Sunday, November 1, 2015

Latest, greatest research awaits you at APHA poster sessions

Take a peek beyond the schools and programs of public health at the Public Health Expo and you’ll find a treasure trove of the latest research at the Annual Meeting’s many poster sessions.

For example, inspired by research on child summer camp preparedness, Alan Sielaff and his fellow researchers at the University of Michigan looked into how well such camps are equipped to handle disaster situations, such as hurricanes or mass shooting scenarios.

Out of the more than 160 camp staff members researchers surveyed across the U.S., 80 percent did not have emergency disaster plans available online for parents. Also, 25 percent of those camps did not discuss emergency plans with parents of campers, and 18 percent of camps were 20 miles or more away from the closest medical facility.

“There are lots of things we need to improve on to make sure they’re safe,” Sielaff said. “If you’re a parent sending your kid away for a week, you want to know how to get your kid in the event of a disaster. You want to know how they’re going to get the information to you.”

With two of their fellow researchers being self-confessed binge TV watchers, researchers Alaina Kramer and Jessica Kruger of the University of Toledo’s College of Health Sciences wanted to study the link between a love of Netflix and mental health.

Their team surveyed the TV-watching habits and mental health status of more than 400 people, among which 140 self-identified as binge watchers.

Participants who self-identified as binge TV watchers considered watching three to four-and-a-half hours in one sitting as binge watching, Kramer said. The level of watching was associated with a higher risk of anxiety, depression and stress, according to the research.

“When you’re binge watching, a lot of people might see it as a social event, but it’s really not,” Kramer said. “You’re really isolated. When you’re binge watching, you might be eating a lot more or doing other activities that are affecting your health.”

Check out all the fascinating poster sessions for yourself at the back of the Public Health Expo.

— N.M.

Above from top to bottom: Alaina Kramer and Jessica Kruger of the University of Toledo's College of Health Sciences present research on binge TV watching and its effects on mental health; and Alan Sielaff of the University of Michigan presents research on disaster preparedness in sleep-away camps. Photos by Natalie McGill

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