Category Archives: FSoS Faculty News

Project to help first responders wins MN-REACH grant

Tai Mendenhall.
Tai Mendenhall discusses his research to improve the lives of first responders. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall’s project to help first responders, called “Preventing Compassion Fatigue in Disaster-Responders: Advancing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Mobile Self Care App,” has been selected for MN-Reach funding.

The University of Minnesota launched MN-REACH in 2015 to help researchers with new health-related discoveries navigate the complex path(s) from laboratory to market. MN-REACH is also one of three sites in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs.

Mendenhall is principal investigator (PI) on a team that created a self-care app for trauma-responders, the UMN Responder Self-Care App. In 2012, providers and researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Academic Health Center (Office of Emergency Preparedness), and Department of Family Social Science collaborated with colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop the innovative self-care app for emergency responders in-the-field.  They pilot-tested an early version of the app with volunteer members of the UMN’s Medical Reserve Corps (Behavioral-, Biomedical-, Veterinary-, and other teams) and MDH.

“These volunteers assisted us with understanding their use-cases, so that we can refine and revise this early version across both content and organization,” said Mendenhall, who earned his Ph.D. in Family Social Science at the U of M in 2003. “We are now working toward widespread use and rigorous (randomized) empirical testing.  This is very timely and important work!”

Mendenhall’s co-investigators include Andrew Morrow, in the U of M’s Office for Technology Commercialization, and two professionals from the MDH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Nancy Carlson, a doctoral student who also works as a behavioral health and community resilience program coordinator, and Tom Garcia, a medical countermeasures planner.

The interactive smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) engages responders in a variety of ways before, during, and after deployments. The personally-customizable tool serves to promote and aid responders’ attention to their own physical, emotional, and social well-being.

High stress – high risk 

Disaster-responders are already a high-risk group for compassion fatigue and – paired with the high-risk nature of fieldwork, itself – they are also at high-risk to become impaired. This puts both providers and the families they serve at risk. A 2016 Survey conducted by the National EMS Management Association (NEMA) described in detail the current needs of the responder community, including a call to action: “There is a significant mental health and wellness problem among the EMS workforce in the United States. Insufficient data exists to fully describe the extent and impact of this problem across the 800,000+ professionals that serve around the clock each day.”

Currently organizations address compassion fatigue during after-action processing and/or debriefing sequences, which do not sufficiently address the personal health and well-being of responders. This gap is partly connected to the cultures of medical education, law-enforcement, and emergency services institutions (e.g., rigid hierarchies between classes and specializations, long working hours, and an ethos that does not support or encourage asking for help or appearing vulnerable).

The risks associated with compassion fatigue have personal consequences for emergency responders, including physical and mental illnesses, relationship stress, and professional consequences for the individuals and families that disaster response personnel serve (ranging from missing important cues, to ineffective teamwork and/or straightforward medical errors).

“The opportunity to use the UMN Responder Self-Care App in real-time – privately or in coordination with assigned team-members – will help responders with self-care during times when doing so is most needed, while also capturing much needed data to support long-term research so crucial in this field,” said Mendenhall.

Early development of the UMN Responder Self-Care App was supported by University of Minnesota: Simulations, Exercises, and Effective Education (U-SEE) funding to investigate the effectiveness of public health preparedness training methods with the goal of developing training models that build system capacity.

Family Social Science makes presence felt at national conference

FSoS Associate Professor Jenifer McGuire opens a session on trans gender youth at NCFR 2017.

 

The hashtag #UMNProud will be a presence  at the National Council on Family Relations’ annual conference in Orlando this week.

Current students (26), faculty and research associates (13) and alumni (25, including a professor emerita) from the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota will be  making presentations, moderating panels, and leading special sections dialogues, as well as discussing their research in poster sessions across the four days of the national meeting.

Their topics span the growing range of family social science research – from transgender youth and young adults in context, to familial and neighborhood influences on obesity,  to military service and its impact on families.  The Department of Family Social Science is among the national leaders advancing theory and practice to improve the well-being of diverse families.

