference)

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Arigo, D., Pasko, K., Plantier, N., & Montalbano, M. (2018, May.) Social Comparison Opportunities in Mobile Apps for Increasing Physical Activity: A Systematic Review. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media, Storrs, CT.

1. Yang, C. H., Maher, J. P., & Conroy, D. E. (2015). Implementation of behavior change techniques in mobile applications for physical activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48, 452-455.

2. Elaheebocus, S. M. R. A., Weal, M., Morrison, L., & Yardley, L. (2018). Peer-based social media features in behavior change interventions: systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20 (open access).

3. Arigo, D., Suls, J., & Smyth, J.M. (2014). Social comparisons and chronic illness: Literature synthesis and clinical implications. Health Psychology Review, 8, 154-214.

4. Gerber, J. P., Wheeler, L., & Suls, J. (2018). A social comparison theory meta-analysis 60+ years on. Psychological Bulletin, 144 (online first).

5. Anderson, I., Maitland, J., Sherwood, S., Barkhuus, L., Chalmers, M., Hall, M., . . . Muller, H. (2007). Shakra: Tracking and sharing daily activity levels with unaugmented mobile
phones. Mobile Networks and Applications, 12, 185-199.

6.  Cafazzo, J. A., Casselman, M., Hamming, N., Katzman, D. K., & Palmert, M. R. (2012).
Design of an mHealth app for the self-management of adolescent type 1 diabetes: A
pilot study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14 (open access)

7. Colón-Semenza, C., Latham, N. K., Quintiliani, L. M., & Ellis, T. D. (2018). Peer coaching
through mHealth targeting physical activity in people with Parkinson disease:
Feasibility Study. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 6 (open access).

8.  Consolvo, S., Everitt, K., Smith, I., & Landay, J. A. (2006). Design requirements for
technologies that encourage physical activity. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on
Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI 06, 457-466.

9. Edney, S., Plotnikoff, R., Vandelanotte, C., Olds, T., Bourdeaudhuij, I. D., Ryan, J., & Maher, C. (2017). “Active Team” a social and gamified app-based physical activity intervention: Randomised controlled trial study protocol. BMC Public Health, 17 (open access).

10. Fanning, J., Roberts, S., Hillman, C. H., Mullen, S. P., Ritterband, L., & McAuley, E. (2017). A smartphone “app”-delivered randomized factorial trial targeting physical activity in adults. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40, 712-729.

11. Glynn, L. G., Hayes, P. S., Casey, M., Glynn, F., Alvarez-Iglesias, A., Newell, J., . . . Murphy, A. W. (2013). SMART MOVE – a smartphone-based intervention to promote physical activity in primary care: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Trials, 14, 157-164.

12. Griffiths, F., Lindenmeyer, A., Powell, J., Lowe, P., & Thorogood, M. (2006). Why are health care interventions delivered over the internet? A systematic review of the published literature. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 8 (open access).

13.  Harries, T., Eslambolchilar, P., Rettie, R., Stride, C., Walton, S., & Woerden, H. C. (2016).
Effectiveness of a smartphone app in increasing physical activity amongst male adults: A
randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health,16 (open access).

14. Hebden, L., Cook, A., Ploeg, H. P., & Allman-Farinelli, M. (2012). Development of
smartphone applications for nutrition and physical activity behavior change. JMIR
Research Protocols, 1 (open access).

15.  Hurling, R., Catt, M., Boni, M. D., Fairley, B. W., Hurst, T., Murray, P., . . . Sodhi, J. S.
(2007). Using Internet and mobile phone technology to deliver an automated physical
activity program: randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet
Research, 9 (open access).

16. Kouliev, F., Durst, C., & Wickramasinghe, N. (2015). CarepariZn: Translating social
comparison elements into a mobile solution to support weight loss. Proceedings of the 48th Hawaii  International Conference on System Sciences, 3207-3216

17. Laranjo, L., Lau, A. Y., Martin, P., Tong, H. L., & Coiera, E. (2017). Use of a mobile social
networking intervention for weight management: A mixed-methods study protocol. BMJ
Open, 7 (open access).

