Publications by authors named "Paula J Ham"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effects of social support in an academic context on low-grade inflammation in high school students.

J Behav Med 2021 Aug 6. Epub 2021 Aug 6.

Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL, 60208, USA.

Bolstering academic motivation is a high priority in school settings, but some evidence suggests this could take a toll on students' physical health. To address this, this study compared the effects of an experimental manipulation of academic motivation alone (AM) to academic motivation enhanced with social support (SS + AM) on markers of inflammation in a sample of 80 high school 9th graders. Outcomes included low-grade inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6); a motivation measure; and grade point average (GPA), taken at baseline and follow-up (beginning and end of school year, respectively). Students in the SS + AM condition had lower levels of inflammation at follow-up (covarying baseline levels) compared to those in the AM condition. The two groups were equivalent on motivation and GPA at follow-up. This preliminary study suggests that incorporating social support into academic motivation programs has the potential to benefit inflammatory markers in young people while allowing them to maintain positive academic outcomes.
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August 2021

Persistent autonomic dysfunction and bladder sensitivity in primary dysmenorrhea.

Sci Rep 2019 02 18;9(1):2194. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston IL, 60201, USA.

Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is a leading risk factor for bladder pain syndrome (BPS). A better understanding of the mechanisms that predispose dysmenorrheic women to BPS is needed to develop prophylactic strategies. Abnormal autonomic regulation, a key factor implicated in BPS and chronic pain, has not been adequately characterized in women with dysmenorrhea. Thus, we examined heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy (n = 34), dysmenorrheic (n = 103), and BPS participants (n = 23) in their luteal phase across a bladder-filling task. Both dysmenorrheic and BPS participants reported increased bladder pain sensitivity when compared to controls (p's < 0.001). Similarly, dysmenorrheic and BPS participants had increased heart rate (p's < 0.01), increased diastolic blood pressure (p's < 0.01), and reduced HRV (p's < 0.05) when compared to controls. Dysmenorrheic participants also exhibited little change in heart rate between maximum bladder capacity and after micturition when compared to controls (p = 0.013). Our findings demonstrate menstrual pain's association with abnormal autonomic activity and bladder sensitivity, even two weeks after menses. Our findings of autonomic dysfunction in both early episodic and chronic visceral pain states points to an urgent need to elucidate the development of such imbalance, perhaps beginning in adolescence.
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February 2019

Beyond positive or negative: variability in daily parent-adolescent interaction quality is associated with adolescent emotion dysregulation.

Cogn Emot 2019 06 27;33(4):840-847. Epub 2018 May 27.

c Department of Psychology and the Institute for Policy Research , Northwestern University , Evanston, IL , USA.

Previous work on the contribution of family environments to adolescent emotion dysregulation has tended to focus on broad parenting characteristics (such as warmth); however, it is possible that day-to-day variability in parenting may also relate to emotion dysregulation. The current study sought to test whether inconsistency in the quality of daily parent-youth interactions related to multiple indices of emotion dysregulation in adolescents. Two-hundred-twenty-two adolescents (ages 13-16; 53% female) participated with one parent. Adolescents completed 14-days of diary reporting on the quality of interactions with their parent (negative/neutral/positive) and their emotion dysregulation experiences for each day. Analyses reveal that, beyond the effects of average interaction quality, adolescents with greater variability in the quality of their interactions with their parent reported greater average emotion dysregulation across the days of diary recording and demonstrated greater variability in their ratings of daily emotion dysregulation. Findings were not accounted for by parental warmth or hostility, parent-reported trait-level emotion regulation, or day-level associations between study variables. In these ways, greater variability - and not merely greater negativity - during interactions between parents and adolescents was related to adolescent emotion dysregulation, suggesting that consistency in parent-adolescent relationships may be an important dimension of psychosocial risk to consider within families.
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June 2019

Parents' childhood socioeconomic circumstances are associated with their children's asthma outcomes.

J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017 Sep 13;140(3):828-835.e2. Epub 2017 Jan 13.

Department of Psychology, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Background: Previous literature documents associations between low socioeconomic status (SES) and poor health outcomes, including asthma. However, this literature has largely focused on the effects of current family circumstances.

Objective: We sought to test an intergenerational hypothesis, that the childhood SES that parents experience will be associated with asthma outcomes in their children, independent of effects of current family SES. Second, we aimed to test whether this association is in part due to difficulties in current parent-child relationships.

Methods: This was an observational study, whereby 150 parents were interviewed about their childhood SES and their children (physician-diagnosed asthma, ages 9-17 years) were interviewed about current family stress. Asthma control was assessed by parent report and child report (primary outcome), and blood was collected from children to measure cytokine production relevant to asthma (secondary outcomes).

Results: To the degree that parents had lower childhood SES, their offspring showed worse asthma outcomes across multiple indicators. This included lower asthma control scores (parent and child report, Ps < .05), and greater stimulated production of T2 and T1 cytokines by PBMCs (Ps < .05). These associations were independent of current family SES. Mediation analyses were consistent with a scenario wherein parents with low childhood SES had current family relationships that were more stressful, and these difficulties, in turn, related to worse asthma control and greater cytokine production in children.

Conclusions: These results suggest the potential "long reach" of low SES across generations, and the importance of expanding theories of how the social environment can affect childhood asthma to include characteristics of earlier generations.
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September 2017