ACA, Violence, and Social Networks: Annual Review of Public Health Volume 38

We are pleased to remind everyone that the 2017 volume of the Annual Review of Public Health, now online, is published open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. This influential content is now freely available to read, reuse, and share. Additionally, all 37 back volumes (1980-2016) are now free to read. Support for this initiative to increase openness and transparency in research is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are a few content highlights for your reading pleasure:

There is still a lot of debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and I recommend the article “The Affordable Care Act’s Impacts on Access to Insurance and Health Care for Low-Income Populations” by Kominski, Nonzee, and Sorensen as interesting background reading.  I was particularly interested in the discussion about the people who are still uninsured, and struck by the geographical implications:

Almost 90% of all adults in the coverage gap live in the South, half in either Texas or Florida, which aligns with this region’s high uninsurance rates, limited Medicaid eligibility, and low uptake of Medicaid expansion (37). Consistent with demographic characteristics and policies excluding nondisabled adults in states that did not expand Medicaid, African Americans and childless adults also account for a disproportionate share of individuals in the coverage gap.

Another article that demanded my attention is “Climate Change and Collective Violence” by Levy, Sidel, and Patz.  When people talk about the effects of climate change they mostly focus on sea levels and food harvests, but take things a couple of steps further and one of the things you can see is increased violence.  Some of the conclusions addressed in this article are quite startling:

Studying conflict in sub-Saharan Africa between 1981 and 2002, Burke and colleagues found a significant association between warmer temperature and civil war. On the basis of their findings, they projected an approximately 54% increase in armed conflict in Africa by 2030, with an additional 393,000 battle-related deaths, assuming wars in the future are as deadly as recent wars.

It’s a complicated and well written article that also addresses some ways of preventing this violence.  It’s on the top of my reading list.

pu38-social networksAnother article on my famed reading list is Valente and Pitts’ article, “An Appraisal of Social Network Theory and Analysis as Applied to Public Health: Challenges and Opportunities.”  What drew my interest here was the section about research being done around social media and the Internet’s effect on health:

The evidence suggests that mediated communications can influence individual behaviors but they do so at a rate much lower than face-to-face communications do (37). Still, people can have hundreds, even thousands or more, of online contacts, which increases the potential for much influence. Moreover, some forms of mediated communications may be particularly influential. For example, specialty communities that emerge in forums such as PatientsLikeMe may be very influential because they offer a place where people can share information about extremely important and relevant topics among members of a specific community.

Of course anytime someone is doing research in social media it raises ethics and privacy concerns which the article also addresses as a problem that needs close review.  For instance this troubling case:

In a similarly publicized study, Kramer and others (48) used Facebook as a social psychology laboratory and manipulated users’ Facebook News Feeds to induce negative or positive affect to study the social contagion of emotions. Facebook users did not provide overt consent to participate in the study, and many felt that their rights were violated (35). Furthermore, participants of in-person experimental studies are often debriefed when their study participation has concluded to reduce the likelihood that the study’s manipulations and procedures caused harm, yet no such debriefing was performed in this study.

So as usual Public Health provides much food for thought and interesting weekend reading!

Recruitment, Ostracism, and Brain Scans: Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior

Browse all the articles in the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Volume 4.

Recently, a lot of media attention has focused on how technology businesses recruit, and retain, members of disadvantaged groups.  In the turbulent wake of the immigration ban, there has been renewed discussion about hiring immigrants and those from other cultures.  I  was glad to see authors David Allen & James Vardaman addressing some of these issues in “Recruitment and Retention Across Cultures.”  The article looks at how companies recruit workers and how that process is affected by different cultures. They also discuss how these different cultures face the challenge of assembling a diverse workforce:

Firms tend to (sometimes unintentionally) create barriers in the recruitment process by emphasizing job requirements that disadvantage immigrants (e.g., local experience), making negative assumptions (e.g., assuming immigrants have greater family responsibilities), or failing to appreciate immigrant credentials and skills. Additional research is needed to assess how recruitment policies affect immigrant recruitment, evidence that recruitment firms are more open to recruiting immigrants, the efficacy of developing immigrant networks, and the possibility that perceived skills shortages are a function of undervaluing immigrant credentials and skills.

Other research focuses on how differences in national culture affect the implementation of diversity recruitment initiatives. For example, Moore (2015) suggests that managers and employees hold culturally based native categories as to appropriate work roles related to gender. Thus, in a case study, a diversity initiative driven by a German parent company to increase the recruitment of women factory workers did not export as intended to a British context. The author concluded that effective diversity recruitment across cultures requires not only a recognition that cultural differences exist, but also an understanding of how practices and their meanings are recontextualized from one cultural context to another.

I learned a lot of new things from “Comparing and Contrasting Workplace Ostracism and Incivility” by D. Lance Ferris, Meng Chen & Sandy Lim.  While I have read a lot about workplace harassment, I hadn’t seen research about incivility and ostracism before.

Workplace incivility has been defined as a subtype of workplace mistreatment that is characterized by low-intensity social interactions that violate workplace norms of respect and yet are ambiguous as to whether they are meant to harm the target of the incivility. As this definition implies, there are three important characteristics associated with uncivil behaviors: their violation of norms, their ambiguity with respect to the hostile intent, and their general low intensity. Typical examples of uncivil behaviors at work that meet these three criteria include making demeaning comments to another individual, interrupting someone, and not speaking to—or ostracizing—someone. Such behaviors are typically viewed as rude and falling short of people’s commonly held expectations for mutual respect at work.

The article also deals with ostracism, “which includes behaviors such as being avoided at work, being shut out of conversations, or having one’s greetings go unanswered at work.” That seems horrible and makes me even more appreciative of my work colleagues who make a point of saying hello even when I’m walking the hallways with my headphones on.

orgpsych-waldmanAnother article that sparked my imagination is “Neuroscience in Organizational Behavior” by David Waldman, MK Ward & William Becker, which made me wonder if team-building exercises would be more enjoyable if followed by a brain scan instead of a questionnaire.  It turns out that the interviews and questions aren’t giving the level of data that other options might:

following a team process, a common practice of researchers is to get team members’ impressions of what the team process was about. Aside from recollection challenges on the part of team members, such assessment assumes an overall quality regarding a team process, rather than allowing for fluid or momentary shifts. As Waldman et al. (2015b) have argued and shown, qEEG neurosensing methods allow for more precise, momentary assessment of team processes and emergent states. In contrast, survey methods are not highly practical for assessing shifts in team processes or emergent states because of the interruption that would be caused. Moreover, although observation could be feasible, it is questionable whether observers can accurately assess phenomena such as team arousal or engagement, whereas neurosensing methods may be able to overcome such challenges”

I’d love to hear what you found interesting in this volume—the comments are open!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application, Volume 4

Investigate the full table of contents for Volume 4 of the Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application.

st4-fingerprintOne topic I’ve been tracking for a while is addressed by Stern’s article “Statistical Issues in Forensic Science.”  In the past decade, there have been many challenges to accepted forensic science—such as fingerprint analysis. Fingerprints are used by the author to demonstrate how statistical methods could be used to address current problems:

Another concern expressed in the 2009 NRC report is whether the forensic practitioner community has a full appreciation of the role of uncertainty in forensic examinations. For many years (through the early 2000s), it was common for latent print examiners to support a claimed identification by noting that the process they followed had zero error rate. Another popular claim was that the source of a print was identified to the exclusion of all other people that had ever lived or ever would live. Those who work in scientific disciplines and appreciate the role of uncertainty know that such claims are not credible. Recent studies have demonstrated a low but nonzero misidentification error rate for latent fingerprint examiners. In other forensic disciplines, it is common to have examiners testify to a “reasonable degree of scientific certainty.” This language was recently criticized by the NCFS because it does not have a standard definition and might confuse or mislead jurors (NCFS 2016).

Jeffrey T. Leek & Leah R. Jager tackle another much discussed topic in their article “Is Most Published Research Really False?” This has been a concern in many fields for the past several years, and because a lot of the discussion has involved some high-level statistics, I was very glad to find more information from this perspective. The introduction is especially good at laying out some of the possible concerns:

But this system was invented before modern computing, data generation, scientific software, email, the Internet, and social media. Each of these inventions has placed strain on the scientific publication infrastructure. These modern developments have happened during the careers of practicing scientists. Many laboratory leaders received their training before the explosion of cheap data generation, before the widespread use of statistics and computing, and before there was modern data analytic infrastructure. At the same time, there has been increasing pressure from review panels, hiring committees, and funding agencies to publish positive and surprising results in the scientific literature. These trends have left scientists with a nagging suspicion that some fraction of published results are at minimum exaggerated and at worst outright false.

Statistics articles ripped from the headlines? We have one! For example, Dwork et al.’s article “Exposed! A Survey of Attacks on Private Data” offers an introduction to an interesting facet of the privacy discussion: How do we use information publicly while protecting a sensitive dataset:

We focus on the simple scenario in which there is a dataset x containing sensitive information, and the goal is to release statistics about the dataset to the public. These statistics may be fixed in advance or may be chosen by the analyst, who queries the dataset. Speaking intuitively (because we have not yet defined privacy), the goal in privacy-preserving data analysis is to protect the privacy of the individual records in the dataset, even if the analyst maliciously chooses queries according to an attack strategy designed to compromise privacy.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Cancer Biology – now available online

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, the 47th in our collection of highly cited review journals. It seems appropriate to focus on Cancer Research, a field that is deeply linked to the investigation of central themes in the life sciences, during our 85th year of service to the research community. It is also a natural fit for the interdisciplinary coverage of our portfolio of existing journals.

Co-Editors Dr. Tyler Jacks (Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT) and Dr. Charles L. Sawyers (Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering) said:

“Cancer Biology covers a wide range of disciplines that are converging to provide a deep understanding of the cancer cell and the various biological and physiological processes that contribute to tumor initiation and progression. These advances—coupled with the application of an increasing array of powerful technologies—have paved the way for the development of numerous new medicines that are greatly benefiting cancer patients.”

Annual Review of Cancer Biology cover icon

Their introduction to the first volume summarizes the goals of this new publication. The first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology contains more than twenty reviews that address the basic mechanisms of cancer development and the translation to therapeutic strategies today and in the future. The journal scope includes three broad themes to cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly moving cancer biology field: Cancer Cell Biology, Tumorigenesis and Cancer Progression, and Translational Cancer Science.

The first volume also contains a review by Dr. Harold Varmus (Weill Cornell Medical College) entitled How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology (published Open Access). Dr. Sawyers expanded, “Cancer research has become deeply linked to investigation of the central themes in the life sciences. Dr. Varmus’s work has been important to the evolution of our interdisciplinary science.”

Tyler Jacks, MIT.

Dr. Jacks is also involved in the Cancer Moonshot, where he serves as the Scientific Panel Co-Chair. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden updated attendees of SXSW on March 12th with progress of the Moonshot. To learn more about Dr. Jacks’ dedication to cancer research, check out his presentation at TEDxCambridge: Tyler Jacks (Life lessons from 34 years of fighting cancer.)

Charles L. Sawyers, MSKCC.

Dr. Sawyers is involved in Stand up to Cancer, a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research and quickly provide patients with access to new therapies in the hope of saving lives. He is the co-leader of the Scientific Research Dream Team on Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.

This journal is now available online (March 6th, 2017). If you are a journalist, writer, or blogger who wants access to this and/or other Annual Reviews journals, please email us. The official Press Release is available in our Press Center.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.