Social Media and Online Identity: About.me pages

Keeping this blog alive, I will share my About.me page. This particular social media site allows sizing and position of 1 image and text through 4-7 information/biographic information fields with text, links, html, etc. Just enough to get the idea across in a light-weight, online editor. The result is a clean, effective splash page to convey yourself.

about.me/mccormicksean
Sean McCormick self

Here’s the bio on that page in case you don’t want to continue to it.
Sean P. McCormick
Temple University – Health Behavior Research Clinic
My research examines modifiable cognitive-behavioral factors in mind-body health such as the extent to which emotions can be used to inform problem solving, task behaviors, and stress reactions in everyday living.

CLinically, I provide conduct smoking cessation research within health education, and drug dependence counseling for individuals and groups. The Health Behavior Research Clinic specializes in local, under-served and low-income populations, especially those with histories of co-morbid mental health issues and substance use.

I have a secondary interest in environmental health and social justice programs. In this area, I aim to help organizations and projects maximize impact, improve processes, and pursue data with high value for translation into real world impacts. Through design with evaluation in mind, environmental and social justice interventions can benefit from monitoring and self-informing processes that aim to maximize program effectiveness.

I also enjoy teaching and education design. I have previously taught undergraduate and graduate courses in public health/psychology including behavioral health, environmental health, drugs & society, health disparities, etc. I have also given guest lectures and provided health education at various universities, hospitals, and community health centers in Philadelphia.

MASH-UP TIME! Social Cognitive Theories of Health Behaviors with Associative Learning

I am not a huge fan of music mash-ups, made famous mostly by artists like Dj Earworm, and Girl Talk. Yet, I wanted to post about mash-ups because they have been useful tools for me in explaining to myself my dissertation, and how the theories serve the broader purpose the research; using theory and evidence to inform decisions in terms of educational content, type of program (e.g. individual, group, telephone, web, mobile app) that will enable people to most consistently overcome difficulties quitting smoking.

Mash-ups are one or more songs, usually in the same or complimentary key signatures and are often at the same tempo. This allows the songs to fit together. Here’s a decent example .

Instead of trying to create new music, I will be layering two theories of smoking relapse as well as their respective descriptions of successful quit smoking attempts to better prevent relapse for people wanting to quit smoking (or changing any other behavior).

Instead of Gagnam Style vs. Ghostbuster’s Theme I used Associative Learning Theory (part of Pavlovian/classical conditioning) vs. Folkman and Lazarus, and D’Zurilla and Nezu, Transactional and Social Problem-Solving frameworks of stress, negative affect, and maladaptive coping ( high smoking-risk situations).

The basic assumption is that identifying these patterns could enable more effective support to high negative affect and stress-response smokers; those most likely to have difficulty quitting due to vulnerabilities in problem-solving, generating alternate solutions, managing negative emotions, and other such cognitive-affective-behavioral characteristics, that especially under stress are hypothesized to lead to relapse.

P.S. Next stop! Structural equation modeling of social problem-solving, negative affect, and smoking urge in baseline cue exposure data! pre vs. post exposure models! Details in the manuscript in the coming months. My dissertation is also at the publishers! For now find our work on Research Gate: Sean McCormick. 

Inspiration!!! Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan’s first meeting

I usually reserve this blog for health-related research, but I think it’s time to expand it a little into the world of teaching and education.  I am on a career path that will involve some teaching at the college level, and with hopefully some mentorship.  Even though I am still early in my career, I have already had the privilege of mentoring some students (I am an instructor/coordinator for undergraduate internships at Temple University).  This experience has already been extremely rewarding.  

This video of NGT describing his first experience with Carl Sagan reminded me of how important it is to be uber-supportive of those coming up in your field of study.  I hope to continue to grow as both a mentee and mentor.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Recounts His First Meeting with Carl Sagan

Neil deGrasse Tyson is set to host a follow-up series to Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/08/cosmos-to-get-a-sequel-hosted-by-neil-degrasse-tyson/

SO COOL!

