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Thursday, November 12th

 

Mental Health
I. Assessment of Connecticut's Readiness and Capacity to Implement Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Activities

II. Using Union Supported Interventions to Address the Mental Health of Correctional Employees

In-Home Environmental Health

I. Qualitative Methodology from the Home Air Filtration For Traffic-Related Air Pollution (HAFTRAP) Study

II. Lighting Your Life: Keeping Older Adults Engaged in Life 

Mental Health


I. Assessment of Connecticut's Readiness and Capacity to Implement Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Activities

Abstract: The Community Readiness Survey (CRS) is a biennial key informant (KI) survey, conducted by DMHAS and partners to measure community-level attitudes, capacity, and readiness to implement behavioral health prevention/health promotion activities. In response to DMHAS’ 2018 integration of regional mental health (MH) and substance misuse planning, the CRS was expanded to assess MH and suicide attitudes, concerns, and readiness. 2020 survey expansion included: issues of community concern; community support for and perceived barriers to prevention; and ratings of community readiness. 1243 KIs, representing 166 Connecticut towns and 17 community sectors, responded to the survey, of which 15.2% were MH providers. Data were weighted using 2018 town population estimates, and analyzed using SPSS 26. According to KIs, the MH issue of greatest community concern differed by age group. For 26-65 and 65+, depression was the MH issue of greatest concern (65% and 86% respectively). Anxiety was the greatest issue for youth 12-17 (59%), with anxiety (38%) and depression (42%) of greatest concern for young adults 18-25. The greatest barrier, endorsed by 58% of KIs, was lack of financial resources to address MH promotion. The greatest asset, endorsed by 50% of KIs, was the availability of leadership. The expanded data provide an important baseline assessment of Connecticut’s state and regional readiness to address mental health and suicide, and will support planning and prevention/health promotion efforts going forward. 

Presenters: Jennifer Sussman, MFA, Janice Vendetti, MPH, Alyssa Gilbert, MPH, and Jane Ungemack, DrPH; UConn Health, Department of Public Health Sciences 

Presenters’ Biographies: Jennifer Sussman is a Research Associate with the UConn Health Department of Public Health Sciences. Over her 29-year career, Jennifer has worked in health services research, and specifically substance misuse prevention and treatment, working closely with Connecticut’s state agencies to evaluate their federally funded initiatives. She has worked extensively with DMHAS’ prevention initiatives over the past decade. She has also supported the implementation of several students, youth-at-risk, and community key informant surveys. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Trinity College, Hartford, CT, and an MFA in Writing from Goddard College, Plainfield, VT. Ms. Sussman is currently the Coordinator of the DMHAS Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES) at UConn Health, the prevention data and evaluation resource center funded by the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). 

Ms. Vendetti has 25 years of experience working as Data Manager, Analyst, and Evaluator on numerous projects, primarily focused on; demonstrating the effectiveness of screening and brief intervention for at-risk substance use in various health care settings; substance misuse treatment effectiveness; and program implementation. She is currently serving as the evaluator on the CDC-funded SBIRT implementation program within Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and the SAMHSA-funded Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Grant with Community Mental Health Affiliates in Central Connecticut. She provides data analytic support for several other initiatives including the DMHAS Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES) at UConn Health, the CT Family Stability Pay for Success Project, and the Social Determinants of Academic Success - A New Assessment Process to Foster Inclusion in the Learning Environment and Student Wellness. 

Alyssa Gilbert holds a B.S. in Health Science Studies from Quinnipiac University and completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a focus in substance misuse. She currently works at the UConn Health Department of Public Health Sciences as a research assistant for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Center for Prevention Evaluation and Statistics (CPES) and SAMHSA’s Partnership for Success 2015 initiative. Alyssa supports all aspects of the work of CPES and PFS 2015, utilizing her strong data management skills to update and maintain data, analyzing and summarizing data using ATLAS.ti and ARC GIS, and conducting literature reviews. She also assists in the development of presentations and reports.

II. Using Union Supported Interventions to Address the Mental Health of Correctional Employees

Abstract: Labor unions are important social institutions that can uncover social determinants of health, decrease disparities in working populations, and ensure that workplaces protect and promote worker safety, health and well-being. In 2019, a Connecticut state prison employee union partnered with researchers from the UConn based Health Improvement Through Employee Control III study to form a union-supported Design Team (DT) consisting of a group of correctional personnel. This DT developed interventions addressing the mental health of correctional employees. METHOD The DT used the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) Intervention Design and Analysis Scorecard (IDEAS) tool to identify root-causes of correctional employees’ mental health. The DT ranked intervention priorities and designed interventions to address identified root-causes. RESULTS The DT identified the following root-causes to mental health of correctional employees: inconsistency in report writing, lack of workplace career support and mentoring, role ambiguity, work interruptions, trauma exposure, hypervigilance, physical building conditions, race and gender discrimination, and work schedule demands. Through priority ranking, the DT identified the following intervention areas: 1). improving report writing, 2). creating a facility training officer program, and 3). reducing trauma exposure through training and education. CONCLUSION Union and researcher partnership can improve working conditions for employees by empowering workers to address inequalities in health and develop interventions at the interpersonal, institutional, community and policy levels. 

Presenters: Sara Namazi, PhD, M.S., Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, UConn Health Center and Stanquinto Sudduth, B.S., Northeastern Department of Correction  

Presenters’ Biographies: Sara Namazi has a PhD in public health and works as a post doc at UConn Health in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She also has a graduate certificate in occupational health psychology. Her primary research interests include occupational health psychology and using community-based participatory research techniques to address occupational health disparities. Additionally, she is interested in the adverse effects of work-family conflict, extended and irregular work hours, and trauma exposure at work on workers mental and physical health. Her previous work focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of an indoor air quality intervention for correctional employees, as well as a healthy sleep intervention program for correctional supervisors in Connecticut Department of Correction. She also serves as a co-facilitator of a Design Team of correctional supervisor union members in Connecticut, whose goal is to improve the health and working conditions of the correctional supervisor population in Connecticut through community-based participatory action research techniques. Moreover, she is the advisor for a Design Team of correctional officer union representatives working to reduce the mental health stressors of correctional employees in Connecticut. Sara also serves as the Data Manager on the RETAIN-CT project and will assist in data management, collection and program evaluation.  

In-Home Environmental Health


I. Qualitative Methodology from the Home Air Filtration For Traffic-Related Air Pollution (HAFTRAP) Study 

Abstract: There is convincing evidence that living close to major roadways and highways is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. A widely used approach to reducing the risk of living near sources of motor vehicle exhaust is to install air filtration indoors. There is a need to carefully evaluate the health benefits of in-home air filtration as it becomes widespread. Although air filtration has been shown to reduce PM (including 
UFP) levels from traffic indoors in both schools and homes, there is little empirical evidence of efficacy of indoor air filtration at reducing health risks from traffic-related air pollution. Our study, the Home Air Filtration For Traffic-Related Air Pollution (HAFTRAP) Study, aims are to test the effect of HEPA filtration on markers of cardiovascular risk for adults who live near urban highways in Somerville, MA, and to assess whether the intervention succeeded or failed in participant homes. We will highlight the qualitative methodology used to collect data from a subset of study participants to assess via focus groups their acceptance or problems with having the intervention air filters in their homes. We will also interview households to determine acceptability of the actual intervention, specifically the extent to which participants 1). were satisfied with the intervention; 2). followed intervention protocols; and 3). changed their activities during the intervention. 

Presenters: Shir Lerman Ginzburg, PhD, MPH, UConn Health, Linda Sprague Martinez, PhD, Boston University, and Doug Brugge, PhD, UConn Health  

Presenters’ Biographies: Shir Lerman is a Research Fellow in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UConn Health. Linda Sprague is an Associate Professor and Chair of Macro Work in Social Work at Boston University. Doug Brugge is a Professor and Department Chair of Public Health Sciences at UConn Health.

II. Lighting Your Life: Keeping Older Adults Engaged in Life 

Abstract: Age-related changes in vision impact older adults’ abilities to perform meaningful activities that keep them productively engaged in life. The International Illuminating Society estimates that older adults need three to four times the illumination levels of younger individuals. However, lighting levels in the homes of older adults are significantly lower than recommended guidelines despite cost-effective lighting options.  The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of improved home lighting on older adults’ functional vision and quality of life, defined as near visual activities (hobbies, reading, self-care), role performance, and psychosocial wellbeing. Forty-two older adults living independently in the community participated in this quasi-experimental research study. Older adults received a lighting intervention and completed pre/post-tests using the MN Read Card and NIH Toolbox Vision-Targeted Health-Related Quality of Life Survey. The lighting intervention involved identifying participants’ preferred level of lighting for one home area using the Lux IQ and providing them with a task light adjusted to their preferred level of illumination. Results indicated that the task light significantly improved functional vision (reading acuity, reading speed, and critical print size) and quality of life for Near Visual activities and Role Performance. Changes in Psychosocial aspects of quality of life were not significant. In conclusion, a low-cost, task lighting intervention may provide opportunities for older adults to remain engaged in meaningful activities and roles as they age.

Presenter: Martha Sanders, PhD, MSOSH, OTR/L CPE FAOTA, Quinnipiac University 

Presenter's Biography: Sanders is a Certified Professional Ergonomist and Occupational Therapist who has conducted community-based research with older adults for over two decades. Her research focuses on health promotion strategies for older adults in the community. She teaches ergonomics courses that include the impact of environmental lighting on human performance, particularly aging. She has completed credentialed lighting training and continuing education courses on Lighting and Health from Ledvance Sylvania and the RPI Lighting Research Center, with whom she is partnering to perform further lighting and health studies. The presentation is based on a 3-year research study on home lighting for older adults.

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