Incidence of and Risk for Early Mortality among National Football League Players, 1922-Present

Principal Investigator: Brittany Kmush, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Health
(Co-I) Shane Sanders, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Sport Management
(Co-I) Bhavneet Walia, Ph.D., Instructor, Sport Management
(Co-I) Arthur Owora, MPH, DrPH, Assistant Professor, Public Health

This proposal will examine mortality rates among NFL players as well as determine the association of player attributes and on-field events with mortality in this cohort of 23,000 elite male athletes primarily from the United States with data collection starting in 1922.

Long-term adverse health outcomes, particularly those associated with concussions including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, depression, and mortality, are of growing concern among elite athletes, especially professional boxers and American football players. However, concussions can be difficult to diagnose and there is mounting evidence that even sub-clinical blows, especially when they occur frequently, can also lead to adverse health outcomes. Among National Football League (NFL) players, certain player attributes including playing style and position of play, along with on-field events, such as number of tackles and sacks, are likely to be strong predictors for the risk of developing adverse long-term health outcomes from repeated, yet mild, trauma.


Moderating Effects of Physiological and Socio-behavioral Characteristics on the SU Football Team Injuries and Performance: A Pilot Cohort Study

Principal Investigator: Arthur Owora, MPH, DrPH, Assistant Professor, Public Health
(Co-I) Bhavneet Walia, Ph.D., Instructor, Sport Management
(Co-I) Brittany Kmush, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Health
(Co-I) Shane Sanders, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Sport Management

The goal of this seed grant project is to expand our current understanding of college football-related injuries, its causes and opportunities for prevention informed by paradigms drawn from a range of disciplines, including epidemiology, biostatistics, biomechanics, ergonomics and the behavioral and social sciences. Through collaboration with the Syracuse University Football Department, this project will create research databases that will facilitate an examination of epidemiologic associations involving various physiological and socio-behavioral factors and football related injuries.

Existing literature suggests that football-related injuries follow acute events and are considered to be relatively sudden in onset. As a consequence, it is tempting to focus on the impact of short-term influences such as physiological and anthropometric characteristics of players in a bid to design injury prevention strategies. While such factors are undeniably important, risk of injury does not preclude the influence of socio-behavioral factors including depression and stress. Indeed, there are a host of distal factors that influence these domains, not all of which are inherently obvious and therefore are currently not considered amenable to intervention.

Compared to existing injury models, the retrospective cohort study design proposed in this project will explicitly extend the temporal dimension of the “pre-event” phase of the commonly used explanatory injury matrix proposed by Haddon (1970) to include distal socio-behavioral factors. An analytical approach that views these risk factors as having potentially different effects (both mediation and moderation) at distinct critical periods over the full-time span of a player’s college experience (i.e. four or more years) will be examined. This approach to the conceptualization of football-related injuries will be used to define the nature and magnitude of the injury problems, establish causal models that link risk factors, protective factors, and injury experience. Project findings will be used to lay the foundational premise for pilot testing preventive strategies linked to modifiable factors with intervention potential as a means to reduce injury risk while promoting optimal player performance.


Building Korea’s Brand Personality and Equity with the Olympic Brand and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

Principal Investigator: Jeeyoon (Jamie) Kim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Sport Management

Countries host the Olympics with expectations to improve the country’s brand through the games. The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics is no exception, expecting $10.5 billion worth country brand improvement effect that leads to $39.8 billion worth of increase in Korean product sales and tourist visit (HRI, 2011). However, such optimistic expectation on branding effects is often criticized as ‘unreliable’, ‘romanticized’, and ‘unrealized’. Key criticisms lie on (1) lack of management on ‘desired’ brand association, (2) ineffective utilization of the Olympic brand, and (3) measurement issues in assessing Olympics-caused branding effects (with externalities controlled). Such criticisms can be each addressed by applying the concepts/methods of PM (Psychological Meaning) -based brand personality, co-branding, and congruency analysis.

Thus, a research will take place to (1) understand the brand personality of Korea that the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for Olympic Games (“POCOG”) is aiming to build through the 2018 Winter Olympics, and (2) assess whether Korea’s brand personality and equity have changed as desired after the 2018 games. The project will be conducted in two phases. First, a semi-structured interview and PM based survey will be carried out with POCOG managers, to learn and develop a scale to measure the brand personality that POCOG aims to build for Korea. Second, a survey-based study will assess how the brand personality and equity of Korea changes over the 2018 games, among the general public of China and United States. Pre-post games data on perceived brand personality and brand equity of Korea will be compared through multi-group SEM with mean structure. The transfer of Olympic brand to Korea’s brand through the 2018 games and moderating factors (e.g., brand familiarity, market type, sport involvement) in the transfer will be evaluated, with congruency analysis and latent moderated SEM.


Correlates of Longevity among Former NCAA Football Players

2017-2018 Sport and Human Development Institute Seed Grant Award

Principal Investigator: Shane Sanders, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Sport Management
(Co-I) Arthur Owora, MPH, DrPH, Assistant Professor, Public Health
(Co-I) Brittany Kmush, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Health
(Co-I) Bhavneet Walia, Ph.D., Instructor, Sport Management

This proposal will examine mortality rates among NFL players as well as determine the association of player attributes and on-field events with mortality in this cohort of 23,000 elite male athletes primarily from the United States with data collection starting in 1922.