Improving Health Outcomes among Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Tomorrow (2.17.12) – Free lecture/Seminar at Temple University

Improving Health Outcomes among Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Carolyn Y. Fang, PhD
Associate Professor and Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention & Control Program
Fox Chase Cancer Center
941 Ritter Annex (Public Health Conference Room)
February 17, 12-1 pm

Studies of head and neck cancer patients have noted that the social environment may be associated with various cancer outcomes, including survival. To date, the potential mechanisms that may underlie such associations have not been well-studied in this population. This seminar will present data from our studies that highlight key pathways linking the social environment with biological processes that may impact cancer outcomes in this patient population. In addition, directions for future interventions designed to enhance survivorship will be discussed.

Sponsored by the Social & Behavioral Health Interventions (SBHI) lab and the Department of Public Health, Temple University

Funding Cut for Washington State Tobacco Program that Saved $5 per $1 Spent

In the December 2011 edition of the American Journal of Public Health a 10 year study of Washington state’s comprehensive tobacco control intervention found that for $1 spent by the state, they saved $5 in hospitalization and treatment costs. Wonderful! What an incredible investment! 5:1 return!

Here is a graph illustrating when their program went into effect and the decline in % Adults who smoke in Washington state (compared to the national rate).
Washington Smoking Trends

The program consisted of indoor smoking bans, tax increases on tobacco products, media campaigns, a tobacco quit line, and community and school programs, among other components. This state-based program was meant to serve as a model for other states. Well, it looks like they did a great job. In terms of public health programs and cost savings of $1:$5 is excellent. So what happened? Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and the state legislature cut nearly all the programs funding for fiscal year 2012. Wait, What?!

Why would you de-fund a state program that is saving the state millions of dollars? Instead of writing in a little spending on tobacco control, they are essentially writing in five times the spending in state health care costs. The only explanation I can think of is that the state is so hard up for cash in the short-term that they are willing to kick those unfettered health costs down the road (and basically allowing for increased human suffering over the coming years). And/Or, given the current attitudes towards decreasing the roles of government, it may be that some folks view government-run tobacco control as outside the appropriate scope of government. Since tobacco does cost governments so much money in terms of care, it seems to me that they do and should have the authority to control the impact that tobacco has on the monetary bottom line. The health protection aspect is another story, one that gets at the heart of the arguments about the role of government.

Clearly, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of high-quality research that demonstrates the cost-savings and health-savings afforded by public health programs like tobacco control programs. There is also work that must be done to frame the issue as one that governments should and very much need to be involved in.

Public Health and Environmental Advocacy Groups: YOU NEED CITATIONS!

Citation Needed!This post is for everyone, but is aimed at public health and environmental advocacy organizations. First, I want to say that what you do is crucial to the success of individuals, communities and societies as a whole. I commend your hard work (most of it).

However, you often shoot yourself in the foot by failing to provide adequate citations and references in websites, flyers, radio and TV ads, PSAs, etc. Citations are often missing entirely, are incomplete, or only cite one of your own documents which is also missing the reference. This makes it impossible to find the article and will result in emails like this:

“Hello, I would like to know the facts behind your webpage regarding air pollution monitoring. Who is doing the monitoring? How regularly? What are the results and what standard is used? Does your group provide factual information or just distorted hype? Please have the fortitude to respond to simple factual inquiries. I have inquired multiple times without response.”

Painful, but he has a point. If you cannot provide the reference for a scientific study, you should not be using a specific number. For example, You can’t say that a certain law saved 100,000 lives unless there was some study or formulation done that came to that conclusion. Do not make claims that go beyond the scope of the research. Similarly, saying that a certain law or program would prevent “many” deaths, is a weak argument and is unlikely to garner support from funding agencies or politicians.

Failing to provide references and citations for actual scientific research that supports your arguments completely undermines an individual’s or organization’s ability to advocate for change.

The knee-jerk response to my point is often “Who cares, you can make statistics say anything you want.” That is true, to some extent, but that does not mean you should stop citing or conducting research. Providing a citation and reference enables someone from the outside your organization, outside the research, to examine the methods used to gather the data, look at the results, and see whether or not those methods and the claims that follow are appropriate.

