Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:
Christine Ma-Kellams, Flora Or, Ji Hyun Baek, and Ichiro Kawachi
Google search information is increasingly used by researchers to study public health behavior, but how do data collected from Google compare with more traditional measures of health? The researchers analyzed suicide-related search terms entered into Google between 2008 and 2009 from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, comparing them with questions related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors taken from the U.S. nationally representative National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Google search data were a better estimator of suicide death outcomes than the traditional data collected from the nationally representative survey. Both types of measures were found to be the least accurate for states with more minorities, lower income, and higher crime rates. This finding highlights the use of Google data for understanding health behavior and for informing suicide-prevention efforts.
Michael Witthöft, Tobias Kerstner, Julia Ofer, Daniela Mier, Fred Rist, Carsten Diener, and Josef Bailer
Researchers have hypothesized that multiple cognitive biases simultaneously contribute to pathological health anxiety (the unfounded fear that one suffers from a health problem); however, existing research in this area has suffered from problems such as small non-clinical samples and the use of limited methodology. The researchers resolved these issues by examining a large group of participants who had pathological health anxiety, depression, or no disorder. Participants completed four different tasks used to assess cognitive and emotional processes related to the processing of health-related information (an emotional Stroop task, an implicit association task, a recognition task, and a pictorial task of affective evaluation). In support of the hypothesis, participants with pathological health anxiety showed stronger attention bias to health-related information, negative explicit evaluations of health threats, and biased responses to health threats compared with participants without pathological health anxiety.
Richard A. Bryant, Alexander C. McFarlane, Derrick Silove, Meaghan L. O’Donnell, David Forbes, and Mark Creamer
Although researchers have examined how a current diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects functioning, fewer studies have examined whether people continue to experience impairment after PTSD has resolved. Traumatically injured patients were assessed for PTSD and depression (3 and 12 months after injury) and quality of life in four domains: psychological, physical, social, and environmental (during initial hospitalization and 3 and 12 months after injury). The researchers found that, even after controlling for pretrauma functioning, pain, and depression, people who recovered from PTSD continued to experience poorer quality of life compared with those who had not experienced PTSD, indicating that PTSD can have lingering effects on people even after remission.