Long-term adverse health outcomes, particularly those associated with concussions including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, depression, and mortality, are of growing concern among elite athletes, especially professional boxers and American football players. However, concussions can be difficult to diagnose and there is mounting evidence that even sub-clinical blows, especially when they occur frequently, can also lead to adverse health outcomes. Among National Football League (NFL) players, certain player attributes including playing style and position of play, along with on-field events, such as number of tackles and sacks, are likely to be strong predictors for the risk of developing adverse long-term health outcomes from repeated, yet mild, trauma.


Seed Grant Archives

School Climate Survey: Enhancing Student Achievement

Principal Investigators: Kendra DeLoach McCutcheon

The conceptualization of school climate differs widely in the literature. Howard (1987) defined it as an atmosphere conducive to learning, the feelings that people have about the school, whether it is a place that facilitates learning, and the environment where students and school personnel determine if they want to be enrolled or employed. Moreover, school climate involves the relationships among students, between students and teachers, between teachers and parents/caregivers, student well-being, school environment, academic motivation, student safety, school connectedness, services and supports, and clarity of expectations and rules. Students and school personnel report wanting to spend more time in schools with a positive climate (Howard). A positive school climate benefits many areas (e.g. academic learning, academic outcomes, attendance/absenteeism, and behavioral incidents) of youth development, especially for youth with social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) problems (Sprague, Nelson, & Martin, 2007).

Youth with (SEB) problems have been noted as having the poorest outcomes, such as high dropout rate, poor academic achievement, poor post-school outcomes, an social outcomes of any disability group, with no apparent improvements over the past several decades (Quinn, 2004; Knitzer, Wagner et al., 2006). More than half of all students with SEB problems are arrested within 5 years of leaving school, exceeding 70% for dropouts (VanAcker, 2007). The unique positioning of schools in the lives of youth with SEB provides access to a captive audience in which schools provide educational, prevention, and early intervention services. Increasingly, schools are becoming an emergent system of care in implementing a variety of behavior supports for youth and their families (Robertson, Anderson, & Meyer, 2004). For this to happen effectively, it is important to understand the school climate and its effect on youth connectedness, youth development, family engagement, and teacher motivation. The intent is to collect data from over 2000 students, parents/caregivers, and school personnel regarding their perception of relational, social, academic, and institutional functioning. The proposed study will assess school climate with students, parents/caregivers, and school personnel in an elementary and middle school.


Survey Development to Measure Ethnic Loyalty and Loyalty Conflicts in Refugees from the Middle East

Principal Investigators: Rashmi Gangamma & Ambika Krishnakumar

Existing studies on refugees document severe and complex trauma due to forced displacement, and the urgent need to examine factors of individual and family well-being during resettlement (Nickerson, Bryant, Steel, Silove, & Brooks, 2010; Steel, Silove, Brooks, Momartin, Alzuhairi, & Susljik, 2006; Jamil, Hakim‐Larson, Farrag, Kafaji, Duqum, & Jamil, 2002; Lie, 2002). A recently completed study on refugees resettled from Iraq by the PI indicated a need to also examine ethnic loyalty and loyalty conflicts. In this study, a struggle between wanting to forget their suffering in Iraq and needing to remember their cultural heritage was poignant in their narratives. Studies on ethnic loyalty in the immigrant populations suggest that it may impact individuals’ acculturative process and symptomatology (e.g., Niemann, Romero, & Arbona, 2000; Daha, 2011). Loyalty conflicts in the refugee population may impact the broader psycho-socio-political context of resettlement such as experiences of marginalization, acculturation difficulties (Porter & Haslam, 2005) and cultural bereavement (Eisenbruch, 1991). However, all known measures of ethnic loyalty were constructed for use with immigrant populations. Given the importance of this construct in understanding the acculturative process, we propose to develop a survey to measure ethnic loyalty in a sample of refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries resettled in the Central New York region.

Methods: This project is designed as a survey development study and will be conducted in two phases. The goal of the first phase is to identify indicators ethnic loyalty and loyalty conflicts through interviews with a sample of five refugees. In the second phase, a culturally sensitive survey will be developed using interview data from the first study. Thirty participants will be recruited for phase two to provide content validity and internal reliability of the survey.

Unique contribution of the project: This study brings together knowledge from the fields of family therapy, family science, and acculturative studies to advance theory and research in refugee studies. In addition to testing the hypotheses, findings from the study will provide new directions on measurement of ethnic loyalty in the refugee populations.

Expected outcome: The study is expected to yield a measurement of ethnic loyalty in the refugee population. One manuscript to be published in a peer-reviewed journal is also expected.

Collaborator: Dr. Ambika Krishnakumar, Associate professor in the department of Child and Family Studies is a co-Investigator. She is an established scholar and expert in quantitative and cross-cultural research in the area of family studies.

Importance of this project in the field: Findings from this study will be used to further establish collaborative, interdisciplinary research in refugee studies that will shed more light on processes of adjustment and outcomes in the refugee population and ultimately inform clinical practice.