In addition, grad student Samantha LeBouef will pick up her national Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for a paper she  will present at the conference.

The University of Minnesota is also among 18 institutions promoting their family social science departments to potential grad students during University Receptions Thursday evening.

Here’s a selection of graduate student presentations, posters and papers:

Molly White Bailey, Anti-racists Identity Development – poster;

Natasha Bell, Children and Finances in Divorce Decision-making – poster;

Gretchen Buchanan, Conceptualization of What Constitutes a Strong Family – poster;

Sarah Burcher, Work or Family? A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative meaning and value of employment from the perspective of low-income women – presentation;

Daniel Cooper, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families, presentation; and Examining biracial identity development: Key concepts and assumptions – poster;

Lekie Dwanyen, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families – presentation;

Renada Goldberg, Using CPBR in Policy Analysis: Assessing Paid Sick Leave and African Americans – poster;

Heather Hessel, Different Paths: Comparing College-Going and Non-college Youth – poster;

Emily Jordan, Barriers to Rural Mental Health Care: Clinicians’ Perspectives – presentation;

Angela Keyzers, Sensation-seeking and Emerging Adult Online Risk Behavior – presentation;

Samantha LeBouef, Near, Far, Wherever you are: Siblings and Social Media Communication – paper;

Sun-Kyung Lee, Well-Being of Emerging Adults: How Family and Friends Matter – poster;

Na Zhang, Relationships between mindfulness facets and observed anger expression: An actor partner interdependence analysis with post-deployed military families – poster;

Jingchen Zhang, Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as a moderator – poster.

About the conference

The NCFR’s annual conference attracts more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners from across the globe with the goal to highlight research, feature evidence-based best practices and critically examine policies that impact families and communities.

 

 

Family Social Science: It’s all about connections

Family Social Science Professor/ITR Director Abi Gewirtz has collaborated with current and former grad students on a new article for “Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of applied Family Studies,” published by the National Council on Family Relations.

Gewirtz, current FSOS grad student, Na Zhang, and Osnat Zamir, Ph.D., an associate professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have written “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” It is currently available pre-publication at NCFR’s online library.

Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student in Family Social Science, is a native of China and began examining the effects of mindfulness as a master’s degree student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she stood out to Gewirtz, who was there teaching a graduate course in prevention science.

Dr. Gewirtz supervised Zamir’s post-doctoral appointment (2011-2016) in FSoS and ITR where she joined Gewirtz’s ADAPT research project. Zamir had been recommend by Dr. Yoav Lavee, a FSoS alum and CEHD Distinguished International Alumnus Awardee. He is currently is on faculty at the University of Haifa, Israel, where Zamir received her Ph.D. degree. Gewirtz served on the CEHD award committee that honored Dr. Lavee.

Family Social Science focus on: faculty publishing

Family Social Science Professor Catherine Solheim.

Family Social Science faculty members Catherine Solheim and Elizabeth Wieling have collaborated with FSOS Ph.D. candidate Jaime Ballard on the book, “Immigrant and Refugee Families: Global Perspectives on Displacement and Resettlement Experiences,” that gives readers an interdisciplinary perspective on the challenges and resilience of immigrant and refugee families in the U.S.  They address topics such as immigration policy, traumatic stress, domestic violence, and more. It is free and available to download at the U of M Library.

In addition, Solheim is among the contributors to “Teaching Interculturally: A Framework for Integrating Disciplinary Knowledge and Intercultural Development.” Published by Stylus Publishing, the book provides educators a theoretical foundation, practical tools, and process for designing and implementing an intercultural pedagogy. The book is available online.

Gewirtz featured on CEHD Vision 2020 Blog

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz

Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D., Lindahl Leadership professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute for Translational Research, and a professor in the Institute of Child Development, recently was featured  on the CEHD Vision 2020 Blog.

In her post, “Project ADAPT Improves Parental Self-Efficacy and Child Adjustment in Military Families, Gewirtz discusses Project ADAPT, which aims to help military families adjust to regular life after returning from deployment and teaches effective communication strategies between parent and child.

