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Publication analysis on insomnia: how much has been done in the past two decades?

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Publication analysis on insomnia: how much has been done in the past two decades?
Source: Sleep Medicine

Insomnia has been a rising public concern in recent years. As one example of a multidisciplinary topic, the theme of insomnia research has gradually shifted over time; however, there is very little quantitative characterization of the research trends in insomnia. The current study aims to quantitatively analyze trends in insomnia publications for the past 20 years. We retrospectively analyzed insomnia-related publications retrieved from PubMed and Google Scholar between 1994 and 2013, and to analyze insomnia-related publications from different perspectives. We investigated the major areas of research focus for insomnia, journal characteristics, as well as trends in clinical management and treatment modalities. The resulting 5,841 publications presented an exponential growth trend over the past two decades, with mean annual growth rates at nearly 10% for each publication type. Analysis of major research focuses indicated that depression, hypnotics and sedatives, questionnaires, and polysomnography are the most common topics at present. Furthermore, we found that while studies on drug therapy and adverse effects decreased in the most recent 5 years, the greatest expansion of insomnia publications were in the areas of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and alternative therapies. Collectively, insomnia publications present a continuous trend of increase. While sedative and hypnotic drugs dominated the treatment of insomnia, non-pharmacological therapies may have great potential for advancement in future years. Future research effort is warranted for novel tools and clinical trials, especially on insomnia treatments with inadequate evidence or not-yet-clear efficacy and side effects.

An Examination of Risky Drinking Behaviors and Motivations for Alcohol Use in a College Sample

March 30, 2015 Comments off

An Examination of Risky Drinking Behaviors and Motivations for Alcohol Use in a College Sample
Source: Journal of American College Health

Objective:
The current study examined (1) drinking motives as a mediator of risky drinking behaviors (ie, pregaming and drinking games) and alcohol-related problems and (2) whether gender moderates the association between risky drinking behaviors and negative consequences. Participants: Participants (N = 368; 68% female) were drinkers aged 18 to 25. Data were collected from September to November 2010 and January to May 2011.

Methods:
Participants completed measures regarding typical pregaming and drinking game alcohol consumption, drinking motives, and alcohol-related consequences.

Results:
Social, coping, and enhancement motives partially explained relationships, with enhancement motives explaining the most variance for pregaming (31%) and drinking games (44%). Relationships between risky drinking and consequences were not moderated by gender.

Conclusions:
Drinking to enhance positive affect may be the most salient motivation for drinking related to pregaming and drinking games for college drinkers. Findings have implications for interventions tailored to students engaging in various heavy drinking practices.

Comparison of Two Watch Schedules for Personnel at the White House Military Office President’s Emergency Operations Center

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Comparison of Two Watch Schedules for Personnel at the White House Military Office President’s Emergency Operations Center
Source: Human Factors

Objective
The aim of this study was to assess effectiveness of an alternative, 24-hr-on/72-hr-off watchstanding schedule on sleep and morale of personnel assigned to the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Background
As part of the White House Military Office, PEOC personnel historically worked a 12-hr “Panama” watch schedule. Personnel reported experiencing chronic insufficient and disrupted sleep patterns and sought advice for improving their watchstanding schedule.

Method
Participants (N = 14 active-duty military members, ages 29 to 42 years) completed the Profile of Mood State (POMS) three times: before, during, and after switching to the alternative schedule with 5-hr sleep periods built into their workday. Participants completed a poststudy questionnaire to assess individual schedule preferences. Sleep was measured actigraphically, supplemented by activity logs.

Results
As indicated by POMS scores, mood improved significantly on the new schedule. Although average total sleep amount did not change substantively, the timing of sleep was more consistent on the new schedule, resulting in better sleep hygiene. PEOC personnel overwhelmingly preferred the new schedule, reporting not only that they felt more rested but that the new schedule was more conducive to the demands of family life.

Conclusions
Demands of family life and time spent commuting were found to be critical factors for acceptance of the alternative schedule. This new schedule will be most effective if personnel adhere to the scheduled rest periods assigned during their 24-hr duty.

Application
A successful schedule should avoid conflicts between social life and operational demands. Results may lead to changes in the work schedules of other departments with similar 24/7 responsibilities.