Contribution of the project to my research career: The field of Marriage and Family Therapy lags behind in the area of refugee research. This study, which results as a direct extension of my recently completed qualitative study on Iraqi refugees, will place my work at the forefront of our field.


The New American Farmer: Immigration, Race, and the Struggle for Sustainability

Principal Investigators: Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern

This research explores the role of Latinos as farmer-entrepreneurs in United States agriculture today by following the stories of immigrant farmers as they transition from farmworkers to farm owners. This mixed methods study includes a comparison of five case sites across the United States, in Virginia, New York, California, Minnesota, and Washington. In each of these states, there exists a sizable and unique group of Latino farmers who have struggled against multiple forms of inequality to start their own farm businesses. These immigrant farmers often combine the knowledge they bring from Latin American subsistence farms with skills they acquire working in industrial agriculture in the US. Although immigrants are not commonly identified with the growing alternative food movement in the US (Guthman 2008; Slocum 2007), many of these farms use low-impact farming practices that contribute to ecologically and socially diverse agricultural production.

While the majority of US farm ownership remains white, Latino immigrants from Mexico and Central America are rising in the ranks of farm ownership and operation. Farms whose principal operators were of “Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino origin” in the United States grew from 50,592 in 2002 to 55,570 in 2007, and to 99,734 in 2012 (United States Department of Agriculture 2014). In the most recent USDA count, 64,439 Latino farmers were primary farm business owners as well. In other words, more Latinos have assumed leadership roles on farms in the US. And yet, this significant group of farm owners and their farm practices has yet to be studied at length. My study has begun to analyze dynamics of racial oppression and farmworker agency, and in doing so, aims to promote greater inclusivity in food and farming in the US today. Drawing on interviews with farmers and organizational staff that work with immigrant farmers, as well as USDA Census data, this project will provide the first in-depth study of Latino farmers across the United States. In particular, this project will highlight whether and how this new farming population is contributing to more agro-ecological and racially just food systems.


Collaborative Mental Health Policy Reform: An Ethnographic Analysis

Principal Investigators: Matthew C. Spitzmueller

New York State recently began a major initiative to overhaul its mental health payment and delivery systems. Under a newly minted Medicaid waiver program, the state will pursue a sweeping reinvestment strategy to cut costs, improve care, and enhance outcomes. As a component of this initiative, policymakers have endorsed the value of a regional planning approach. Ten regions will reflect the natural patterns of service utilization across the state. Each region will have its own Regional Planning Consortium (RPC), bringing together local stakeholders to provide input into the reinvestment process. RPCs will implement a collaborative governance model in an effort to improve the quality of mental health care through consensus building and local participation. This study asks three related questions.

  1. How do mental health officials construct a model of collaborative governance?
  2. How do participants understand their roles within this policy framework?
  3. And, what becomes of collaborative governance under the unique conditions of mental health policymaking?

By examining an innovative site of implementation, this study will generate theory that is relevant to scholarship on collaborative governance and consensus building (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Donahue, 2004; Huxham, Vangen, Huxham, & Eden, 2000; Innes, 1996; Lawrence, Sarah, & Jennifer, 1999). This study will also contribute meaningful findings to the literature on mental health policymaking (Bellack, 2006; Carpenter, 2002; Jacobson, 2004; Spitzmueller, 2014; Turner-Crowson & Wallcraft, 2002). New York’s RPC model will hold important lessons for scholars of mental health policy, Medicaid reform and public administration.

I will use ethnographic methods to examine how participants in the RPC of Central New York negotiate collaborative governance. I will observe meetings, conduct informal and semi-structured interviews, and analyze official documents that are made available to RPC participants. Field notes, interviews, and official records will be coded using NVivo 11. This study will lead to the publication of original scholarship. Lynn Warner, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, will serve as a mentor on this project. This study fits both my background and trajectory as an ethnographic re-searcher of mental health policy and organizational practice.


Using Textual Analysis Software to Measure Team Brand Association Networks

Principal Investigators: Patrick Walsh

Team brand associations, or the first thoughts which come to mind when an individual thinks about or is exposed to a sport organization’s brand, are fundamental to the business success of sport organizations. These brand associations form the image an individual has for a particular sport team and have been suggested to be a primary factor contributing to a team’s ability to generate revenue and build a loyal fan base (Aaker, 1996; Ross, 2006). As such, it is important for sport organizations to have accurate measures of their brand associations. While previous scaled measures of team brand associations have contributed to our knowledge in this area (Gladden & Funk, 2002; Ross, James, & Vargas, 2006), it has been suggested that preexisting scales cannot capture the most salient and unique features of brands (Heere, 2010; Walsh, Clavio, Lovell, & Blaszka, 2013), or uncover the brand association networks which describe the relative strength of the associations and how they are interconnected (John, Loken, Kim, & Basu Monga, 2006). Therefore, it is important for research to continue to develop new and unique methods which measure and analyze team brand associations.

The specific aim of this study is to examine the utility of using textual analysis software to identify and measure team brand associations. Leximancer, a software program which performs content analysis of large groups of texts, will be utilized in this study. A self-administered web based survey with a national sample of sport fans will be used to collect data. Specifically, utilizing a free-thought listing technique to measure brand associations, study participants will be asked to list the first thoughts which come to mind when they think of their favorite professional sports teams. Those responses will be uploaded to Leximancer which will analyze the data and provide a visual concept map which identifies the key brand associations and how all the brand associations are connected. Those brand associations will be compared to the study participant’s measure of their favorite team’s associations using a preexisting scale (Ross et al., 2006) and compared across varying levels of commitment to the team.

Acculturation, Work-family Interface, Dietary Patterns and Health among South Asian Immigrants

Principal Investigators: Kamala Ramadoss & Sudha Raj

Although Latinos are the largest minority group in terms of sheer numbers, Asians are the fastest growing minority group (Pew Research Center, 2013). Of the 80 different groups of Asian Americans in the U. S., the largest groups are Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans and Asian-Indian Americans. Immigrants from the Indian sub-continent (or sometimes referred to as South Asians include immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka) share some commonalities such as family structure, collectivist orientation, common history of colonization and subsequent independence from Great Britain (Almeida, 2005; Rastogi, 2007; Seegobin, 1999). Very little is known about South Asians and their acculturation, work-family issues, dietary changes as a result of migration and health.

The intentional action of international migration wherein an individual crosses national borders in search of jobs that will provide a better quality of life for oneself and thereby for one’s family creates unique work-family contexts. How one integrates with the host culture and the level of acculturation stress will exacerbate other stressors which will then have an impact on one’s health in the long-term. Recent immigrants will need to work hard and work long hours to establish and become successful in their new lives in the U. S. (Banerjee, 2009; Misra & Gupta, 2004) but do not typically have the social support that they would have received in their country of origin (Gu, 2009). Research on immigrants form South Asia is limited and the few studies reported in the literature have focused only on the relationship between diet and health (Gadgil et al., 2014; Misra & Gupta, 2004); length of stay in the U. S was used as a proxy for acculturation. There is very little research (Misra & Gupta, 2004; Ramadoss et al., 2014) on work-family interface, acculturation and health but these studies used self-reported measure of health and used work hours as a proxy for work overload. This study proposes to take an integrated approach and will examine the effect of acculturation, work overload, family overload, and dietary changes on stress. Moreover, we propose to use both subjective (self-reported) and objective (cortisol) measures of stress. We have selected salivary cortisol as a measure of possible physiological changes associated with acculturation stress because it is a valid, responsive biomarker (Almeida, Piazza, & Stawski, 2009; Nicolson et al., 2013) that can both support survey findings and contribute to the literature on acculturation stress biomarkers. Furthermore, qualitative data from South Asian immigrants showed that the type of stressors vary for new immigrants and immigrants who have been in the U. S. for a prolonged period (Ramadoss et al., 2014). Therefore, we propose to do a comparative study between immigrants who have been in the U. S. for less than 5 years and those who have been in the U. S. for more than 10 years.


National Survey of Mobile Markets

Principal Investigators: Evan Weissman & Jonnell A. Robinson

“Food deserts” – poor neighborhoods within limited access to healthful food – are the result of social, political, and economic shifts in the United States. In recent years, however, many food desert communities are employing innovative methods for improving food access (Walker et al. 2010). There is an existing and growing body of research that explores the impacts of various approaches to improving food access, including farmers’ markets (Dollahite et al. 2005), community supported agriculture (Quandt et al. 2013), and urban agriculture (Block et al. 2012). However, few studies evaluate contemporary mobile markets, mobile vendors of healthful food working specifically to address food deserts. A recently completed case study of mobile markets in Syracuse, New York conducted by the PI and co-PI finds that although Syracuse’s mobile markets play a positive role in alleviating geographic, economic and social barriers to fresh food access experienced by elderly, immobile and low income residents living in Syracuse’s urban neighborhoods, their impacts are dampened by both operational constraints and larger political and economic forces (paper under review).

This proposed research emerges from the Syracuse case study to use survey research and interviews to examine mobile markets nationally as an approach to servicing communities with limited healthy food options. At present, mobile markets have operated in approximately fifty communities across the United States.1 Despite the growing popularity of mobile markets, published information is limited to project websites, local press releases and in very few instances, annual financial statements and progress reports. Given the dearth of research on mobile markets, this proposed project fills a gap in both the literature on mobile markets and offers much-needed feedback to market operators by providing a better understanding of how mobile markets operate, the barriers they face, and the role they can play in addressing food disparities. The specific aim of the proposed research is to generate baseline descriptive data of mobile markets throughout the United States.


Understanding Collaborative Mental Health Policy Reform: Toward Recovery-Oriented Care

Principal Investigators: Matthew Spitzmueller

Mental health advocates have argued that in the “age of recovery,” consumers must play a more active role in determining the nature and extent of the services they receive (Anthony, 1993; DHHS, 2003; SAMHSA, 2011). The recovery model has set a new standard for what it means to incorporate consumer and family perspectives at key decision points in the mental health system (Jacobson & Greenley, 2001; Jacobson & Curtis, 2000; Jacobson, 2004). At the same time, reforms in public administration are fundamentally reshaping how service delivery systems are financed and managed (Brodkin, 2011; Denhardt & Denhardt, 2000; Ganju, 2006; Kettl, 2000; Osborne & Gaebler, 1993). These concurrent developments raise a critical question for mental health policymakers and researchers. What does it mean in this moment of profound structural reform for mental health consumers to be involved in key policy decisions?

