The connection between sexual harassment and women’s health, predicting your mood through a smartphone app, and how hugs can lift your spirits.

Association of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault with Midlife Women’s Mental and Physical Health (JAMA Internal Medicine, 10/3/2018)

A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine highlights how devastating those effects can be when it comes to long-term health. The study examined hundreds of women who were, on average, 54 years old and experienced some sort of sexual harassment or assault in their past. Researchers set out to see whether such incidents were associated, over the long term, with problematic health outcomes such as higher blood pressure, elevated anxiety, and sleep disorders. “Women with a history of sexual harassment had significantly higher systolic blood pressure (SBP), marginally higher diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and significantly poorer sleep quality than women without a history of harassment,” wrote the study authors.

Had A Fight? A Hug Might Reduce Stress and Boost Your Mood

(Discover Magazine, 10/3/2018, Roni Dengler)

Do you ever feel like you just need a hug? New research provides scientific evidence that getting a hug on the same day you’ve had a conflict can lift your spirits. The finding suggests hugs are a simple yet effective way to relieve relationship stress, romantic or not. People commonly communicate affection by hugging, holding hands, or even a pat on the back. And past research shows physical contact has psychological and physical health benefits. For example, couples who hug and hold hands feel better and have lower levels of stress hormones. But most research on the power of hugs involves people in romantic relationships. The researchers report their finding that hugs reduce stress in the journal PLOS ONE.

Can a Mood-Predicting Smartphone App Work?

(Scientific American, 10/4/2018, Kate Sheridan)

“There is an app for that” seems to be the answer to everything these days. Mindstrong is the latest in a string to health apps that helps improve your well-being via technology. The promise of that technology has helped Mindstrong build incredible momentum since it launched last year; already more than a dozen counties in California have agreed to deploy the company’s app to patients. Does the app live up to its promise? There’s no way to tell. Almost no one outside the company has any idea whether it works. Most of the company’s key promises or claims aren’t yet backed up by published, peer-reviewed data—leading some experts to wonder if the technology is ready for the real world. The company’s app collects information about how people are typing and runs it through a machine learning algorithm to determine which data can predict their emotional state. Mindstrong has already used it in controlled clinical settings and trials—including one run by a company developing new antidepressants and another done in a ketamine clinic. The idea is to use that data to establish a “normal” pattern—so it can be compared against someone’s typing habits on any given day. If the habits look off, slower or more agitated than normal, the app can alert a health care provider.

 

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola