All posts by pathways4youth

Dean’s Research Day 2016

We are very proud to have two of our Research Assistants from Pathways4youth representing the lab at the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing Dean’s Research Day on April 5, 2016! This year’s Dean’s Research Day is part of a Global Health Symposium on “Celebrating 125 Years of Research and Impact”.

Corinne is presenting a poster titled “Variations in Adolescent Purposes and Their Association with Frequency of Alcohol and/or Marijuana Use”. Her research is focused on the associations different types of adolescent purpose (duty, service, hedonism, success, and innovation) have with the frequency of use of theses substances (zero lifetime use, experimental use or frequent use). Analysis found that youth who reported more frequent alcohol use reported lower levels of success-oriented purpose compared to those who never used alcohol and lower service- oriented purpose compared to those who never used alcohol or reported experimental use. Youth who reported frequent marijuana use reported higher hedonism-oriented purpose compared to those who never used marijuana and lower service-oriented purpose compared to those who never used or reported experimental use. There are very exciting implications for this research, including the limited differentiation between experimental and non-substance users and the importance distinct purposes have in adolescent substance use and risk behavior.

Kathryn is presenting a poster titled, “The Relationship between Purpose, Perceived Norms, and Alcohol and Marijuana Use in High School Adolescents”. Her research looks at the frequency of lifetime alcohol and marijuana use in a sample of adolescents, and how frequency was associated with different categories of purpose over and above Reasoned Action Approach (RAA) constructs. Positive expectancies related to use were associated with higher lifetime use, and intentions to avoid use were associated with less lifetime use, which is in line with Reasoned Action Approach theory. No type of purpose was associated with alcohol use over and above the RAA constructs. A hedonistic-oriented purpose (i.e. live life to the fullest; have fun) was associated with higher lifetime use of marijuana over and above the RAA constructs. These findings are important because finding ways to decrease this hedonistic-oriented purpose could be beneficial at preventing and decreasing marijuana use in adolescents. Kathryn also presented this poster at the Midwest Nursing Research Society conference on March 17, 2016 in Milwaukee, WI!

Dean’s Research Day will be full of innovative nursing research, exploration and discussion. We are happy to have our lab represented at such a prestigious conference.


University of Michigan Opioid Overdose Summit 2015: What We Learned

On December 1st 2015, hundreds of researchers, clinicians, public health practitioners, policymakers, students, and members of the media gathered together for a day of scientific learning, sharing and exploration on the subject of prescription pain medication overdose related injury and death. There were over two-dozen presentations relating to opioid overdose, including examination of epidemiology and scope of the problem, the health care system’s response and possible prevention techniques. Presentations varied in responding at the health system level, the policy level, and the community level. Dr. Boyd from the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing took the problem from a lifespan approach and focused on adolescent opioid nonmedical use and medical misuse, and differentiating between sensation-seeking and self-treating. There was also a multi-disciplinary discussion on the use of Naloxone to save the lives of those who overdose on prescription pain medications. Suggestions were made by many esteemed researchers on ways opioid misuse could be prevented, from better prescription practices to increased surveillance. This conference gave scientists from across the country and from many disciplines the chance to come together and share information on this growing public health crisis, as well as discover the gaps in the research that still need to be filled.

At Pathways4Youth we are excited to see this topic come into the forefront of scientific research and discussion. In particular, focus on adolescent opioid use is very relevant to our continuing research on adolescent development, and the risk behaviors and environments that can affect it. This Opioid Overdose Summit was a crucial step in the direction of understanding substance use better, and using this knowledge to focus on prevention.

-Corinne Hauck and Kathryn Abramoski

Promoting Our Positive Futures

Pathways4Youth is proud to announce that the latest paper by Dr. Stoddard and Mrs. Pierce has been accepted and published! Promoting Positive Future Expectations During Adolescence: The Role of Assets is an intriguing new paper that discusses the roles community involvement and neighborhood collective efficacy have on the future expectations of adolescents. Through the survey of 7th grade students, information was gathered about their community engagement and neighborhood environment, then compared these feelings to their sense of hope, purpose and future expectations.

A group of seventh grade students at a midwest suburban middle school were given a survey with items related to future expectations and self-concept. Students were asked questions about hope, purpose, future expectations, contribution to community, and neighborhood collective efficacy. Neighborhood collective efficacy is an individual’s perception of the social cohesion and trust in their neighborhood. The researchers found that positive future expectations were associated with youth that are engaged in community activities and in those that report higher neighborhood collective efficacy. When youth help in their community, they may be able to reflect more on what is important to them. Also, hope and purpose were associated with each other, meaning having a purpose in life may motivate one to overcome difficulties to better achieve the life one hopes for. These findings are important because interventions to improve community efficacy and allow youth to become more involved in community work may benefit youth and adolescents. Helping youth figure out their purpose in life and fostering hope may also have positive effects on youth.

This paper is a meaningful addition to the Pathways4Youth literary collection and represents the intuitive and influential research that we are conducting everyday.


Written by: Corinne Hauck and Kathryn Abramoski

Marijuana and the Law: Setting the Facts Straight

America is in a stage of transition, uncertainty and polarizing views when it comes to marijuana. Laws differ from state to state, policies regarding medicinal use are confusing and everyone has an opinion on the issue. Teens are in a difficult position, schools maintain a clear abstinence policy following federal law, while it is popular culturally and growing more acceptable as a medical treatment. So what should be done? How can the distinction between medical use and recreational use be clarified? Listed below are some the laws regarding marijuana for 2015 in Michigan:

  • The possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia is a federal offense 
  • The severity of the punishment differs between states and the federal government, and even between cities within a single state- See Michigan’s laws here 
  • For those under 18 the crime is labeled as a Minor in Possession
  • The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program regulates the registration for medical marijuana cards
  • Selling/ distributing medical marijuana is a crime, which according to the Monitoring the Future study, is responsible for 17% of high school students use

Teens need to be aware of the laws regarding marijuana, as well as the scientifically studied effects of the drug. According to research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , “adolescents who regularly used marijuana had impaired neural connectivity in specific brain regions involved in a broad range of executive functions like memory, learning, and impulse control as compared to non-users”. Many studies have corroborated that marijuana use while the brain is still developing (up to age ~25) hinders the neural refinement of synapses.

One of the largest controversies over the legalization of medical marijuana was that it would increase adolescent use of the drug. Surprisingly, a NIH funded study found that there was no significant increase in teen marijuana usage. So although teens may be procuring medical marijuana illegally, it is the same teens that would have found it off the street. Hopefully this signifies that teens understand the risks of marijuana and are choosing to abstain from the drug. Just because it can be used medicinally marijuana, like all prescription drugs, should not be used unless needed, and then with careful monitoring.

By Corinne Hauck

Teen Prescription Drug Misuse: Are Stimulants Worth the Risk?

prescrpition drug misuse


Prescription stimulant drugs can be safely used to treat certain medical conditions such as ADHD, narcolepsy, and depression. However, many young adults misuse drugs that are not prescribed to them to boost their grades, get ‘high’ or curb their appetites. A recent study by the University of Michigan Medical School found that almost 1% of American teenagers ages 16-19 began misusing stimulant prescription drugs in 2014. In that same year The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 13.9% of high school seniors used a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons. These startling facts show that nonmedical prescription drug use is more common among high school students than many believe.

This may be due to teen’s lack of knowledge of the dangers of misusing these drugs. NIDA cites increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, high body temperatures, and decreased sleep and appetite as a few of the side effects of taking prescription stimulants. Long term use can lead to addiction, chronic high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. While teens and young adults find the benefits of these drugs common knowledge, the risks are much less publicized. This has lead teens to see prescription stimulants as safer than street drugs, which can lead to the dangerous habit of mixing with alcohol, or other drugs/ medications.

But what many young adults don’t know is that the grade- boosting benefits of ‘study drugs’ are largely ambiguous. A University of Pennsylvania study found mixed results of actual performance enhancement and the National Institute on Drug Abuse cites that, though stimulants promote wakefulness, they do not enhance cognitive abilities for people who do not have ADHD. To reduce initial use and possible addiction to prescription drugs, teens need to be aware of the very real risks and dubious benefits of these drugs.

Luckily, more resources are being used to give teens this knowledge. NIDA’s current campaign to prevent prescription drug abuse is PEERx, and interactive web-based program that offers updated scientific data, intervention models, and community outreach tools to give teens the knowledge they need to make informed decisions., though less user friendly, has a darker, more impactful tone as it gives relevant facts about prescription drug misuse and its side effects. By targeting middle and high school students with these preventative sources, these organizations are working toward reducing initial prescription drug misuse, which is the first step on the long road toward reduced drug use overall.

By Corinne Hauck

Poetic Storytelling

By Anne Scheps

It’s a topic that’s careened its way across campus, weaving its way through conversations, classes, and events. Race. More specifically, racial identity. The subject is touchy for most people to approach and it’s common to want to avoid talking about it. But groups around the country are countering this fear with a widespread movement to use their silenced voices.

At the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a learning community called First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community is bringing conversations to college campuses using innovative performance techniques. I recently attended a “poetic story-telling” put on by four of its travelling members. The event was in Rackham Auditorium, an interesting place to hold what was about to happen.

The “poetic story-telling” began with a few introductions from the staff that work with the undergraduates in the living community. They talked about the hard work these undergraduates put into the performances, their dedication to social justice, and their courageous activism in the face of defeat. Even before the performance started, there was an atmosphere of reflection. It was infectious. I began to reflect on what I had done in my college years, if I could be considered an “activist”. As a senior with one semester left, introspection is my new favorite game. I ask myself what story I might leave on the campus and what I can take with me to the new places I’ll explore.

The performance started with a single student rapping with no instruments and only the beat of his foot against the floor to guide his rhythm. He spoke about his identity, how others saw him, and how he wanted to be treated. This theme continued throughout the rest of the six or seven separate skits. Some involved all four performers, which I found the most powerful. Singing and poetry played a large role in how they imparted their message to the audience. At moments, I was surprised to hear a performer start humming and singing while another performer continued on with his lines. It was beautiful to hear this harmony amid the deep and troublesome topics they were speaking out about.

A part of the performance I will hold in my mind and heart for many years to come was when the performers pretended to be students in a classroom with a teacher who didn’t understand how to teach or even interact with students of a different race than theirs. They described feelings of alienation, embarrassment, struggle, and shame. A line I distinctly remember is “If you had only asked me to eat lunch with you, I would have somewhere to eat.”

The performers used poetry to touch on a topic gone untended for too long. I will be teaching secondary math in a rural town in South Carolina next year and using the voices of youth to move and change society will be something that I take with me to the classroom. Hearing what this group had to say about teachers and society as a whole, my heart kept saying that there is a lot of work to be done. As teachers, we need to care for students, no matter what race, ethnic background, SES, risk status, academic success, etc, etc. We need to care about their future, about what they think about themselves, about how they view the rest of the world, and about how they want to change the world. If teachers could take this message and use it daily, we would have a very different population of adolescents than we do now. Putting that extra effort and extra heart when tough times arise can change everything.

As I look forward to the next few months and how I will train myself to be a competent, confident teacher, I think of the lofty goals I have for my students. I want to be a person who speaks out for them, like this performance group did. I want them to be able to speak out for themselves, in a world where their voice can be heard and they feel respected. I have a message to bring. I may not be using poetry, but the point is important. With the right approach, we can supply youth the hope they need to fight obstacles they’ll experience.

For more information about First Wave Hip Hop, please see their website

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

By Michelle Silver

Every year as the year winds down I start thinking about areas for improvement in my life. Not surprisingly, I am able to come up with quite a long list of changes I hope to make for the coming year. Many of them are the common resolutions such as exercising more regularly, eating healthier, etc. While these all sound great in my head, I, like 92% of people, am guilty of breaking many of my New Year’s resolutions. This year as I am starting to think about my resolutions, I want to make a change so that I am actually able to keep them. When I look back and consider what went wrong in the past year that lead me to break my resolutions, a few things come to mind. First, I have unrealistic expectations and pick too many goals for myself. Second, my goals tend to be fairly generic and are not necessarily specific to me. Third, I either pick goals that are far too difficult to achieve, or those that don’t challenge me enough. This year I am committed to changing this.

New Year’s resolutions are not much different than regular goals, in that they should be meaningful and challenging, yet still realistic. When deciding which resolution to focus on I have been considering which values are most important to me. The first thing that comes to mind is friends and family.  As a busy graduate student I have had a difficult time keeping in touch with my friends and family. This coming year I hope to do a better job keeping in touch with them. This goal will challenge me since I know my life will still be very busy in the coming year, yet I still believe keeping in better touch is feasible, since it can be accomplished by something as simple as short text message, phone call, or email. I have chosen to start with just one New Year’s resolution so that I can focus my time and efforts and hopefully achieve my goal.

Whatever your New Year’s resolution(s) may be I hope you consider picking at least one that means a lot to you and that you are committed to achieving. Good luck!13043317-goals-setting-concept-in-word-tag-cloud-on-white-background

What Does a Successful Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program Look Like?

By Michelle Silver

When we go to the doctor for pain or a problem, we want something that will make us feel better immediately. Parents don’t like seeing their children suffering, so they too push for an immediate remedy. Today, that remedy often consists of prescription drugs. The average American has gone from seven prescription drugs annually to twelve. Last April, I too was guilty of going to the doctor looking for a cure for my extremely painful spasming neck. I spent no longer than five minutes talking to my primary care physician about my pain, when she sent my prescription of 30 tablets with codeine off to CVS. At the time I was thankful for some prescription relief, however, looking back, 30 tablets of codeine seems excessive.  I consider myself a responsible young adult, and therefore discarded my 20 extra codeine tablets, however, I know people who would have done differently. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate for my doctor to give me a week’s supply, and had I still been in pain and needed more, then required me to come back for a follow-up visit and prescription.

It seems to me that physicians are fueling the country’s prescription drug abuse problem. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who should be taking prescription drugs for different conditions and do so responsibly, but it seems rather dangerous to be overprescribing in such large quantities to an especially vulnerable population like teenagers and young adults. Maybe instead of focusing intervention efforts on appropriate disposal methods which I know from experience get little to know attention from adolescents, a more reasonable approach would be to reeducate physicians about prescribing. Most physicians mean well by prescribing and are so rushed in their day to day patient visits that over prescribing can help save time for both the physician and the patients. However, physicians must be reminded of the negative consequences over prescribing can have and the fact that prescription drug abuse and addiction is on the rise, especially among adolescents.


Photography as a Route to Escape Mental Illness

By Michelle Silver

Mental health disorders are far too common today. Their lifetime prevalence among children under 18 is 46.7% for any mental illness, 21.4% of whom suffer with severe, debilitating disorders that affect life activities. The most common mental disorders for children under 15 are ADHD, mood disorders, and major depression, however, these disorders as well as many others affect roughly 43.7 million adults over the age of 18. Mental illness can leave people confused, lost, and helpless.

In the modern era of technology, a new way to cope with mental illness has emerged. It involves using photography as an escape from the everyday struggles with different mental diagnoses. The Broken Light Collective is an online photo gallery started by a young woman with depression that displays pictures taken but people from all over the world affected by mental illness. The goal of the gallery is to inspire each other, let people know you are never alone, and provide a positive distraction for the tough times. Many people that contribute to the gallery have found the act of photography to be therapeutic and instantly rewarding. Anybody with a mental illness or who helps people with a mental illness is welcome to contribute, regardless of skill level.

This isn’t the first time people have turned to photography to give people a sense of hope for the future. Photovoice is a hands-on photography method where people are sent into their community with a camera. After photos are taken, short narratives are added to each photo, followed by discussion. Photovoice helps participants gain a better understanding of their community and provide a sense of hope for the future. Photovoice is often used in underprivileged communities in order to help empower people to make a change.


The Importance of Child Injury Prevention

By Michelle Sliver

This week a national campaign by the Child Injury Prevention Alliance (CIPA) has been dedicated to preventing child injury. Injuries are the leading cause of death of children 0-19 and account for 9 million emergency department visits, 9,000 deaths, and more than $11.5 billion dollars annually (CDC). Somehow injury treatment is the number one cost of medical spending for children, yet many child injuries are preventable and predictable.

One might ask how we can predict and prevent random unintentional child injuries. We must focus our prevention efforts to those we know are at a greater risk for injury. Child injuries are nearly twice as likely to occur among boys than girls. Children of lower SES, certain minority populations (American Indians and Alaska Natives), and those living in the southern part of the U.S. are also at a greater risk. Some injuries are more common for different ages, such as suffocation for children under 1, drowning’s among children ages 1-4, and traffic occupancy accidents for those 5-19.

Here are a few ways to prevent the most common unintentional child injuries:

  • Burns-Install smoke detectors, cook safely and away from kids, create a fire escape plan, and monitor water heater temperatures
  • Drownings-Parents should learn to swim and CPR, fence off swimming pools, supervise constantly, and always make sure kids are wearing life jackets
  • Falls-Supervise at home, on the playground, and while kids are playing
  • Poisonings-Lock up medications and toxic substances, get rid of medications you don’t need, always read the label, and keep the poison control center phone number near phones
  • Road traffic injuries-Make sure children use the correct car seat or booster seat and that they are always buckled in in the back seat
  • Sports injuries-Use protective gear, monitor the temperature, and demonstrate appropriate and safe behavior
  • Suffocation-Parents should know basic first aid and CPR, always cut food into small pieces and supervise mealtime, and create a safe sleeping environment

Once a child injury has occurred, there’s no guarantee that they will make a full recovery, which is why prevention is essential. We must educate ourselves, parents, and children about how to make smart choices and take every step possible to prevent child injury. Each and every one of us has the power to help decrease the risk of a child getting hurt.

photo 1          photo 2