18.  Muntaner-Mas, A., Vidal-Conti, J., Borras, P. A., Ortega, F. B., Palou, P. (2017). Effects of a Whatsapp-delivered physical activity intervention to enhance health-related physical fitness components and cardiovascular disease risk factors in older adults. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 57, 90-102.

19. Paul, L., Brewster, S., Wyke, S., McFadyen, A. K., Sattar, N., Gill, J. M., … & Gray, C. M. (2017). Increasing physical activity in older adults using STARFISH, an interactive smartphone application (app): A pilot study. Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering, 4 (open access).

20. Rovniak, L. S., Hovell, M. F., Wojcik, J. R., Winett, R. A., & Martinez-Donate, A. P. (2005).
Enhancing theoretical fidelity: An e-mail—based walking program demonstration.
American Journal of Health Promotion, 20, 85-95.

21. Tong, X., Gromala, D., Shaw, C. D., & Choo, A. (2016). A field study: Evaluating gamification approaches for promoting physical activity with motivational models of behavior changes. Proceedings of the 2016. International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

22. Toscos, T., Faber, A., Connelly, K., & Upoma, A. M. (2008). Encouraging physical activity
in teens: Can technology help reduce barriers to physical activity in adolescent girls?
Proceedings of the Second ICST International Conference on Pervasive Computing
Technologies for Healthcare.

23. Turner-Mcgrievy, G., & Tate, D. (2011). Tweets, apps, and pods: Results of the 6-month
mobile pounds off digitally (Mobile POD) randomized weight-loss intervention
among adults. Journal of Medical Internet Research,13 (open access).

24. U Ayubi, S. ., Parmanto, B., Branch, R., & Ding, D. (2014). A persuasive and social mHealth application for physical activity: A usability and feasibility study. JMIR MHealth and uHealth, 2 (open access).

25. van Dantzig, S., Geleijnse, G., & Halteren, A. T. (2012). Toward a persuasive mobile
application to reduce sedentary behavior. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing,17,
1237-1246.

26. Van den Berg, M. H., Ronday, H. K., Peeters, A. J., Cessie, S. L., Giesen, F. J., Breedveld, F. C., & Vlieland, T. P. (2006). Using internet technology to deliver a home-based physical
activity intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 55, 935-945.

27.  Harvey-Berino, J., Pintauro, S., Buzzell, P., Digiulio, M., Gold, B. C., Moldovan, C., &
Ramirez, E. (2002). Does using the Internet facilitate the maintenance of weight
loss? International Journal of Obesity, 26, 1254-1260.

28. Harvey-Berino, J., Pintauro, S. J., & Gold, E. C. (2002). The feasibility of using Internet
support for the maintenance of weight loss. Behavior Modification, 26, 103-116.

29. Mckay, H. G., King, D., Eakin, E. G., Seeley, J. R., & Glasgow, R. E. (2001). The diabetes
network Internet-based physical activity intervention: A randomized pilot study.
Diabetes Care, 24, 1328-1334.

30. Pyky, R., Koivumaa-Honkanen, H., Leinonen, A. M., Ahola, R., Hirvonen, N., Enwald, H., … & Mäntysaari, M. (2017). Effect of tailored, gamified, mobile physical activity intervention on life satisfaction and self-rated health in young adolescent men: a population-based, randomized controlled trial (MOPO study). Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 13-22.

31. Webb, T. L., Joseph, J., Yardley, L., & Michie, S. (2010). Using the Internet to promote
health behavior change: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of
theoretical basis, use of behavior change techniques, and mode of delivery on
Efficacy. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12 (open access).

32. Breton, E. R., Fuemmeler, B. F., & Abroms, L. C. (2011). Weight loss-there is an app for that! But does it adhere to evidence-informed practices? Translational Behavioral Medicine, 1, 523-529.

33. Cowan, L. T., Wagenen, S. A., Brown, B. A., Hedin, R. J., Seino-Stephan, Y., Hall, P. C., &
West, J. H. (2012). Apps of steel: Are exercise apps providing consumers with
realistic expectations? Health Education & Behavior, 40, 133-139.