This may remind you of high school science classes when you had to use at least 2 citations for a 3 page paper. However, the entire health and environmental advocacy field has shifting towards this standard, which it should! The way governments and organizations spend their money is being scrutinized at a higher level. That means that advocacy organizations need to step up their game in order to maintain relevance, earn respect from the public and public officials, as well as provide the most good for the most people using the least amount of money. Being more steadfast about basing advocacy work/products/literature on scientific research and using citations will not only improve your work, but will also preclude naysayers from claiming that environmental groups are radical zealots making unfounded claims. Like it or not, advocacy, especially in today’s world, requires some scientific prowess and familiarity with research methodologies.

If you, or your organization is uncomfortable with all of this, please, don’t avoid that discomfort. Instead embrace it as a new way for your organization to achieve it’s mission. Depending on your staff’s education, it may only mean that they need to be reminded to provide citations whenever possible. Or, it could mean that your organization needs to look at hiring individuals with a different skill set.

I know, it may be painful. Science and research are scary things to some people. Yet, they are some of the most powerful tools we have as health and environmental advocates. Good research is good advocacy. Good advocacy is based on good research.

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As a side note, unfortunately, many scientific articles are not available for free. However, many are! You just need to look. Open-access journals are out there. For example: Environmental Health. Also, many government websites provide their articles for free. Most other articles are available through college and university library systems. Institutions of higher learning spend millions of dollars annually to give their faculty and students access to the largest and latest research databases. HINT: Maintain staff or interns that are currently enrolled.
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If you have no idea what I am talking about, here is an example:

In your text:
“Research has shown that air pollution levels are higher in metropolitan areas (Dockery et al., 1993).”

At the bottom of your document/website
References
Krewski, D., Burnett, R., Jerrett, M., Pope, C.A., Rainham, D., Calle, E., Thurston, G., Thun, M. (2005) Mortality and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution: ongoing analyses based on the American Cancer Society cohort. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 68, 13-14.

For most purposes, don’t worry about the different citation styles, or having everything formatted perfectly. That would be great, but you must provide at least enough information for someone else who wants to find the article.
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A couple recommended links:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/3/

Google Scholar

Smoke-Free Philly Video Contest

Video Contest Button
Attention Undergraduate & Graduate Students!
Enter the Smoke-Free Philly Video Contest for a chance to win $1000 while raising awareness about tobacco policy & control in Philly!

$1000, $500 and $250 will be awarded to videos ranked first, second and third. The winning video will also be featured on a local broadcasting outlet.

Entry Deadline – October 26th, 2011

For more info:
http://cleanair.org/program/indoor_air_pollution/tobacco_smoke_pollution/smoke_free_philly_video_contest

Structural Equation Modeling (Temple University Dept. of Public Health)

Structural Equation Modeling
Fall 2011 – Dr. Adam Davey
Temple University – Department of Public Health

SEM BLOG/JOURNAL
Selected quotes and my random thoughts as I take the SEM journey.

Here’s the text:
Kline

“Unlike multiple regression, though, SEM allows the analysis of curvilinear or interactive relations of both observed and latent variables.”
Whoa! Bring it.

“SEM readily allows the representation and estimation of possible
spurious associations because of common causes.”

On missing data (which is crucial to a proper SEM analysis)
“Also note that there is no magical statistical “fix” that
will remedy systematic data loss. About the best that can be done is to
attempt to understand the nature of the underlying data loss mechanism
and take preventive measures.”

The Power of (Blog) Writing

Despite the increase in use of audio and video formats written communication remains central to academic and scientific work. While publishing with journals is accelerating with online document transfer, the need for information in written form remains. As a doctoral student I am constantly writing, and need to be doing even more of it. I also need to be doing it faster, and at a higher quality.

Like any skill or muscle, writing benefits from exercise. I am choosing to exercise my writing skills through these (semi)regular blog postings. The blog format offers a sometimes less formal setting for free flowing thought, that can also hold manuscript style reporting; depending on the post, or my mood of the day.

Having the blog and knowing if it’s been idle also encourages me to take a more involved and connected role in the advancement of current science. As a professional in health and science fields, finding ways to stay current is crucial to our understanding of health issues, our ability to treat safely, and our ability to increase efficacy and cost-effectiveness across the board.

As an upcoming instructor/professor-wanna-be/researcher, this blog also reminds that what we really need is the opportunity to write. Sometimes you give yourself that opportunity (e.g. creating a journal or blog) and sometimes you are called upon to write something (e.g. my addictions summer class). Either way, writing happens.