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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Other Recent Work

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Physical and Mental Health Characteristics of 2,962 Adults With Subjective Cognitive Complaints.

(2022)

We investigated subjective cognitive complaints (SCCs), as well as physical and mental health factors, in adults and older adults. U.S. residents (N = 2,962) were recruited via the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform and completed a 90-item survey. Overall, 493/1930 (25.5%) of younger adults and 278/1032 (26.9%) of older adults endorsed SCCs. Analyses revealed worse physical and mental health characteristics in the SCC+ compared to the SCC- group, with primarily medium (Cohen's d = 0.50) to large (0.80) effect sizes. Age did not moderate relationships between SCCs and physical/mental health. Results suggest that SCCs are associated with a diverse set of negative health characteristics such as poor sleep and high body mass index, and lower levels of positive factors, including happiness and wisdom. Effect sizes of psychological correlates were at least as large as those of physical correlates, indicating that mental health is critical to consider when evaluating SCCs.

Cover page of Co-creating a Theory of Change to advance COVID-19 testing and vaccine uptake in underserved communities.

Co-creating a Theory of Change to advance COVID-19 testing and vaccine uptake in underserved communities.

(2022)

Objectives

To describe the use of a Theory of Change to meaningfully engage community members from or support underserved communities in two National Institutes of Health-funded implementation science projects aimed at promoting equitable access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination for underserved communities.

Study setting

Both projects focused on Latino, Black, and immigrant and refugee communities in South/Central San Diego and/or individuals accessing care at a federally qualified health center near the US/Mexico border during December 2020-April 2021.

Study design

By using a participatory action research design, Community Advisory Boards (CABs) were established for each project with 11 and 22 members. CAB members included community organizers, promotores de salud (community health workers), clinic providers and administrators, and public health researchers. The CABs were guided through a seven-session Theory of Change process, focused on identifying necessary conditions that must exist to eliminate COVID-19 disparities along with specified actions to create those conditions and a blueprint for assessing the impact of those actions.

Data collection

Each session lasted 2 h hosted virtually and was augmented by interactive web-based activities. There was a live interpreter who facilitated the participation of Spanish-speaking CAB members. A Theory of Change for each project was completed in approximately 4 months.

Principal findings

Nine necessary conditions were identified related to (1) accessible and available services; (2) culturally and linguistically competent programming; (3) investment in trusted community and faith leaders; (4) social safety nets to provide ancillary services. Corresponding actions to create these conditions and measures to indicate success in creating these conditions were operationalized by the CAB.

Conclusions

While resource-intensive, a CAB-led Theory of Change process yielded a rich opportunity to engage diverse groups that typically are not invited to inform these processes.

Identification of Youthful Neurocognitive Trajectories in Adults Aging with HIV: A Latent Growth Mixture Model.

(2022)

Despite the neurocognitive risks of aging with HIV, initial cross-sectional data suggest a subpopulation of older people with HIV (PWH) possess youthful neurocognition (NC) characteristic of SuperAgers (SA). Here we characterize longitudinal NC trajectories of older PWH and their convergent validity with baseline SA status, per established SuperAging criteria in PWH, and baseline biopsychosocial factors. Growth mixture modeling (GMM) identified longitudinal NC classes in 184 older (age ≥ 50-years) PWH with 1-5 years of follow-up. Classes were defined using 'peak-age' global T-scores, which compare performance to a normative sample of 25-year-olds. 3-classes were identified: Class 1Stable Elite (n = 31 [16.8%], high baseline peak-age T-scores with flat trajectory); Class 2Quadratic Average (n = 100 [54.3%], intermediate baseline peak-age T-scores with u-shaped trajectory); Class 3Quadratic Low (n = 53 [28.8%], low baseline peak-age T-scores with u-shaped trajectory). Baseline predictors of Class 1Stable Elite included SA status, younger age, higher cognitive and physiologic reserve, and fewer subjective cognitive difficulties. This GMM analysis supports the construct validity of SuperAging in older PWH through identification of a subgroup with longitudinally-stable, youthful neurocognition and robust biopsychosocial health.