34. Chou, W. Y. S., Prestin, A., Lyons, C., & Wen, K. Y. (2013). Web 2.0 for health promotion: Reviewing the current evidence. American Journal of Public Health, 103, e9-e18.

35. Lyzwinski, L. N. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of mobile devices and weight loss with an intervention content analysis. Journal of Personalized Medicine, 4, 311-385.

36. Direito, A., Dale, L. P., Shields, E., Dobson, R., Whittaker, R., & Maddison, R. (2014). Do physical activity and dietary smartphone applications incorporate evidence-based behaviour change techniques?. BMC Public Health, 14, 646 (open access).

37. Conroy, D. E., Yang, C. H., & Maher, J. P. (2014). Behavior change techniques in top-ranked mobile apps for physical activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46, 649-652.

38. Bort-Roig, J., Gilson, N. D., Puig-Ribera, A., Contreras, R. S., & Trost, S. G. (2014).
Measuring and influencing physical activity with smartphone technology: A
systematic review. Sports Medicine, 44, 671-686.

39. Middelweerd, A., Mollee, J. S., van der Wal, C. N., Brug, J., & Te Velde, S. J. (2014). Apps to promote physical activity among adults: a review and content analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11, 97 (open access).

40. Payne, H. E., Lister, C., West, J. H., & Bernhardt, J. M. (2015). Behavioral functionality of mobile apps in health interventions: a systematic review of the literature. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 3 (open access).

41. Dute, D. J., Bemelmans, W. J. E., & Breda, J. (2016). Using mobile apps to promote a healthy lifestyle among adolescents and students: a review of the theoretical basis and lessons learned. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 4, (open access)

42. Schoeppe, S., Alley, S., Rebar, A. L., Hayman, M., Bray, N. A., Van Lippevelde, W., … & Vandelanotte, C. (2017). Apps to improve diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents: a review of quality, features and behaviour change techniques. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14, 83 (open access).

43. Schoeppe, S., Alley, S., Van Lippevelde, W., Bray, N. A., Williams, S. L., Duncan, M. J., & Vandelanotte, C. (2016). Efficacy of interventions that use apps to improve diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour: a systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13, 127 (open access).

44. Arigo, D., Schumacher, L.M., Pinkasavage, E., & Butryn, M.L. (2015). Addressing barriers to physical activity among women: A feasibility study using social networking-enabled technology. Digital Health, 1, 1-12.

 

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UofSHealth Psych on the Road: Trainee Reflections on the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting (New Orleans, April 2018)

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Post by Kristen Pasko, B.S. (research coordinator) and Sabrina DiBisceglie (senior undergraduate student). This was their first opportunity to attend a professional conference. 

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Kristen

The 2018 Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) conference was a learning opportunity distinct from any of my prior professional development experiences. Specifically, I was able to disseminate my original findings, discover cutting-edge research in health psychology, connect with pioneers in the field of similar interest, and experience growth as a budding clinical psychologist.

As someone who is about to enter graduate school, SBM provided me KP SBM 2018 2with an opportunity to grow as an independent researcher. This experience was a chance to build my network of potential collaborators, train my eye to qualities of impactful posters and presentations, and gain a deeper understanding of topics of particular interest. One observation was how specific the research projects were, which got me thinking about how generalizable these findings are, beyond the particular context of each study. From these lines of consideration, I was able to make connections across findings and develop new research questions.

I also realized that I am now a member of this professional organization, in the same learning environment among fellow beginners, intermediate and advanced individuals alike. The continued educational aspect of this field excited me. Likewise, experiencing many collaborative efforts in action was helpful, as members of SBM include healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines besides psychology. These differences between fields provoked interactive conversation within almost every presentation to work across disciplines and perspectives for the common goal of creating research for the best healthcare outcomes.

Social Divides and Health Divides – Keynote: Sandro Galea
In a seamless narrative that led with data, this keynote addressed the connection between social and health disparities across the United States. The speaker demonstrated the extent to which life expectancy can range at the levels of country, state, and even county. For example, an individual could receive the same treatment in two different countries for a chronic illness and still have a large gap in life expectancy depending on where they reside. Furthermore, when we compare healthcare costs by country, the United States prioritizes treatment over prevention, as opposed to most other countries. Overall, the speaker acknowledged that health behaviors don’t exist in a vacuum and proposed getting social and economic forces into the healthcare conversation.

Acceptance-Based Approaches to Behavior Changes; Application to Weight Control and Physical Activity Interventions – Symposium: Jocelyn Remmert, Leah Schumacher, Courtney Stevens, Meghan Butryn
This symposium centered around the affective barriers before, during, and after engaging in physical activity. It was suggested that acceptance-based therapy (ACT) could mitigate barriers that stem from the associated uncomfortable feelings (fatigue, sweat) as many aspects of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are not subject to change. Taken together, these findings are intuitive as ACT and psychological flexibility go hand-in-hand and are associated with the greatest long-term outcomes for physical activity. Individuals could benefit from being flexible with guidelines for physical activity for a more tailored approach to their ability and goals.     

Sabrina

SD SBM 2018SBM was a stimulating experience that bolstered my interest in pursuing a career in the behavioral medicine field. Sandro Galea’s opening keynote provided an eye opening presentation on social divides and health divides. His enthusiasm and fascinating findings set the tone for the following days of the conference. As this was my first professional conference, this was a great learning experiences as to how conferences work as well as an experience to be exposed to thought provoking research.

Not only did I gain knowledge on interesting topics and research, I also gained professional knowledge in terms of sharing and presenting research. Attending poster sessions as well as paper sessions allowed me to observe different ways people shared knowledge. It was exciting as a beginner to be introduced to new information alongside experts in this field. My favorite portion of the conference was the poster sessions. These sessions allowed close and personalized interaction with investigators. I was amazed by the breadth of topics that were covered throughout these sessions.

This experience has allowed me to not only gain knowledge on topics new to me, but it has also allowed me to reflect on my individual research and to reevaluate as well as add components to support and further my research. I look forward to continuing my membership with SBM and to continue to use this society to further my research interests.

 

Meet @UofSHealthPsych: Interview with Marissa DeStefano

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Marissa DeStefano is a senior psychology major at The University of Scranton. She was interviewed by senior Katie Notarianni.

Marissa PicUofSHealthPsych: We’ll start easy. Where are you from?

MD: I’m from Martinsville, NJ. I went to Bridgewater Raritan High School.

UofSHealthPsych: What do you like most about The University of Scranton?

MD: I like the size of the campus. I love having small class sizes and walking around campus seeing friendly faces. I really feel a sense of community on campus. I also love the food! DeNaples food was one of my top reasons for choosing Scranton.

UofSHealthPsych: What activities are you involved in on campus, besides research?

MD: I am a teaching assistant for Dr. Arigo’s health psychology course (PSYC 228). I’m the vice president of APSSC (the Association for Psychological Science Student Caucus), and I’m the vice president of Psi Chi (the Psychology Honors Society). I also really enjoy going to yoga classes on campus and the gym.

UofSHealthPsych: What made you choose to study Psychology and what are you most passionate about in the field? What kind of research are you most interested in?

MD: I chose psychology because I have always been intrigued by the human mind. I wanted to learn more about how our minds work, and how I can help people with mental illness. I’m really passionate about understanding how psychological disorders develop, and what methods of treatment are available to help. I am also interested in the relationship between our mental and physical health and how they affect each other.

UofSHealthPsych: What is your favorite memory working in the Health Psychology Research Lab?

MD: I really enjoyed presenting at student scholar day last year. It was cool to see all our hard work pay off and to see the research that other students are doing. It was a good way to celebrate our accomplishments as a research team.

UofSHealthPsych: What are your plans after graduation?

MD: My plans are still uncertain! However, I plan to attend graduate school in the fall. I applied to doctoral and masters programs in clinical psychology and clinical mental health counseling. I am still waiting to hear back from a couple of schools and then I will make my decision. This summer I plan to work in a clinical setting, possibly in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center but I am still in the process of applying to jobs!