According to the blog, parents who participated in Project ADAPT reported feeling better about their parenting, which in turn leads to improvements in the child’s adjustment. The project has also reduced depression, PTSD symptoms, and thoughts of suicide for the parents involved.

Family Social Science faculty and students storm south for national conference

Nine students in the Department of Family Social Science’s Ph.D. specialization in Couple and Family Therapy are presenting their research at the annual meeting of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy held in Atlanta, GA.

In addition, four FSOS faculty members – Steven Harris, Tai Mendenhall, Lindsey Weiler and Elizabeth Wieling –  will also be presenting and leading workshops and research discussions during the four-day conference.

Students attending include Kadie Ausherbauer, Jackie Braughton, Sarah Crabtree, Daniel Cooper, Lekie Dwanyen, Eugene Hall, Heather Hensel, Aimee Hubbard and Damir Utzran.

Their research represents the breadth of key topics affecting families nationally and internationally including: investigations with Syrian refugees resettled to the United States, local needs assessments conducted with resettled Liberian families, parenting dynamics in a Mexican context, sexual satisfaction and dysfunction and marital separation research.

“Our students are conducting research on critical issues impacting families, especially those affected by social disparities,” said Elizabeth Wieling, associate professor and program director of the Couple and Family Therapy doctoral specialization in Family Social Science. “Each of their studies represent cutting edge work advancing the clinical and implementation fields of research.”

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) represents more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists. The Department of Family Social Science Ph.D. program’s Couple and Family Therapy specialization is among the 20 academic programs accredited by AAMFT in the country.

More about this program

Tai Mendenhall, associate professor in Family Social Science,  addressed the National Institutes of Health’s Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health in August.

Lindsey Weiler, assistant professor in Family Social Science, led a research team gathering data at the Minnesota State Fair.

Graduate students Kadie Ausherbauer and Heather Hensel won a national ethics competition.

Family Social Science Professor Marlene Stum honored

L to right: U of M Extension Senior Associate Dean Brent Hales, Family Social Science Department Head Lynne Borden, Professor Stum, and Extension Dean Beverly Durgan.

 

Professor Marlene Stum was honored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Human Sciences, Inc. (BoHS) Monday. The Board on Human Sciences Awards are annually presented to honor national leaders working to advance human sciences in higher education.

A professor in the Department of Family Social Science and Extension, Stum was the winner of the BoHS 2017 Outstanding Engagement Award. The award recognizes a campus-based or a state-level faculty member with exceptional creativity and scholarship in the development, application, and evaluation of outreach, extension, and public service programs.

Driven by a social justice perspective, Dr. Stum’s research and extension work focuses on improving financial literacy and decision-making in families facing later-in-life issues, including health care directives, transfer of personal property and inheritance decisions. Her scholarship and outreach also focuses on family dynamics and behaviors around long-term care, and her work has contributed to public and private policies impacting the long-term care risks facing the country’s aging population. Stum is an early innovator in the use of technology to increase access to the consumer information materials for various audiences.

More about the BoHS awards

The awards are part of the broader BoHS mission of advancing the intellectual integrity and stature of the human sciences at APLU-member institutions. The awards are aimed at supporting the development and stewardship of academic excellence in human sciences; advocating for visibility and leveraging resources to support human sciences research, extension and teaching programs; and educating leaders regarding the capacity of the human sciences to solve human problems.

 

Gewirtz’s ADAPT program in the news

Abigail Gewirtz, Lindahl Leadership Professor, Dept. of Family Social Science, and Institute for Translational Research in Child Development.

 

Abigail Gewirtz, Lindahl Leadership professor in the Department of Family Social Science and the Institute for Translational Research, was interviewed by WCCO-TV and KSTP-TV about her research program, ADAPT, that supports military families reintegrating following deployment. The unique program provides tools and resources to support positive parenting. A U.S. Department of Defense grant is underwriting  an online version of  ADAPT to serve more military families.

Family Social Science Focus on: Faculty

Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head of Family Social Science. Photo by Julie Michener.

Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head of FSOS, will address the 25th Annual National Symposium on Family Issues hosted by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute, October 23 – 24.

Dworkin is among experts from across the country invited to address the Symposium topic, “Families and Technology,” that will explore how technology is rapidly changing and shaping families and family life. She will present on “Parent’s role in children’s screen time,” and discuss her research that includes the Parenting 2.0 project.

Family Social Science assistant professor’s project awarded seed grant

Asst. Professor Timothy Piehler was awarded a ITR seed grant for the 2017-18 academic year.

Family Social Science Assistant Professor Tim Piehler’s project, “Mindfulness Training for Juvenile Diversion Youth,” has been awarded an Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR)  Collaborative Seed Grant for the 2017-2018 cycle.

The project was awarded $19,985 mico-trial grant to collaborate on an evidence-based intervention with Headway Emotional Health Services, a community mental health agency that provides pre-court juvenile diversion services for youth offenders.

These kinds of trials are an experimental design to determine the effectiveness of an intervention with the understanding that while it may not have the same effect as a full intervention, it will inform the creation of full-scale intervention program. Piehler’s collaboration with Headway will evaluate the ability of mindfulness-based skills training to impact self-control within an adolescent diversion population.

Previous trials of mindfulness training with adults provide preliminary evidence for positive effects on self-control. The proposed research will extend this work to adolescents at risk for the development of conduct disorder and associated criminality.

“Youth conduct problems, such as aggression, defiance, violence, and criminality, represent a major public health concern with substantial costs to individuals, their families, and larger society,” says Piehler. “When these behaviors escalate to the level of conduct disorder, they can be devastating not only to the youth and their families in the form of social and educational failure, but also have a far-reaching impact on mental health and education systems, juvenile justice, and social services.”

While Juvenile diversion programs serve as an important gateway in identifying youth at high risk for escalations in conduct problems, the vast majority of current diversion programming is not evidence-based, in part because there are few programs developed specifically for this population and setting.

The study will involve a randomized trial investigating an evidence-based mindfulness intervention, Learning to Breathe, (LTB) for juvenile diversion-referred youth to learn whether the intervention can help improve their self-control.  The study builds upon an already active research partnership with Headway.

The study will provide critical pilot data for a federal grant submission funding a fully-powered randomized trial. The lack of available evidence-based programs for this unique population represents a substantial area of need for community-based agencies in Minnesota and nationally. With increased availability of such programming, agencies will be able to increase the effectiveness of their services and better divert youth towards prosocial pathways at this critical developmental juncture.

Family Social Science Professor featured in CEHD Connect

Susan Walker, associate professor and director of the Family Social Science’s Parent Education program, is featured in the latest issue of the College of Education + Human Development’s magazine, Connect, for her efforts to expand the education program in Iceland.  The extended online feature details the Iceland-Minnesota exchange.

Learn more

Parent Power, CEHD Connect, June 2015

Family Social Science Focus on: Faculty

Tai Mendenhall, associate professor in Family Social Science,  addressed the National Institutes of Health’s Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health in August. He disussed his award-winning collaborative research project with the American Indian community to effectively manage diabetes through family and community-based approaches. An interview with Mendenhall and his presentation can be viewed on the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health’s YouTube Channel.

Learn more:

Professor’s project awarded Ramsey County Public Health Award

Family Social Science team gathers data at state fair

Amber Anderson gets a fair visitor started on the FSOS team’s survey. Photo by Julie Michener.

 

More than 400 parents and guardians of school aged children were surveyed on how communities can better support children during the Minnesota State Fair.

Assistant Professor Lindsey Weiler, Ph.D., led a Department of Family Social Science team at the new Driven 2 Discover Research Facility three days during the recent fair. They were among 37 teams from the University of Minnesota seeking research participants over the course of the Minnesota State Fair in the D2D facility.

Weiler and her team were collecting data for a research study, “How to Build a 21st Century Village,” and surveyed 425 respondents to gain their insights on the following questions:

  • It might be true that it takes a village to raise a child, but what does that look like in 2017?
  • How do parents connect their children to other caring role models or mentors?
  • What do parents do when they move to a new community or live away from extended family?
  • How can parents unlock the power of community when raising children?

“We were looking for State Fair visitors to help us understand how today’s parents build a village of safe and supportive family, friends, and neighbors,” says Weiler. “I was very happy with the turnout and received positive feedback from fairgoers. The students had a great experience too!”

Seven students assisted Weiler over the three days, including three Family Social Science graduate students, Angela Keyzers, Vaida Kazlauskaite, and Sarah Burcher, and four undergraduate students, Family Social Science Majors Ka Lor and Amberson Anderson, Psychology Major Koisey Hiama, and Urban Studies Major Sarah Hill.

Next steps include analyzing the data to understand parents’ experiences of building their own villages and making important connections for their children, and then developing an intervention for parents seeking mentors for their children.

2017 ITR Seed Grants Announced

We are excited to announce the recipients of the 2017 Collaborative Seed Grant Program. These grants — $20,000 or less with a one-year time frame — support small research projects that advance the use of evidence-based practices in addressing pressing issues for children’s mental health. Each project partners with community organizations in Minnesota.  The goal of the program is to kickstart innovative ideas that have a likely chance of becoming larger, sustained research projects with external funding to improve mental health outcomes among Minnesota’s children.

Our mission at the Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) is to advance quality research, train practitioners in evidence-based practices, and disseminate information to help bridge the gap between research and practice in our field.

Mindfulness Training for Juvenile Diversion Youth

Community Principal Investigator: Hal Pickett, Director of Client Services, Headway Emotional Health Services

ITR Principal Investigator: Timothy Piehler, Assistant Professor, UMN Department of Family Social Science

This exciting project aims to reduce conduct disorder among adolescents in juvenile justice diversion programs. The study seeks to adapt a mindfulness-focused intervention called Learning to Breathe for this audience in order to improve adolescent self control. The project will use an experimental design known as a “microtrial” to gauge specific effects of the intervention, which could be a precursor to a full randomized control trial.

Excerpt from the abstract:

“Juvenile diversion programs serve as an important gateway in identifying youth at high risk for escalations in conduct problems. However, the vast majority of diversion programming currently being provided is not evidence-based, in part because there are few evidence-based programs developed specifically for this population and setting…The proposed research seeks to innovate conduct disorder prevention in the context of juvenile diversion through several strategies…The proposed microtrial will evaluate the ability of mindfulness-based skills training to impact self-control within an adolescent diversion population. …

The proposed research project represents a collaboration between a University of Minnesota research team and Headway Emotional Health Services, a community mental health agency that provides pre-court juvenile diversion services for youth offenders. The study will involve a randomized trial investigating an evidence-based mindfulness intervention (Learning to Breathe; LTB) for juvenile diversion-referred youth.”

Read the full abstract here.

Foundational Research for a Parenting Mobile App with Biofeedback for Latine Parents

Community Principal Investigator: Roxana Linares, Executive Director, Centro Tyrone Guzman and Veronica Svetaz, Medical Director, Aqui Para Ti

ITR Principal Investigator: Jennifer Doty, Postdoctoral Fellow, UMN Department of Pediatrics

This project will build and test a mobile app version of Padres Informados, a skills-based parenting intervention for Latine immigrants. The work will lay the groundwork for a robust app that includes wearable technology to provide biofeedback to parents as they go through the program.

Excerpt from the abstract:

“The long-term goal of this research is to reduce depression, anxiety, and substance use among Latino adolescents through a mobile application with parenting content and personal biofeedback. The goal of this proposal is to build and test a baseline mobile application with a skills-based parenting curriculum for Latine immigrants, Padres Informados. …

The first aim is to build the baseline application and test the prototype that has already been developed in interviews with 20-30 parents who completed an earlier survey. … The second aim is to assess the functionality of the baseline mobile app and the acceptability of using a wearable.

The mobile app will have the potential of increasing community accessibility to evidence-based parenting programs and enhancing existing delivery of the program by providing mobile supplementary information and goal tracking capabilities.”

Read the full abstract here.