Cover page of Trends, heterogeneity, and correlates of mental health and psychosocial well-being in later-life: study of 590 community-dwelling adults aged 40-104 years.

Trends, heterogeneity, and correlates of mental health and psychosocial well-being in later-life: study of 590 community-dwelling adults aged 40-104 years.

(2022)

Objective

The goal of this study was to examine if mental health and psychosocial well-being differed between middle-aged (MA; 40-59 years), younger-old (YO; 60-79 years), and older-old (OO; 80+ years) adults with respect to their trends, heterogeneity, and correlates.

Methods

Eighteen mental health and psychosocial well-being instruments were administered to 590 adults over age 40. Cross-sectional data also included self-report-based measures of sociodemographics, cognitive functioning, physical health and activity, and body mass index.

Results

Age trends across instruments varied in magnitude and shape, but generally supported an inverted U-shaped trend in mental health and psychosocial well-being, with small increases from MA to YO age (d = 0.29) and smaller declines from YO to OO age (d = -0.17). A U-shaped association between age and mental health heterogeneity was also observed. The strongest correlates of mental health and psychosocial well-being differed by age (MA: perceived stress; YO: successful aging; OO: compassion toward others), as did the associations of a flourishing versus languishing mental health and well-being profile.

Conclusions

Our findings support the "paradox of aging," whereby declines in physical and cognitive health co-occur with relatively preserved mental health and well-being. Our findings indicate that variance in mental and psychosocial health does not increase linearly with age and support careful consideration of heterogeneity in mental health and aging research. Our findings also suggest that mental health and psychosocial well-being decouple from stress-related dimensions in MA and become increasingly associated with positive, other-oriented emotions in OO, broadly supporting socioemotional theories of aging.

Association Between VACS Index and Health-Related Quality of Life in Persons with HIV: Moderating Role of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.

(2022)

The health status of people with HIV (PWH) influences their health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Modifiable lifestyle factors may improve HRQOL. This study (1) explores the association between modifiable lifestyle factors (physical activity and nutrition) and HRQOL and (2) examines if these lifestyle factors moderate the association health status and HRQOL. Participants included 91 community dwelling PWH (age 36-65 years) from the university lab. Participants reported mental and physical HRQOL via the Medical Outcome Study 36-Item Short-Form (SF-36). Physical activity was examined via the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and nutrition (i.e., fruit and vegetable consumption) was assessed with the By-Meal Screener. Health status was ascertained via the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index. Aim 1 analyses indicated that neither physical activity nor nutrition was related to mental HRQOL (p's > .05). However, greater physical activity (β = .33, p < .01) and nutrition (β = .23, p = .03) were each independently related to better physical HRQOL and remained significant after accounting for co-occurring medical conditions. For aim 2, the interaction between health status and nutrition was statistically significant (β = .24, p = .02), such that the association between worse health status and worse physical HRQOL was weaker with better nutrition. There was not a statistically significant interaction between physical activity and health status on physical HRQOL (p > .05). Physical HRQOL is related to self-reported physical activity and nutrition, with nutrition showing a moderating effect on the association between health status and physical HRQOL. Thus, future interventional studies designed to improve physical HRQOL should target both physical activity and nutrition.

Cover page of Effects of combined THC and heroin vapor inhalation in rats.

Effects of combined THC and heroin vapor inhalation in rats.

(2022)

Rationale

Opioids are effective medications, but they have several key limitations including the development of tolerance, establishment of dependence, diversion for non-medical use, and the development of addiction. Therefore, any drugs which act in an additive or synergistic fashion with opioids to address medical applications have the potential to reduce opioid-related harms.

Objectives

To determine if heroin and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interact in an additive or independent manner to alter nociception, body temperature, and spontaneous locomotor activity when inhaled or injected.