UofSHealthPsych: What advice would you give to underclassmen about being involved in Psychology and/or Research?

MD: If you are interested in gaining research experience don’t hesitate to ask! Think about what research you are interested in and see if your interests align with any of the professors in the department. I encourage you to visit different professors during office hours to chat about your research interests. Don’t give up if the first professor you ask already has a full research team, keep trying and always have a backup plan!

UofSHealthPsych on Campus: The University of Scranton’s Psychology Research Day and Women’s Health Research Panel

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Contributors: Zuhri Outland, Marissa DeStefano, Kristen Pasko, Sabrina DiBisceglie, Dr. Arigo

Our research team recently participated in two events at The University of Scranton. Here are our reflections on these experiences.

APSSC Student Research Day

Every year, the University of Scranton chapter of the Association for Psychological Science Student Caucus (APSSC) hosts a series of brief presentations to promote student research in the Department of Psychology. This is a student-run event that allows psychology research labs on campus to present their research interests and accomplishments to their peers. The event is a great opportunity for students who are interested in psychology research to see how their classmates are involved and to learn more about their professors’ research interests. It is also a good opportunity for professors to advertise their work and recruit new members for their teams.

At this year’s event (February 25th), students from several labs in the psychology department presented their research to an audience of 25 students. Labs represented were those of Dr. Hogan (psychological testing), Dr. Orr and Dr. Cannon (behavioral neuroscience), Dr. Kuhle (evolutionary psychology),  and Dr. Arigo (health psychology). Students Caitlin Gilby and Arielle Williams also presented their faculty-sponsored independent research projects. Students spoke for 5-10 minutes and used slides to illustrate their work.


At the event, several members of our health psychology research team presented on the lab’s focus and the work that we have been doing this year. We described health psychology as a field, our specific interest in social influences on health, our outreach efforts (like Healthier U Day), and our ongoing study Project CHASE (College Health And Research Team APSSC RD17Social Experiences). For Project CHASE, we described how each member has contributed to the study (scheduling appointments, sending reminder emails, conducting face-to-face interviews, and managing data). Kristen, Zuhri, and Marissa also shared their independent projects, which will include data from Project CHASE and other ongoing studies. Their topics include exercise motivation, relations between different types of social media and health behaviors, and perceptions of various body types. 

After the presentations there was time for interested students to talk to researchers about their experiences. Students were interested to know how we got involved in a research lab, and how we got the opportunity to form our own independent study. These students were invited to discuss their interest with faculty members or fill out applications to become research assistants. The event was a great opportunity to share all of the work do and learn about some of the work our friends and classmates have been doing.

Women’s Health Research: Panel Discussion and Fair

On the evening of March 2nd, professors at the University of Scranton participated in a panel discussion on their research on women’s health. This event, which was presented by the Women’s Studies Program and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, was intended to showcase the excellent women’s health research on our campus and begin an interdisciplinary dialogue about women’s health research. Participating faculty members came from a variety of backgrounds and each had a different perspective on women’s health. Backgrounds were in nutrition, exercise science, psychology, political science, and nursing.

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The panel: Drs. Trnka (moderator), Bachman, Grossman, Harris, Feeney, and Arigo

Dinner was provided and included an array of healthy options. The event opened with welcoming remarks from Cathy Mascelli, our Assistant Director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW), who spoke to the importance of examining gender differences in health outcomes. Each presenter then spoke for roughly 5-10 minutes on their research and interests in women’s health. Dr. Ann Feeney discussed her research on postpartum smoking cessation; Dr. Jessica Bachman described her findings related to postpartum weight loss interventions; Dr. Joan Grossman discussed weight gain and health risks during menopause, as well as weight loss interventions for this group; Dr. Arigo gave an overview of health psychology and our research on women’s body image, eating behavior, and physical activity; Dr. Jean Harris provided the broader context of what this research means for government policy (such as regulations on health care).