This study provides a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to investigate how the state of New York is planning to incorporate consumer and family perspectives into its initiative to overhaul its mental health system. This study will ask three related questions:

  1. How do mental health officials construct a model of collaborative governance?
  2. How do participants understand their roles within this policy framework?
  3. And, what becomes of collaborative governance under the unique conditions of mental health policymaking?

By investigating an innovative site of implementation, this study will generate theory that is relevant to scholarship on collaborative governance and consensus building (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Donahue, 2004; Huxham et al., 2000; Innes, 1996; Lawrence et al., 1999). And, this study will contribute meaningful findings to the literature on mental health policy and the recovery model (Bellack, 2006; Carpenter, 2002; Jacobson, 2004; Spitzmueller, 2014; Turner- Crowson & Wallcraft, 2002).

The researcher will use ethnographic methods to examine how mental health policymaking is negotiated through the Regional Planning Consortium (RPC) of Central New York. The researcher will attend and observe meetings, conduct informal and semi-structured interviews, and analyze official documents that are made available to participants. Field notes, interviews, and official records will be coded using NVivo 10 to develop and analyze thematic connections among related episodes over time. This study will lead to a grant application and publication. Lynn Warner, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, will serve as the mentor for this project. New York’s RPC model will hold important lessons for scholars of mental health policy, the recovery model, Medicaid reform, public administration, and collaborative governance. This study fits both my background and trajectory as an ethnographic researcher of mental health policy and practice, and organizational behavior.


Hiring, Training, and Retaining Competent Direct Care Workers in Youth Residential Treatment: An Ethnographic Study of Workforce Issues in a High-Stress Field

Principal Investigators: Yvonne Smith

Residential treatment centers (RCTs) provide 24-­‐hour care to emotionally disturbed youth whose symptoms are considered too acute for outpatient treatment. Despite increasing financial and ethico-­‐legal pressures to treat them in less intensive and restrictive settings, an increasingly symptomatic population of youth continues to require out-­‐of-­‐home treatment in RTCs (AACRC, 2014; Leichtman, Leichtman, Barber, & Neese, 2001). Most daily client interactions in RTCs occur with professionally trained or paraprofessional direct care workers, who have been consistently viewed as critical to treatment success (e.g., Holden, 2009; Leichtman, 2008; Smith, 2014a; 2014b; Trieschman, Whittaker, & Brendtro, 1969). They are, however, among the least formally educated and lowest paid employees of RTCs, have high rates of turnover (Baker, Fulmore, & Collins, 2008; Conner et al., 2003), and have, at times, harmed youth in their care (Kutz & O’Connell, 2007; Nunno, Holden, & Tollar, 2006).

Despite the high stakes of direct care work, and the well-­‐documented difficulty of maintaining an experienced workforce in this area, little research considers how RTCs negotiate this considerable challenge. This study is designed to answer the question: How does one youth residential treatment center identify, hire, train, and retain direct care staff with the capacity to serve children in line with its organizational mission and values?

Specifically, it will investigate local theories about factors influencing job success and failure and the development of professional expertise. It will also investigate the validity of constructs, such as occupational burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization, for understanding turnover and analyze local beliefs and practices related to retaining expert direct care workers over time.

The research questions will be addressed through sustained ethnographic study of one RTC. In cooperation with the residential campus of Elmcrest Children’s Center, the researcher will engage in participant observation of daily work activities of direct care workers, including orientation, training, and care of clients, and of agency administrators and others involved in human resources tasks such as hiring and training. Initial insights gained through participant observation will be elaborated through interviews with key informants whose work is relevant to the research questions. As is customary in ethnography, working hypotheses will be developed and checked with key informants in an iterative fashion throughout the study to develop well-­‐triangulated, valid, contextualized understandings of organizational knowledge and practices.

This study is designed to generate insights with direct applications both to the participating organization and the broader field of residential treatment. It will provide an in-­‐depth understanding of how one real-­‐world RTC negotiates the challenges of maintaining a direct care workforce to treat youth with serious emotional and behavioral problems under financial and regulatory constraints. This study offers the opportunity to investigate the validity of existing constructs for understanding high turnover in RTCs while contributing to the specification of what constitutes adequate training and expert practice in this field. Finally, this study is poised to identify and disseminate strategies and tactics for sustaining a workforce of expert direct care workers in RTCs.

The Development and Evaluation of a Mind-body Awareness Intervention to Enhance Self-Regulation as a Mechanism to Promote Healthy Weight among Young Children

Principal Investigators: Lynn Brann, Rachel Razza & Dessa Bergen-Cico

Self-regulation has important implications for children’s behavior across multiple contexts, as it allows children to control impulses with respect to eating and behavioral conduct. Cultivating self-regulation through mindfulness-based programs (MBP) is a novel approach to childhood overweight and obesity prevention, as it can support children’s development of mind-body awareness and self-regulation (hunger, satiety) to develop a healthy and nourishing relationship with food at an early age. The goal of this project is to adapt and further develop a MBP involving mindful eating, meditation and yoga for use with children aged 3-5 years; and pilot test it in childcare centers in Onondaga County.