Methods

Groups of female and male rats, implanted with radiotelemetry transmitters, were exposed to vapor generated from heroin (50 mg/mL in propylene glycol vehicle; PG), THC (50 mg/mL), or the combination for assessment of effects on temperature and activity. Thermal nociception was assessed with a warm water tail-withdrawal assay.

Results

Heroin inhalation increased temperature and activity whereas THC inhalation decreased temperature and activity in both female and male Sprague-Dawley rats. Effects of combined inhalation were in opposition, and additional experiments found the same outcome for the injection of heroin (0.5 mg/kg, s.c.) and THC (10 mg/kg, i.p.) alone and in combination. In contrast, the co-administration of heroin and THC by either inhalation or injection produced additive effects on thermal nociception in both male and female Sprague-Dawley and Wistar rats.

Conclusions

This study shows that additive effects of THC with an opioid on a medical endpoint such as analgesia may not generalize to other behavioral or physiological effects, which may be a positive outcome for unwanted side effects.

Cover page of Associations between inflammatory marker profiles and neurocognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia and non-psychiatric comparison subjects.

Associations between inflammatory marker profiles and neurocognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia and non-psychiatric comparison subjects.

(2022)

Background

Cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia is the key predictor of functional disability and drives economic burden. Inflammation has been increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, yet its role in cognitive decline has not been evaluated. This study explores the association between inflammation and cognitive functioning in persons with schizophrenia.

Methods

Participants included 143 persons with schizophrenia (PwS) and 139 non-psychiatric comparison subjects (NCs) from an ongoing study of aging. Cognitive assessments included validated measures for executive functioning, processing speed, and visuospatial skills. Plasma levels of nine biomarkers associated with inflammation (high sensitivity C-reactive protein, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, serum amyloid A, interleukin-6, interleukin-8, interferon gamma-induced protein-10, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, fractalkine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor) were quantified using commercially available, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Partial least squares regression was used to develop a composite "inflammatory profile" to maximize correlations with the cognitive outcomes. We then constructed a best-fit model using these composites and their interactions with diagnosis and sex as the predictors, controlling for covariates.

Results

The biomarker composite, which best correlated with scores on cognitive testing, included high sensitivity C-reactive protein, intercellular adhesion molecule 1, serum amyloid A, interleukin-6, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, for a 5-biomarker "inflammatory profile." The best-fit model showed a significant biomarker composite by diagnosis by sex three-way interaction, for executive function and processing speed, but not visuospatial skill.

Conclusions

This approach to building an "inflammatory profile" may provide insight into inflammatory pathways affecting brain function and potential targets for anti-inflammatory interventions to improve cognition in schizophrenia.

Cover page of Interventions to reduce loneliness in caregivers: An integrative review of the literature.

Interventions to reduce loneliness in caregivers: An integrative review of the literature.

(2022)

Older adults are at an increased risk of loneliness. Many also serve as informal caregivers for persons with dementia and other disabling conditions, further predisposing them to loneliness. The primary objective was to assess current loneliness interventions for caregivers to inform development of effective therapies to improve their quality of life. An integrative review of the literature was conducted using five electronic databases and 12 studies were included for further analysis. Data were extracted regarding the type of intervention implemented, caregiver characteristics, and intervention effects. Five main intervention types emerged: mindful meditation, computer applications, music therapy, peer support, and community programs. Most care recipients had dementia, and most caregivers were spouses. Peer support was the most frequently utilized intervention, and common intervention strategies included providing emotional support, expanding one's social network, and supplying psychoeducational materials. Most interventions had methodological limitations and demonstrated small effect sizes. Hence, there remains a continued need for well-designed interventions that target loneliness in informal caregiver. Caregivers may benefit from interventions that expand their social network to improve their emotional regulation and understanding of their role. Further research on the role of group versus individual therapy is necessary to strengthen interventions and broaden their application.