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Social networking can spread a positive message and influence positive behavior. A study of 56 New Jersey middle school students reveals that students with a strong social influence can significantly reduce bullying in their schools. "When adults choose student leaders, they typically pick the 'good' kids. But the leaders we find through social network mapping are influential among students and are not all the ones who would be selected by adults. Some of the students we find are right smack in the center of student conflicts. But the point is, these are the students whose behavior gets noticed more," said Elizabeth Levy Paluck, associate professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University and study author.

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Over the 2012-2013 academic year, schools with students promoting the antibullying messages had a 30% drop in reports of student conflicts; schools with the largest numbers of social influencers had the largest declines in student conflict.


"We designed our own curriculum because current programs address problems as defined by adults, and they aren't necessarily fitted to each individual school environment," said Paluck. The students may not have been the most popular, but they held influence within their peer groups.


Using a method of social network mapping, study authors identified the teens with the most connections. Teens were asked to spread messages about the dangers of bullying and talk about positive ways of handling conflict. These antibullying messages were promoted through methods such as Instagram, print posters, and colorful wristbands.-Princeton University, News Release, 1/4/2016



Researchers at University of California, Davis wondered if visits between patients and with family and friends could significantly reduce anxiety levels. As the popularity of applications like Skype and FaceTime have increased, more patients use these apps to communicate with family and friends. UC Davis Children's Hospital developed the Family-Link program, which provides patients with laptops, webcams, and secure Internet connections.


UC Davis professor and researcher James Marcin states, "To understand Family-Link's impact on anxiety levels, our team studied 367 children, 232 who took advantage of the teleconferencing service and 135 who did not. They used the Parent-Guardian Stress Survey to assess the children's anxiety levels, both at admission and discharge. The survey included four question groups centered on each child's behavior and emotions, staff communication, sight and sounds, and the child's appearance. Parents/guardians were asked whether the child exhibited a variety of behaviors, such as being demanding, frightened, angry or confused."


Children who used Family-Link experienced a greater reduction in stress than children who did not use the video link. For children living close to the hospital and with shorter stays, a 37% stress reduction was noted when using Family-Link.- Accessed 1/8/2016



The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) recently released a comprehensive six-hour training video-AFA Partners in Care: Supporting Individuals Living with Dementia-that can help nurses and other professionals expand their professional skills.


"Nurses and nurse practitioners are often the first point of contact for the growing number of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their families," said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA's president and CEO. "It is critically important that today's healthcare professionals are cognizant of the specific considerations involved in caring for individuals with dementia, and we are proud to offer this training tool to help professionals further develop their skills."


Today's healthcare providers need more than a basic understanding of dementia care to make a positive difference in the quality of life for people with dementia and their families. A shift has occurred in the culture of dementia care that is person-centered, valuing the uniqueness of each individual. This philosophy involves interdisciplinary collaboration, and places individuals with dementia and their families at the center of decision-making processes to ensure care plans reflect their needs and preferences. Such thinking is critical to promoting wellness and health and improving the delivery of dementia care across the board.


Participants who complete the training can take an exam to demonstrate their proficiency in the subject matter and become an AFA-Certified Dementia Care Partner. Topics include:


* Building relationships


* Alzheimer's disease and dementia basics


* Effective communication


* Understanding behaviors as communication


* Facilitating personal care


* Promoting safety and security


* Easing care transitions


* Supporting individuals during death and dying


* The importance of professional self-care



See for more information about the new training program.-Alzheimer's Foundation of America Press Release, 1/6/2016.



Some things, like mental health, are rarely discussed in the workplace. And, although there's more to health than physical well-being, companies often fall short on the mental health front.


"Mental health in the workplace is neglected and rarely, if ever, addressed. Essentially, we don't take mental health as seriously as we take our physical well-being," says Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the chair of the psychiatry department at Columbia NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.


There is some change in motion by recognizing that employees' emotions affect their productivity. Some companies offer opportunities for their workers to participate in yoga and meditation. Others provide full fitness centers or wellness counseling. However, those are environmental changes. Culturally, we have a hard time with the clinical side of mental health because of stigma. "What doesn't get addressed [by companies] is the more medical side of mental health," according to Lieberman. There's little support at work for employees who struggle or are susceptible to mental illness. It is estimated that 10% to 30% of U.S. workers wrestle with some form of mental illness. With these kinds of statistics, it is probable that most workplaces have some employees who need mental health support. Yet "it's the third rail of HR [human resources]; nobody wants to go there," says Lieberman.


Governmental support is lacking, as well. Worker's compensation claims allow employees to get monetary support when they're injured on the job. However, not all states cover mental health issues, not even very serious ones. This becomes even more important for professionals who have intensely stressful jobs, like firefighters, policemen, or healthcare providers.


"Many of our first responders are dealing with addiction and post-traumatic stress or some other form of mental health issues," says Peggy Sweeney, who started her own organization, the Sweeney Alliance (, to help counsel first responders and their families. "Unfortunately, many departments don't offer any type of help to these people."- Accessed 1/14/2016



"Physical, emotional, and spiritual sacrifice are inevitable in the nursing profession. However, the rewards are incredible! Something as simple as the words 'thank you' from a patient is all that it takes to keep us going. And, on occasion, there are the most special of times when a wife of your patient finds you in Starbucks six years after you cared for her dying husband and tells you that 'you were his angel disguised in a nurse's uniform.' Those are the moments that all the sacrificial service you provide seems miniscule, but so worth it!"-From Created and Called to Care: A Journey to and through Nursing by Chelsia Harris, 2015, New Leaf Press, Green Forest, AR


-PulseBeats compiled by Cathy Walker