Selection of current research projects

Institute for Health and Development
logo
Ruhr-University Bochum » Faculties of the Ruhr-University » Faculty of Psychology » IHD » Selection of current research projects

Selection of current research projects

 

 

The Bochum und Duisburg cohort study on child development (PI: Axel Schölmerich)

The Bochum/Duisburg cohort study is a prospective-longitudinal birth cohort study which was initiated in 1999 when one ton of dioxinated dust leaked from a recycling firm in the south of Duisburg. A total of 232 women and their children have been followed up (at age 12 months, 18 months, 24 months and annually since the age 6-7 years) to investigate the long-term effects of environmental pollutants on child development, including cognitive development, attentional performance, social cognition and child psychiatric disorders. In 2010 the cohort was enlarged and additional 359 mother–child pairs from Bochum were recruited. In the next follow-up phase, we will address the question whether pre- and postnatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) leads to changes in DNA methylation, and whether the effects of exposure to EDCs on developmental outcomes are mediated via epigenetic modifications.
www.epsy.psy.rub.de/forschung/Kohortenstudie

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Bridging cultures –integration of young refugee children (PI: Birgit Leyendecker)

Since 2015 an increasing number of refugee children arrived in Germany. The federal government aims to facilitate these children’s access to German culture and language as early as possible. So-called Bridging Projects have been established to facilitate refugee children’s transition to public daycare centers. The goal of this study is to evaluate the integration of these children both into bridging projects and into daycare centers, to assess their as well as their parents’ psychosocial resources, and to provide support and information for daycare teachers. Methods include interviews, online/offline questionnaires, and observations. The study is funded by the Ministry of Family Affairs of North-Rhine Westfalia (MFKJKS). We cooperate with the University of Paderborn.
www.epsy.psy.rub.de/forschung/Kulturen

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Language and development in early childhood education and care: SEIKA-NRW (PI: Birgit Leyendecker)

In an increasingly diverse society, early language development is a focal point of early childhood education and care. Promotion of language development is considered to be most efficient if it is practiced the entire day and integrated into all dyadic and group activities. The objective of SEIKA-NRW is to identify the factors that are most effective in promoting children’s language and overall development. In this project funded by the Ministry of Family Affairs of North-Rhine Westfalia (MFKJKS), we study the impact of additional funding on language and overall development over time in Kitas (daycare centers). The set-up of this study is a natural laboratory. About half of the 9.600 Kitas in this state receive additional funding. The distribution of these financial resources through the regional youth services reveals a very similar overall pattern, yet we find sufficient deviation to permit propensity score matching. This allows us to identify so-called triplets. Each triplet consists of 3 Kitas which are almost identical on roughly 100 variables yet differ in regard to the funding – no additional funding, some additional funding, or generous additional funding. The study started with a cross-sectional sample of 2000 children and will continue with a longitudinal sample of up to 1000 children, their caregivers, mothers and fathers over the course of three years.
www.seika-nrw.de/studie/ziele/index.html

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

English and Romanian Adoptees Study (PI: Robert Kumsta, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, University of Southampton)

The ERA study was established in the early 1990s by Professor Sir Michael Rutter at King`s College London, and is currently led by Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, University of Southampton. Robert Kumsta has been part oft he ERA team since 2007. The ERA study is concerned with the developmental trajectories of children who spent their first years in life in extremely depriving Romanian institutions and were then adopted by families in the UK. It is the largest and most comprehensive developmental study of this cohort of children. It has been assessed at ages 4, 6, 11, 15, and 23 years, and has provided seminal insights into the effect of early global deprivation. Currently, a large scale follow-up study is under way, which includes detailed clinical phenotyping, structural and functional brain imaging, and the study of gene-environment interaction and epigenetics.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Stress and gene expression (PI: Robert Kumsta)

Adverse childhood experiences can increase susceptibility to mental and physical illness across the life-span. Critically involved in these mechanisms is our stress system, suggested to be both a target for environmental influences and a mediator of the relationship between early-life events and health in adulthood. We are interested in the involved mechanisms: which molecular pathways are targeted by early adversity and what are the down-stream consequences of additional stress exposure? Our goal is to identify molecular pathways targeted by early adverse experience by examining epigenetic alterations and global changes in gene expression patterns in response to experimentally induced psychosocial stress.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Trauma-associated biomarker in affective disorders (PI: Robert Kumsta)

Here, we investigate gene expression and DNA methylation patterns in patients with affective disorder and aim to identify transcripts that can distinguish between patients with and without history of childhood trauma.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 

 

Active against pain (PI: Silvia Schneider & Tanja Hechler)

This study funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) examines the defensive responses in children and adolescents with chronic headache and abdominal pain according to the Threat Imminence Model. That is, in children with chronic pain disorders, interoceptive sensations accompanying the pain experience may become conditioned stimuli which elicit conditioned defensive responses, leading to aggravated pain, disability, and anxious apprehension followed by avoidance behavior. The study is a cooperation with Prof. Dr. Tanja Hechler, Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Trier. Data collection is conducted at the RUB Mental Health Research and Treatment Center (MHRTC), where a total of 150 adolescents aged 11-18 years will undergo a broad psychophysiological assessment protocol using a state-of-the-art multimodal assessment approach consisting of self-report, peripheral physiological reactivity, including skin conductance level, heart rate and startle potentiation.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

EssMe: Eating disorders and the media (PI: Silvia Schneider & Simone Munsch)

Exposure to thin ideals via mass media plays an important role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders, low self-esteem, depressive or anxious feelings in young females. This study funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), investigates the effect of exposure to mass media on the satisfaction with one’s own body and body image in young women with eating disorders. The multi-site cross- and longitudinal experimental trial is a cooperation with Prof. Dr. Simone Munsch, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland. The ongoing data collection of 250 female participants is taking place in multiple centers in Switzerland and Germany. Understanding the role of cognitive distortions and emotion regulation in eating disorders and other mental disorders will help to specify interventions aiming at the restructuring of irrational beliefs about eating and shape and to further develop interventions to train specific components of emotion regulation.

http://www.kli.psy.rub.de/klipsy/projekte/essme.html

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

PROTECT-AD / KibA-study (PI: Silvia Schneider & Jürgen Margraf)

Core of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) sponsored research consortium are two clinical studies investigating extinction learning in children and adults. The multi-center randomized therapy study with children with anxiety disorders, coordinated and managed at the RUB Mental Health Research and Treatment Center (MHRTC), aims to clarify how and to which extent extinction learning within exposure therapy can be improved when parents are integrated into the psychotherapy treatment of their child. A total of 400 children between 8 to 14 years of age with an anxiety disorder are examined at the centers of Bochum, Dresden, Marburg and Würzburg.

Kiba-studie.de
protect-ad.de  

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

BOOM: Bochum Optimism and Mental Health Studies (PI: Jürgen Margraf & Silvia Schneider)

The BOOM studies, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, aim to identify causal protective and risk factors for positive mental health as well as for depression, anxiety and stress. In transcultural, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, potentially significant predictors are examined with a combination of epidemiological, experimental, psychological and intervention approaches. So far, cross-sectional and first longitudinal data of student and representative samples from Germany, Russia, China and the United States have been collected (N ≈ 40 000), data collection in Pakistan is in preparation. The various methodological approaches enable the investigation of the influence of different research methods and provide information on the cross-cultural invariance of the investigated constructs and instruments. Initial results show that life satisfaction, resilience, optimism, happiness and social support have a salutogenic effect across cultures and at the same time act as a buffer against negative effects of stress and psychopathological symptoms. In addition, significant transcultural differences have been found: in Germany psychological symptoms decrease with age, while they show an increase in Russia. Pronounced differences are also found in personal values, which are significantly related to mental health.

http://www.kli.psy.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/klipsy/projekte/boom.html

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Unwanted effects of psychotherapy (PI: Jürgen Margraf & Saskia Scholten)

Reliable information about the advantages but also risks and unwanted effects of psychotherapy should be accessible to the general public. The aim of this study funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is to gather information from anonymous reports, organize and publish the information in order to enhance the knowledge of risks and unwanted effects of psychotherapy. A website (www.psychotherapie-nebenwirkungen.de) where patients as well as therapists can anonymously report unwanted effects will go online shortly. Additionally, the user can complete an online version of the Inventory for the Assessment of Negative Effects in Psychotherapy (Inventar zur Erfassung negativer Effekte in der Psychotherapie (INEP); Ladwig, Rief, & Nestoriuc, 2014). The results will be visualized and presented online. Additionally, the INEP was assessed in a clinical reference sample at the RUB Research and Treatment Center for Mental Health to compare data with the results of the website. Finally, patient malpractice claims to the Chamber of Psychotherapy in North Rhein–Westphalia were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively for an overview of common malpractice claims.

www.psychotherapie-nebenwirkungen.de

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Cognitive Bias Modification (PI: Marcella Woud, Simon Blackwell & Jürgen Margraf)

This research project investigates the modification of cognitive biases and other aspects of automatic information processing via a specially developed training method (Cognitive Bias Modification, CBM; Attention Bias Modification, Interpretation Bias Modification). The effects of these training paradigms will be investigated in patients suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder (PD), and rumination (chronic brooding), as well as in inpatients receiving psychiatric treatment and non-clinical analog samples. Financial support is provided via the German Research Foundation (DFG), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Daimler and Benz Foundation.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Long term follow-up of psychological therapies (PI: Jürgen Margraf & Ruth von Brachel)

Remarkably little information is available on the long-term success of psychotherapy. Studies usually cover a period of 6 months to a maximum of two years, which is too short considering the relapse rates of mental disorders and the occurrence of critical life events as a risk for relapse. Therefore, 5 to 20 years after the end of therapy, former patients of the adult outpatient clinics of the RUB Mental Health Research and Treatment Center were invited for follow-up assessment. The project has three aims. First, we want to examine the long-term success of treatment on different outcome measures such as mental health, stress symptoms and quality of life in a heterogeneous sample of patients. Second, we strive to identify predictors of long-term treatment success. Third, we want to determine how successful or unsuccessful therapies are in the context of their impact on patients’ relatives during the above-named interval. Until now, about 120 former patients and 35 partners of patients have been recruited for the study. The study is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Genetic factors in exposure treatments of Anxiety Disorders (Therapygenetics). (PI: Jürgen Margraf, Tobias Teismann & Thalia Eley)

There is a considerable degree of variability in the response to exposure treatments for anxiety disorders and the knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of treatment response is still limited. Within a biopsychosocial framework, genetic factors are expected be related to these mechanisms. In cooperation with Prof. Thalia Eley (King's College London) and funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, we investigate genetic and epigenetic correlates of response to exposure treatments in patients who were previously treated with exposure therapy for panic disorder or phobia (including dental phobia).

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Jena Paradies: Exposure training for patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia in primary care (PI: Jochen Gensichen (Jena) & Jürgen Margraf)

The data collection and analysis of the Jena-Paradies study (funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF) has been completed. In 73 general practices, the practice team (general practitioner and health care assistant) treated a total of 419 adult patients with panic disorder or agoraphobia. The intervention group received a combination of practice-team supported psychoeducation and self-directed exposure training. In the control group, patients received usual care (TAU: "Treatment As Usual"). The primary measure of improvement was the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) at baseline and at 6- and 12-month follow-up assessments. With mixed linear models (controlled for practices as a cluster variable), 230 patients from 36 practices in the intervention group and 189 patients from 37 practices in the control group were compared. The improvements in the BAI were significantly greater in the intervention group (allocation-by-time interaction, P = 0.008). Although the differential treatment effects were not substantial (at 12-month follow-up assessment 4 BAI points difference; Cohen f2 = 0.012), this very low-cost minimal intervention is of practical clinical importance.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

A large group exposure treatment (PI: Jürgen Margraf & Andre Wannemüller)

This project, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, develops new approaches for the simultaneous treatment of large groups of anxious patients ("very large group treatment protocol"). The aim of the project is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the RUB large group intervention program in the treatment of spider fear, dental anxiety and blood-injury-injection phobia. Furthermore, based on saliva samples, we will investigate the presence and the nature of certain candidate genes (i.e., BDNF Val66Met, COMTval158met) and their association with treatment outcome as well with variables of a conditioning paradigm implemented in a large group design. The recent results proved feasibility in 79 spider fearful, 43 dental anxious and 40 blood-injury-injection fearful subjects. The program provides an efficient method for fast collection of treatment data for basic studies.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Macrosocial factors and mental health (PI: Jürgen Margraf & Saskia Scholten)

Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, this study with the working title “Justice Study” investigated the relationship between macrosocial variables and mental distress in a cross-cultural comparison across eight countries. The macrosocial variables justice, freedom, wealth and social connectedness were assessed objectively and subjectively. For objective assessment, we used indicators that exist at the country level and which operationalize macrosocial variables as aggregated indices. For the subjective evaluation of macrosocial variables, representative samples were interviewed in France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Mental distress was assessed in all countries and cross-cultural measurement invariance was tested for the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS).

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 


 

Clinical Sex Research: The "Venus studies" (PI: Julia Velten & Jürgen Margraf)

Since 2013, several sexual psychological research projects under the title "Venus Study: Understanding Female Sexuality" are conducted at RUB. The aim of the Venus studies is the scientific study of sexual behavior, sexual problems and personality variables especially in women. In 2015, several projects were completed and newly designed and started: Venus Online (Internet-based survey on female sexuality with over 2,200 women), Venus Laboratory (sexual psychological laboratory study with 72 participants on predictors of sexual arousal of women) and Venus Duo (population-representative sample of nearly 1,000 couples across Germany on couple-related influences on sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction). The Venus studies are supported by the Alexander Humboldt Foundation.

Zum Seitenanfang   Top of the page

 

 

 

Banner: Woman science technologist in laboratory: © Sergey Nivens / Fotolia.com - Babies sitting with alphabet blocks: © Blend Images / Fotolia.com - Therapist speaking to a rehab group: © WavebreakMediaMicro / Fotolia.com - doctor with clipboard and senior woman at hospital: © Syda Productions / Fotolia.com