After these presentations, Dr. Jamie Trnka, the director of our Women’s Studies Program, opened the discussion to the audience for questions. She began with her own question about intersectionality and diversity, and questions from the audience focused on how best to handle issues of generalizability beyond the lab and doubt from the general public about the importance of women’s health research. It was interesting to see the

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Dr. Arigo, Kristen, Marissa, Zuhri, and Sabrina at the table fair

commonalities and differences among each panel member and how they approached each question from her own perspective. The last part of the event was a table fair, where attendees could interact with panelists and their students and ask more detailed questions. Zuhri, Marissa, Sabrina, and Kristen represented our lab at the table fair, and students from various majors approached us to ask about our work.

The key takeaways from this discussion were not only the importance of studying women’s health, but also the idea that everything that we do as a research team is connected to so many other perspectives and outcomes. That while the research we do is fun and interesting, it can also be the research that helps someone later or forms a government policy or is part of a treatment plan. The research isn’t just a solitary act – it can affect the lives of women at all ages. This event also demonstrated the importance of creating a conversation of women’s health. With this beginning, those who participated and/or attended the event may now have a greater appreciation for the current issues in women’s health and acknowledge that there is much more to learn. We look forward to future events like this to continue the discussion.

Interested in reading more about the panelists’ research? Visit their webpages (linked above) or look them up on Google Scholar!

Meet @UofSHealthPsych: Interview with Kristen Pasko

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Kristen Pasko is a senior psychology major at The University of Scranton. She was interviewed by Zuhri Outland, who recently graduated.

UofSHealthPsych: Where are you from?

RP: A little town called Skipback, PA. I like to compare it to Stars Hollow from Gilmore paskoGirls. It’s about 2 hours from here.

UofSHealthPsych: Why did you choose The University of Scranton?

RP: One of my high school guidance counselors recommended it to me. They thought I would like the feel and community of the school as well as the small size. Plus, the Jesuit educational mission and ideals are similar to those of my high school, and I really liked it there.

UofSHealthPsych: What inspired you to join the Health Psychology Research Team?

RP: I took Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Arigo and enjoyed the class. From there I interviewed her for a career development course, and found out that we had similar interests (in social media, for example). She introduced me to the field of health psychology and to the lab.

UofSHealthPsych: Tell us about your experience with the Health Psychology Research Team.

RP: It has been both challenging and eye opening. I have done things that I never thought I could do before, like helping to oversee a large, complicated project with many participants. Being in the lab has expanded my interests and I have found some new abilities.

UofSHealthPsych: What’s the most valuable lesson have you learned from doing research with the team?

kzRP: Just how much goes into the research process. There is so much that you don’t see from the outside. And learning how to be professional yet personable with participants. That’s been really helpful for me, because it also strengthens my clinical skills.

UofSHealthPsych: We know that you’re doing an independent study this semester. What can you tell us about it?

RP: (Laughs) It involves Snapchat! It’s about the relationship between social media and health behaviors. I’m interested in how people respond to social media. It came from all of the work I did on the Fitspiration blog series, which was a great way to learn how to communicate research to a broad audience.

UofSHealthPsych: What did you like the most about Scranton and the research team?

RP: For Scranton, the people. For the research team, how much I’ve seen myself grow over the past two years.

UofSHealthPsych: What are your future plans?

RP: So I don’t have to miss Scranton or the team too much, actually. Right after graduation I’m staying on as a research coordinator, working with Dr. Arigo on projects related to physical activity. Eventually I plan to apply to graduate school for clinical psychology.

UofSHealthPsych Welcomes Leah Schumacher to Campus

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leah1On September 20, 2016 the Health Psychology Research Team and the Psychology Club welcomed Leah Schumacher, M.S. to talk about her research and clinical experiences. Leah is currently a Ph.D candidate in clinical psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Leah’s visit featured a talk on her research into behavior lapses and difficulty with healthy eating and exercise. Before the main event, our research team was treated to a conversation about Leah’s experiences with graduate school and exploring a career path that was right for her. Leah shared her own journey with us: she explained how her  path did not take her exactly where she planned, but each experience helped lead her to a career that she is excited about. We learned the importance of finding your own path, and considering master’s degree programs to help hone in on your interests before the substantial commitment of a Ph.D. or other doctoral-level program.

Leah explained that choosing a grad program leah3is not the end of your path, and there will be opportunities to change in the future if your career goals change. (This was a relief to us!) We learned that it is important to get experiences in a variety of settings because that can help you discover what is right for you. She talked about how the best way to know if you want to pursue a particular career is when you go out into the field and try it. You may find that your experience does not match your expectations. She gave an example of working at a substance use treatment facility; although she valued the experience, it taught her that working with substance use isn’t quite right for her. An important take away message from this conversation was to make sure you try things you think you won’t like, because that could end up being what you like the most.

During this conversation, we distinguished between graduate programs in psychology and related fields. For example, the differences between programs in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or social work. She also explained the differences between a masters program versus a Ph.D. program. Ph. D programs are highly competitive, and you should not be discouraged if you do not get accepted your first time applying. We discussed that picking the best program for you should take precedence over “the best program” in other people’s minds.

 

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Leah speaking to UofSHealthPsych, the Psychology Club, and other student guests.

After this session came Leah’s main talk, which was attended by our lab, Psychology Club members, and other interested students. Leah presented her research on “lapses” after starting a behavior change effort and how they affect people who are trying to live healthier lifestyles. Specifically, she explained that behavioral lapses occur when individuals set goals to follow a behavior modification plan and then experience a slip back to their old behavior. Some people will experience a lapse for a day or so and then continue working towards their goal, while others will quit entirely. Research in this area looks to explain the psychological contributors to behavioral lapses. Leah brought to our attention the scarcity of research in this area and the opportunities for new discoveries.

Everyone who attended the talk gained beneficial information. This included information regarding graduate school and career paths, but also on health psychology research that could be helpful for improving behavior change treatments. Overall it was a valuable learning experience for all those involved. We thank Leah for sharing her research and personal experiences with us!

Learn more about Leah’s research team at Drexel. Contributors to this post were Zuhri Outland, Kristen Pasko, Marissa DeStefano, and Dr. Arigo.

Meet @UofSHealthPsych: Interview with Coco Thomas

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Coco Thomas is a senior Nursing major who joined the Clinical Health Research Team in 2015. She was interviewed by senior Psychology major Katie Notarianni.

Coco

UofSHealthPsych: Where are you from?

CT: I’m from Parsippany, New Jersey. Soon to be full time in Scranton, PA!

UofSHealthPsych: Why did you choose Scranton?

CT: When I visited the campus, it just felt right and I decided on a whim that this would be my school. It ended up working out very well for me and I am glad how it turned out.

UofSHealthPsychWhat inspired you to join the Clinical Health Lab?

CT: I wanted to do research but was uncertain about what kind. I was talking to Dr. Cannon, a Neuroscience professor, and a student said “you should talk to Dr. Arigo.” I attended the APSSC Research Day to hear her students present, and I contacted her to ask about opportunities in the lab. I’m glad that the other student pointed me in this direction.

UofSHealthPsych: Do you do anything for your health that you learned from the lab?

CT: Dr. Arigo gave me a Fitbit once to try it out. It was helpful so I could learn how to use it and trouble shoot it so I could help research participants with technical difficulties. It also helped me look at my own health from a new perspective.

UofSHealthPsychWhat advice do you have for students who might be interested in research?

CT: If you’re motivated, just go for it. It’s a good experience and definitely worthwhile. If you put in the work you will get a lot out of it. It’s a way to learn in an applied setting. Instead of just reading, you can implement concepts into action.

UofSHealthPsychWhat do you plan to do after you graduate?

CT: I am going to graduate and get my nursing license. I am going to work in the ER at Moses Taylor Hospital and continue taking classes at The University of Scranton while continuing research. Eventually I plan to apply to medical school.

UofSHealthPsychWhat will you miss most about Scranton?

CT: When I leave I will miss the opportunities that are offered here. For, example retreats and study abroad, research, and different activities on campus. I will also miss the types of people that come to Scranton. Everyone is kind and friendly and I have noticed that Scranton helps people develop good personalities and values.