OpenStreetCab: Exploiting Taxi Mobility Patterns in New York City to Reduce Commuter Costs

March 29, 2015 Comments off

OpenStreetCab: Exploiting Taxi Mobility Patterns in New York City to Reduce Commuter Costs
Source: arXiv.org

The rise of Uber as the global alternative taxi operator has attracted a lot of interest recently. Aside from the media headlines which discuss the new phenomenon, e.g. on how it has disrupted the traditional transportation industry, policy makers, economists, citizens and scientists have engaged in a discussion that is centred around the means to integrate the new generation of the sharing economy services in urban ecosystems. In this work, we aim to shed new light on the discussion, by taking advantage of a publicly available longitudinal dataset that describes the mobility of yellow taxis in New York City. In addition to movement, this data contains information on the fares paid by the taxi customers for each trip. As a result we are given the opportunity to provide a first head to head comparison between the iconic yellow taxi and its modern competitor, Uber, in one of the world’s largest metropolitan centres. We identify situations when Uber X, the cheapest version of the Uber taxi service, tends to be more expensive than yellow taxis for the same journey. We also demonstrate how Uber’s economic model effectively takes advantage of well known patterns in human movement. Finally, we take our analysis a step further by proposing a new mobile application that compares taxi prices in the city to facilitate traveller’s taxi choices, hoping to ultimately to lead to a reduction of commuter costs. Our study provides a case on how big datasets that become public can improve urban services for consumers by offering the opportunity for transparency in economic sectors that lack up to date regulations.

In Defense of Snow Days

March 27, 2015 Comments off

In Defense of Snow Days
Source: Education Next

This study provides a fresh look at the impact of instructional time lost due to weather-related student absences, as well as to school closings. Using student-level data from Massachusetts, I find that each one-day increase in the student absence rate driven by bad weather reduces math achievement by up to 5 percent of a standard deviation, suggesting that differences in average student attendance may account for as much as one-quarter of the income-based achievement gap in the state. Conversely, instructional time lost to weather-related school closings has no impact on student test scores.

What could explain these apparently conflicting results? It appears that teachers and schools are well prepared to deal with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like snow days but not with absences of different students at different times. In short, individual absences and not school closings are responsible for the achievement impacts of bad weather.

Strengthening the Detection of and Early Response to Public Health Emergencies: Lessons from the West African Ebola Epidemic

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Strengthening the Detection of and Early Response to Public Health Emergencies: Lessons from the West African Ebola Epidemic
Source: PLoS Medicine

Summary Points

  • The international response to the West African Ebola virus disease epidemic has exemplified the great potential of the global public health community. However, the protracted early response also revealed critical gaps, which likely resulted in exacerbation of the epidemic.
  • It is incumbent on international health partners to learn from missteps that occurred in the early stages of the epidemic and strengthen our public health capacity to better respond to future public health emergencies.
  • Strategies to consider include development of a more precise system to risk stratify geographic settings susceptible to disease outbreaks, reconsideration of the 2005 International Health Regulations Criteria to allow for earlier responses to localized epidemics before they reach epidemic proportions, increasing the flexibility of the World Health Organization director general to characterize epidemics with more granularity, development of guidelines for best practices to promote partnership with local stakeholders and identify locally acceptable response strategies, and, most importantly, making good on international commitments to establish a fund for public health emergency preparedness and response.
  • The recent success of the global action to stem the Ebola virus disease epidemic is laudable but should not encourage complacency in our efforts to improve the global public health infrastructure.

Mitigating Reptile Road Mortality: Fence Failures Compromise Ecopassage Effectiveness

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Mitigating Reptile Road Mortality: Fence Failures Compromise Ecopassage Effectiveness
Source: PLoS ONE

Roadways pose serious threats to animal populations. The installation of roadway mitigation measures is becoming increasingly common, yet studies that rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of these conservation tools remain rare. A highway expansion project in Ontario, Canada included exclusion fencing and ecopassages as mitigation measures designed to offset detrimental effects to one of the most imperial groups of vertebrates, reptiles. Taking a multispecies approach, we used a Before-After-Control-Impact study design to compare reptile abundance on the highway before and after mitigation at an Impact site and a Control site from 1 May to 31 August in 2012 and 2013. During this time, radio telemetry, wildlife cameras, and an automated PIT-tag reading system were used to monitor reptile movements and use of ecopassages. Additionally, a willingness to utilize experiment was conducted to quantify turtle behavioral responses to ecopassages. We found no difference in abundance of turtles on the road between the un-mitigated and mitigated highways, and an increase in the percentage of both snakes and turtles detected dead on the road post-mitigation, suggesting that the fencing was not effective. Although ecopassages were used by reptiles, the number of crossings through ecopassages was lower than road-surface crossings. Furthermore, turtle willingness to use ecopassages was lower than that reported in previous arena studies, suggesting that effectiveness of ecopassages may be compromised when alternative crossing options are available (e.g., through holes in exclusion structures). Our rigorous evaluation of reptile roadway mitigation demonstrated that when exclusion structures fail, the effectiveness of population connectivity structures is compromised. Our project emphasizes the need to design mitigation measures with the biology and behavior of the target species in mind, to implement mitigation designs in a rigorous fashion, and quantitatively evaluate road mitigation to ensure allow for adaptive management and optimization of these increasingly important conservation tools.

See: Mitigating reptile road mortality

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