Specifically, this project aims to evaluate an eight week intervention to promote children’s self-regulation of energy intake and behavior. It is hypothesized that children in the intervention will show greater gains in both self-regulation related to energy intake and behavior. There is a particular interest in identifying specific aspects of self-regulation that are enhanced including executive function, and more specifically, inhibitory control.

The quasi-experimental design (n=30 intervention; n=30 control) will capture environmental factors, anthropometric and diet assessment measures, children’s self-regulation for eating and behavior through a combination of direct assessment and parent report measures. Process evaluation data will be collected to examine fidelity and pre-, post- and three-month follow-up data will be collected to assess effectiveness. Outcome evaluation analyses will include regression and MANCOVA.

Our mentor, who has experience in program evaluation and a successful funding record, will provide guidance with data analyses, manuscript development and external funding opportunities. This pilot will serve as the basis for development of future externally funded grants to continue to enhance this model for child obesity prevention. Specifically, preliminary data to support this innovative approach to obesity intervention will enhance the quality of revised grant applications to previously submitted organizations as well as facilitate additional grant opportunities.

This project represents an interdisciplinary effort to bridge child development theory with essential practices in nutrition and public health. Thus, each member of the research team brings different expertise that allow for a more comprehensive approach to child obesity prevention.


Housing and LGBTQ Youth: A Mixed-Methods Community Needs Assessment

Principal Investigators: Deb Coolhart, Maria Brown

Research indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified (LGBTQ) youth are at greater risk of homelessness (2-13 times) than their heterosexual counterparts, and are more likely to leave home as the result of physical abuse at home, often because of conflicts with parents about sexual orientation (Cochran, Stewart, Ginzler, & Cauce, 2002; Corliss, Goodenow, Nichols, & Austin, 2011). Once homeless, LGBTQ youth are at greater risk for a variety of experiences that can detrimentally affect their physical and mental health (Cochran, et al., 2002; Corliss, et al., 2011; Gangamma, Slesnick, Toviessi, & Serovich, 2008; McLaughlin, Hatzenbuehler, Xuan, & Conron, 2012; Whitbeck, Chen, Hoyt, Tyler, & Johnson, 2004). Most of the research done on homeless LGBTQ youth has been done in large cities, providing little information about the unique experiences and needs of homeless LGBTQ youth in smaller cities and surrounding suburban and rural areas.

During the summer of 2013, the Syracuse/Onondaga County Youth Bureau contacted the Falk College Office of Research about the social problem of homelessness among LGBTQ youth in Central New York. In response to this outreach, we have been collaborating with several community agencies to form the Q Home working group. As a result, the current study is designed to assess needs in Central New York surrounding LGBTQ homeless youth. The project is a mixed-methods study based on grounded theory, collecting qualitative interview and focus group data as well as quantitative survey data from service providers and LGBTQ youth with a history of homelessness.

The specific aims of this project are to:

  1. describe the experiences of Central New York runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth,
  2. assess the understanding of homeless LGBTQ youth among Central New York service providers, and
  3. identify existing services and service gaps and barriers affecting runaway and homeless LGBTQ youth in Central New York.

This collaboration enables each investigator to practice new research skills while building on their own research experience. Findings from this study will result in several published manuscripts and provide data to Q Home agencies for applications to fund services for homeless LGBTQ youth in Central New York.


Family Experiences of Iraqi Refugees Resettled in Syracuse, NY

Principal Investigator: Rashmi Gangamma

Existing studies on refugee populations have noted a growing public health care challenge and insufficient models of treatment (Fazel et al., 2012). There are very few studies on the family experiences of refugees as they settle in their home country despite the importance of family as a significant predictor of well-being (Weine et al., 2004). This study aims to understand how family relationships are maintained and experienced by refugees as they resettle in a host country following intense periods of trauma and loss. The study is conceptualized within the framework of the contextual therapy theory, an integrative, strengths-based family therapy theory allowing an examination of family relationships embedded within a larger systemic context. This study proposes to study Iraqi refugees, displaced in 2001 since the beginning of the U.S. led war, who are among the latest to be resettled in Syracuse, NY. The study seeks to explore: how do refugees experience familial bonds as they resettle in a host country? How do individuals make meaning of these family experiences?

The study will address a significant gap in understanding the family experiences of refugees and contribute towards the development of novel family focused interventions in this population.

An interpretive phenomenology methodology will guide data collection and analyses for an in-depth exploration of experiences and their meanings. Participants will be recruited through snowball sampling method using the key informant strategy. A sample of 10 individuals will be interviewed twice to discuss their family experiences in the following broad domains –

  1. Sustaining connections in the family;
  2. Evolving roles of family members;
  3. Challenges faced by the family;
  4. Coping in the family;
  5. Hopes for their family.

The main expected outcome will be a manuscript publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, data from this study will inform development of a grant proposal for a larger study of family relationships in different refugee populations.

Dr. Barbara Krasner, an eminent family therapy scholar and co-developer of the contextual therapy theory will help in application of theory. Dr. Dana Olwan whose scholarly interests are in the area of Middle East studies will provide consultation on larger cultural and political factors impacting family experiences.

Till date, there are no known studies examining family relationships from a family therapy theory perspective. Findings from this study will provide preliminary information towards the development of family-based interventions for the refugee populations thus directly contributing to my long term research career goal of family therapy theory and intervention development.


Cultivating Food Justice: Using Photovoice to Document the Outcomes of a Pilot Food System Intervention Program for Youth

Principal Investigator: Evan Weissman

Across the United States projects are emerging to address the social, environmental, and public health consequences of the conventional food system, including diverse issues such as soil and water contamination, diet-related disease, and expanding food insecurity. The objectives of the proposed project emerge from previous research by the principal investigator finding that although food activists recognize the need for system reform, enacted interventions focus on
changing individual behaviors, especially among youth. Accordingly this research asks: how can interventions be designed and implemented so that youth define the
problems and set the agenda for food system advocacy efforts? This project has an opportunity to bridge what we know to be the need for system reform with the extant focus on individual change. The proposed project culminates in three distinct outcomes: a piloted food system intervention; a manuscript assessing the pilot project; and preliminary data for a proposal to the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program.

The proposed project is designed to use the participatory research method of photovoice and participant observation to document the impacts of a food system intervention among youth in Syracuse, New York. Photovoice is a method whereby community members use cameras to identify and discuss issues of concern. This project develops a novel approach to photovoice as both a pre- and post-intervention method to assess pilot project outcomes. The resulting broader impacts will be a better understanding of how young people in a low-income neighborhood identify food system problems and a youth empowerment intervention. In so doing, the project will make contributions to food studies, especially by linking the urban health outcomes of the conventional food system to opportunities for youth advocacy.

The Center for Community Alternatives, an organization that works with “at risk” youth, will partner on the proposed project by providing opportunity to conduct the pilot project. Katherine McDonald, PhD, Associate Professor of Public Health, will serve as mentor to the principal investigator. Dr. McDonald will guide in the use of participatory research methods and assist in the development of a manuscript detailing the intervention and grant proposals to build on the pilot research.

Exploring the Experiences of Children with Transgender Parents: Family Dynamics, Challenges, and Protective Factors

Principal Investigators: Deborah Coolhart

This project will be the first study to seek data directly from the children of transgender parents and asks the question, “How do the children of transgender parents understand their experiences of their parent’s gender transition?” Using an interpretive phenomenological analysis approach, this study will conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with people who experienced a parent disclosing a transgender identity and undergoing gender transition. This study will address a significant gap in the literature on this topic and provide information that will assist therapists in supporting children and families experiencing the gender transition process. The specific aims of the project are to:

  1. Conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with people who experienced a parent disclosing a transgender identify and undergoing gender transition.
  2. Gather information from these participants regarding their family dynamics, challenges, and protective factors surrounding their parent’s gender transition.
  3. Understand participants’ individual experiences of their parent’s gender transition as well as the similarities and differences between participants’ experiences.
  4. Develop recommendations for therapists working with children and families of transgender parents.


Social Networks and Successful Aging within a Thai Context

Co-Principal Investigators: : Ambika Krishnakumar and Lutchmie Narine

The aim was to better understand the construct of “successful aging” in Thailand, as well as to determine the predictors of successful aging within the Thai context- an issue that has gained prominence following the call by the United Nations Research Agenda on Aging for the 21st century. While there is existing research on the link between social networks, social support, and successful aging, the overwhelming body of evidence comes from studies done in the developed world. This begs the question of how this relationship is manifested in other cultures and economic contexts and whether the concept of social support is universal or whether it is conceptualized differently in different cultural contexts. Given the relevance of social relationships for Thai elderly, studies that incorporate a multidimensional conceptualization of social support can play an important role in determining the pathways to different aspects of successful aging in Thai society. This project will focus on two aims:

  1. To examine the mediating role of different aspects of social support (type, direction, sources) and social engagement in the relationship between social network structure, social network characteristics, and different aspects of successful aging.
  2. To identify the individuals with distinct typologies of social support based on the types, direction, and sources of social support.
  3. To determine the role of Thai cultural expectations/obligations and cultural attitudes towards the elderly in predicting different social support typologies.
  4. To determine the relationship between social support typologies and successful aging.


Work-Family Issues in the Context of Immigration: The Experience of Asian-Indian Immigrants

Principal Investigator: Kamala Ramadoss

The growth of the number of immigrants from India is the highest for any minority group from Asia and very little is known about them.This study will examine the impact of work and acculturation stress on negative spillover from work-to-family and how it impacts the health of the individual. Using purposive sampling, 100 research participants (50 men and 50 women) will participate in a survey of which 10 will participate in an in-depth qualitative interview. Hierarchical regression analyses will be done to test the hypotheses and the qualitative data will be used to complement the findings. The specific aims of the study include:

  1. How does immigration affect the work-family interface and thereby the health of the individual?
  2. Is the process similar or different for men and women? In what way?

Enhancing At-Risk Children’s Self-Regulation via Mindfulness and Yoga: A Pilot Study

Co-Principal Investigators: Dessa Bergen-Cico and Rachel Razza

This project aims to develop, pilot, and evaluate a mindfulness-based yoga intervention for use with at-risk children ages 3-6 years. The 4-week intervention will include both meditation and yoga components adapted from classroom-based programs used with older elementary-age children and incorporate mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) strategies. The evaluation will include randomly selected treatment and control cohorts and assess multiple indices of children’s self-regulation (e.g., sustained attention, inhibitory control, delay of gratification) using a combination of parent/guardian report, interviewer report, and direct assessments. Activities in the project include documenting the extent to which mindfulness impacts attention and related executive function (EF) and effortful control (EC) skills, and examining whether children’s self-regulatory skills are associated with changes in behavior problems, including externalizing and internalizing problems. At the conclusion of this project, an NIH grant application will be submitted, along with a manuscript for publication in a journal such as Journal of Child and Family Studies, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, or Trauma, Violence, and Abuse.


Unearthing Differences in NSHAP Sexual History Data

Co-Principal Investigators: Maria Brown

The project will examine respondents in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), the only nationally representative dataset on the sexual behaviors and practices of older adults in the U.S., who reported a history of at least one same-sex sexual relationship (SSSR). A content analysis of existing literature will be conducted to examine how this sample has been ignored or included in published analyses of the NSHAP data in the time period from 2008-2012. The investigator will also conduct bivariate and multiple regression analyses comparing NHSAP respondents who did and did not report at least one SSSR, and identify differences in social networks, social isolation, and mental health and physical health outcomes between these two groups. This project will provide opportunities to explore social and health disparities in a vulnerable and understudied population of older adults, and will support advocacy to improve data collection and research about this population in social work, public health, and gerontology. At the conclusion of the project two publications will be submitted with corresponding presentations at national conferences on aging and social work research.


Correlates and Consequences of Prenatal Depression: An Exploratory Study

Co-Principal Investigators: Bruce Carter and Carrie Smith

This project is a retrospective cohort design involving chart reviews of the antenatal and delivery charts of 350 pregnant Syracuse residents patients of Upstate Medical University Women’s Health Services who delivered during 2010. The variables include the Edinburgh depression scores (a screening done three times during pregnancy), maternal demographics, antecedent health and social conditions that might influence mood and emotional status, pregnancy-related problems and conditions that might affect stress and coping, and birth outcomes. Key research questions include: what proportion of those who screen positive are referred for further care by the social worker, were there any barriers to referral for additional care, were there any clinical and/or social conditions of the woman associated with positive screens. At the conclusion of f this study, at least one manuscript will be written and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. This project will also be the pilot phase of a larger grant to be submitted in May 2012 to the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York.


Long-term Effects of Sleep Habits and Learning-related Behaviors on Children’s Functioning

Principal Investigator: Eunjoo Jung

This study seeks to examine the extent to which children’s sleep habits and learning related behaviors in early years continue to have an effect on cognitive-academic development and socio-emotional adjustment in adolescence. This research attempts to expand the findings of a previous study and take an innovative look at previously unconsidered fundamental factors by utilizing the unique longitudinal nature of the SECCYD data (NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development). The project has three specific aims:

  1. To determine if sleep habits and learning-related behaviors during the first 3 years of age predict cognitive-academic achievement and behavioral adjustment at age 15;
  2. To investigate developmental processes that may mediate these associations, and identify the critical contributors in these associations;
  3. To determine if links between sleep habits and learning-related behaviors and adolescent functioning are moderated by child gender, race/ethnicity, home and child-care environment.

At the conclusion of this study a revised R03 grant application will be submitted to the National Institute of Health (to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and a manuscript will be submitted to a Tier-one journal, Developmental Psychology

Understanding the Dynamics of the Central New York Food System

Leigh Gantner, Ph.D Assistant Professor, Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition


A Study of cortisol reactivity and recovery in young adolescents

Juye Ji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Social Work


Everyone Succeeds

Eunjoo Jung, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies


WISE Industry Pulse Study

Gina Pauline, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management

The development of cognitive ability and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in maltreated adolescents: Mediation of HPA axis functioning and Moderation of Sleep Disturbance and Gender.

Juye Ji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Social Work


Environmental Chaos and Infant Health Disparities: Integrating Physiological and Sociological Approaches.

Ambika Krishnakumar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Child & Family Studies


Social media as an employee recruitment tool

Linchi Kwok (Lingzhi Guo)Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition


Motivational Signage to Increase Physical Activity on a College Campus: Step Up, ORANGE!

Jeffrey Pauline, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management


Job Strain and Health Outcomes among Emergency First Responders

Maureen Thompson, Ph.D, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director: Public Health

The effects of exhibitor service quality on attendee behavior.

Pamela Allison, Ph.D.


Structured mindfulness based stress reduction for the prevention and intervention of PTSD and alcohol and other drug abuse among veterans.

Dessa K. Bergen-Cico, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition


Shift work with a difference: Work-family issues and coping strategies among employees in the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES).

Kamala Ramadoss, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Family Studies


To investigate the effect of nonnutritive sweeteners and their metabolites on body weight and body composition and delineate the mechanism of function: Literature review and a pilot study using an animal model.

Long Wang, Ph.D., Professor of Practice, Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition