Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 

UC Research Seeking To Confirm Who Is Fit For Work

UC Research Seeking To Confirm Who Is Fit For Work After A Major Event

March 5, 2013

Earthquake-related research by the University of Canterbury (UC) psychology team may have significant implications for assessments of work readiness.

The UC team wants to confirm if it can use objective measures to figure out how fit someone is for work after experiencing a stressful event such as a major disaster.

The UC team, headed by Professor Deak Helton, arranged for people after the September 4 2010 earthquake to perform sensitive computer tasks to assess how much they paid attention and what they were doing.

During the study they also measured the participants’ oxygen levels in their brains.

``We measured changes in the brain tissue as an indicator of the brain’s response to task demands. We also asked participants to report on their depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms in response to the earthquake.

``The main findings showed that people reported moderately elevated symptoms of depression and stress which showed reductions in their ability to sustain their attention. This was in line with well-established psychological theories and our previous research. But there were hints of something more interesting happening.

``The results, although tentative, suggest that people with extremely elevated stress symptoms may be able to be classified by the combination of their brain oxygen levels and performance on the computer tasks.

``If our finding can be replicated in more people then it suggests objective indicators not reliant on a person’s own appraisals or reports of symptoms may assist in determining who is substantially impacted by stressful events.

``Mental health professionals sometimes need additional evidence regarding a person’s condition. This work follows up on some of our previous research which indicated computer based tasks may be a useful way of telling who is fit to work after disasters.’’

Professor Helton’s longer term research project with UC colleagues is seeking to confirm the initial findings. Professor Helton is considered an international leader in the emerging field of neuro-ergonomics, the application of neuroscience work places.

``While many people would rely on someone’s own reports of their symptoms, in some settings the person could be either unwilling or unable to make these self-assessments accurately.

``If you look beyond earthquakes to the broader issue of stressful work such as peacekeeping missions, a significant concern is whether a peacekeeper that experienced a substantially stressful event is fit for redeployment.

``While someone might suggest you could simply ask them, in that context there is probably a culture of not coming forward with these kinds of admissions as soldiering is traditionally a stoic culture.

``We are not mental health professionals and we do not diagnose people. But we see our laboratory work as potentially helpful to those in the mental health community,” said Professor Helton, whose paper with former student Ulrike Ossowski and colleague Dr Sanna Malinen has been published in the Experimental Brain Research journal.


Photo: Deak Helton

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Max Rashbrooke Review: Ravishing Berlioz And Ravel

In this engaging, French-inflected performance, full of strengths, perhaps the standout was the mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke. Wellington has been visited by a few high profile singers recently, notably Anne Sofie von Otter, but few have impressed me as much ... More>>

Yadana Saw Review: The Jim Henson Retrospectacle Live In Concert

As band leader, MC, stand-up comedian and presenter, hometown hero Bret McKenzie was definitely a hit in the Jim Henson Retrospectacle tribute concert. More>>

Kiwi Up For Prestigious UK Fine Art Prize

London-based 30-year-old New Zealand artist Luke Willis Thompson has been shortlisted for one of the world's most prestigious annual art prizes - The 2018 Turner Prize More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Incremental Destruction - The Death Of Stalin

The literature on his blood-soaked rule has reached Babel Tower proportions. Joseph Stalin, who presided over a state transformed and tormented, has been a difficult subject to portray. His period of rule, its cruelty stupendous and murderous, has ... More>>

Joseph Cederwall Review: NZSO Plays Zappa

The first of the NZSO’s Shed Series concerts at the more informal and intimate space of Wellington's Shed 6 last Friday night featured music composed by, or with a connection to Frank Zappa. Zappa, a psychedelic rock legend, activist and popular culture figure and all round colourful character, was an excellent choice for the concert’s theme of innovation. More>>

Scoop Review of Books: Martin Edmonds' The Expatriates

This book is an extension of, and tribute to, the life’s work of James McNeish. Without sacrificing any degree of authorial independence, the result is gracefully written, handsomely produced, and likely to propagate many further works of its kind. More>>

Joseph Cederwall Review: WOMAD 2018 - Harmony of Difference (part 1)

A friend described WOMAD as his “favourite white middle class celebration of diversity.” There is certainly an echo of truth to this as the crowd is still largely white and middle class, but this WOMAD for me represented that a better world is possible ... More>>

Harmony of Difference (part 2)

Top international world music artists seldom make it down to this neck of the woods, so for those of us into this sort of thing WOMAD is certainly a welcome addition to the cultural calendar. Now it is a case of waiting and looking forward to seeing what they manage to conjure up for next year. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland