Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Assessing the Clinical Usefulness of Three Tablet-Based Visuomotor Tasks to Evaluate Closed Head Injury
Evidence suggests that visuomotor system behaviour may be more sensitive to the prolonged effects of mild brain injuries than neuropsychological tests. We evaluated whether participants with a mild closed head injury (CHI) would show lingering visuomotor deficits, but not cognitive deficits, up to three years post-injury compared to participants with an orthopaedic injury and healthy controls. All three groups completed a tablet-based visuomotor assessment tool and a brief neuropsychological test battery. The CHI participants scored comparable to the control groups on the neuropsychological tests, but when assessed for visuomotor function requiring adjustment to a changing stimulus, CHI participants showed poorer performance than the control groups. Combined, these findings add to the evidence that CHI can lead to persistent visuomotor deficits that extend beyond those of neuropsychological tests. Therefore, visuomotor assessment should be included in brain injury and recovery evaluation, and this can be accomplished easily using tablet-based tasks. Author Keywords: closed head injury, neuropsychological assessment, recovery, tablet, traumatic brain injury, visuomotor
We investigated whether hand-proximity effects arise from the recruitment of visual-tactile bimodal cells. In Experiment 1, we executed right-hand open-loop reaching movements to targets, presented either near or far from the resting left-hand, and after applying repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to suppress neuronal activity in the PMd and AIP, in Experiment 2. Results from Experiment 1, indicated that near-hand targets improved accuracy and reduced variability. In Experiment 2, suppressing PMd showed similar near-hand effects as above. In contrast, applying rTMS to AIP disrupted the representation of target location, indicating less accuracy and greater error. Near-hand proximity effects possibly arise from the recruitment of visual-tactile bimodal cells within the human AIP. Author Keywords: anterior intraparietal sulcus, peripersonal space, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), , rTMS, anterior intraparietal sulcus, AIP., visual-tactile bimodal neurons
Stability Properties of Disease Models under Economic Expectations
Comprehending the dynamics of infectious diseases is very important in formulating public health policies to tackling their prevalence. Mathematical epidemiology (ME) has played a very vital role in achieving the above. Nevertheless, classical mathematical epidemiological models do not explicitly model the behavioural responses of individuals in the presence of prevalence of these diseases. Economic epidemiology (EE) as a field has stepped in to fill this gap by integrating economic and mathematical concepts within one framework. This thesis investigated two issues in this area. The methods employed are the standard linear analysis of stability of dynamical systems and numerical simulation. Below are the investigations and the findings of this thesis: Firstly, an investigation into the stability properties of the equilibria of EE models is carried out. We investigated the stability properties of modified EE systems studied by Aadland et al. [6] by introducing a parametric quadratic utility function into the model, thus making it possible to model the maximum number of contacts made by rational individuals to be determined by a parameter. This parameter in particular influences the level of utility of rational individuals. We have shown that if rational individuals have a range of possible contacts to choose from, with the maximum of the number of contacts allowable for these individuals being dependent on a parameter, the variation in this parameter tends to affect the stability properties of the system. We also showed that under the assumption of permanent recovery for disease coupled with individuals observing or not observing their immunity, death and birth rates can affect the stability of the system. These parameters also have effect on the dynamics of the EE SIS system. Secondly, an EE model of syphilis infectivity among &ldquo men who have sex with men &rdquo (MSM) in detention centres is developed in an attempt at looking at the effect of behavioural responses on the disease dynamics among MSM. This was done by explicitly incorporating the interplay of the biology of the disease and the behaviour of the inmates. We investigated the stability properties of the system under rational expectations where we showed that: (1) Behavioural responses to the prevalence of the disease affect the stability of the system. Therefore, public health policies have the tendency of putting the system on indeterminate paths if rational MSM have complete knowledge of the laws governing the motion of the disease states as well as a complete understanding on how others behave in the system when faced with risk-benefit trade-offs. (2) The prevalence of the disease in the long run is influenced by incentives that drive the utility of the MSM inmates. (3) The interplay between the dynamics of the biology of the disease and the behavioural responses of rational MSM tends to put the system at equilibrium quickly as compared to its counterpart (that is when the system is solely dependent on the biology of the disease) when subjected to small perturbation. Author Keywords: economic and mathematical epidemiology models, explosive path, indeterminate-path stability, numerical solution, health gap, saddle-path stability, syphilis,
Sexting and Satisfaction
Sexting was explored in relation to cohabitation status, general and sexual communication, as well as the anxious and avoidant dimensions of attachment. The present study was focused the distinction between lifetime and recent sexting, in an attempt to more accurately assess the relationships between the examined factors and sexting behaviours. Individuals in long-distance relationships were more likely to report recently sexting and engaged more frequently than those in cohabitating relationships, but did not differ in their levels of sexual satisfaction. Recent sexters reported higher levels of sexual communication compared to lifetime sexters, and sexual communication was positively, though weakly, correlated with sexting frequency. The present study was unable to support a predictive relationship between recent sexting and levels of attachment anxiety or avoidance. These results highlight the importance of exploring the context in which sexting occurs, as well as distinguishing between lifetime and recent sexters in future sexting research. Author Keywords: Attachment, Long Distance Relationship, Recent Sexting, Satisfaction, Sexting, Sexual Communication
Social Anxiety and Emotional Competence
Prior research has examined social anxiety, emotional competence (EC) and life adjustment (i.e., loneliness and life satisfaction) using cross-sectional designs, although there is limited information on their association over time. The present study examined the impact of social anxiety on life adjustment and assessed if EC could mediate this relationship from young to middle adulthood. University students (N = 283) completed self-report measures at two time points: in first year university and 15 years later. The results accord with previous research demonstrating the stability and slight decrease of social anxiety over time. Social anxiety in young adulthood was a robust predictor of loneliness in middle adulthood, and a weak predictor of life dissatisfaction for men. Mediation analyses revealed that social anxiety was indirectly associated with interpersonal adjustment via EC, especially the intrapersonal EC domain. Social anxiety requires early intervention and EC may help to prevent later social anxiety and maladjustment. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, life adjustment, social anxiety
Social Communicative Factors as Predictors of Symptom Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while providing many benefits, presents challenges to clinicians such as predicting the stability of symptoms. Accurately predicting symptom severity allows clinicians to confidently diagnose and assign the most appropriate treatment. Little research exists to date to predict symptom severity in children with ASD who have not been exposed to treatment. The present file review examined prelinguistic skills as predictors of symptom severity in a group of young children (age: 18 – 64 months) with ASD (n = 199) who had not been exposed to significant levels of treatment. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that of the two core diagnostic features (social communicative deficits and restricted repetitive behaviours), social communicative skills best predicted symptom severity. Furthermore, social communicative gestures predicted symptom severity after age, adaptive behaviour, restricted repetitive behaviours, and functional gestures had been accounted for. Author Keywords: autism, gestures, predictors, prelinguistic, social communicative, symptom severity
Who Cares? Examining associations between caregiving sensitivity and parent-peer attachment
Although years of research have established that attachment representations are not consistently transmitted from parent to child (also known as the transmission gap), the reasons for this gap remain relatively unknown. This transmission gap exists between parents and peers as well. The purpose of this thesis was to examine the role of caregiving sensitivity in the relationship between parent attachment and peer attachment and to test if caregiving sensitivity helps explains the relationship between parent attachment and peer attachment. This study found support for the transmission of attachment from parent to peers, but not that caregiving sensitivity explains this transmission. Results indicate that parenting caregiving sensitivity questionnaires are inconsistent in assessing the construct of sensitivity. Parenting caregiving sensitivity questionnaires also do not measure the same concepts as peer caregiving sensitivity questionnaires. These findings suggest that assessing caregiving sensitivity in parents differently may help close the transmission gap. Author Keywords: attachment, caregiving, parenting, peer, sensitivity
Role of Media in Shaping Perceptions of HIV and Affecting Engagement in HIV Care
Media has had a significant influence on how individuals living with and at risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) care for their health. This research builds on previous research to explore the link between HIV related media messaging and HIV related health behaviours using a mixed methods approach. To investigate the access to and perceptions of HIV related media, a sample of 129 individuals took part in an online survey and 13 were assessed in follow up semi-structured interviews. People living with HIV, people at risk of HIV, and participants not in those groups differed on a number of HIV media access variables, including the amount of time spent interacting with HIV related media, how they accessed it, and its perceived effects on their HIV related attitudes and behaviours. Interviews explored these differences more, finding that while current HIV related media is less stigmatizing and more factual than the past, most current HIV related media is distributed via social media and is accessed by a relatively small group of HIV specialist viewers. The history of HIV related media continues to play an important role in determining perceptions of HIV related media. Implications of this study will inform strategies for the communication of HIV health messages. Author Keywords: AIDS, HIV, Media and Health, Mixed Methodology, Social Determinants of Health, Social Media
Compression Cone Method on Existence of Solutions for Semi-linear Equations
With wide applications in many fields such as engineering, physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences, semi-linear equations have attracted great interests of researchers from various areas. In the study of existence of solutions for such class of equations, a general and commonly applied method is the compression cone method for fixed-point index. The main idea is to construct a cone in an ordered Banach space based on the linear part so that the nonlinear part can be examined in a relatively smaller region. In this thesis, a new class of cone is proposed as a generalization to previous work. The construction of the cone is based on properties of both the linear and nonlinear part of the equation. As a result, the method is shown to be more adaptable in applications. We prove new results for both semi-linear integral equations and algebraic systems. Applications are illustrated by examples. Limitations of such new method are also discussed. Keywords: Algebraic systems; compression cone method; differential equations; existence of solutions; fixed point index; integral equations; semi-linear equations. Author Keywords: algebraic systems, differential equations, existence of solutions, fixed point index, integral equations, semi-linear equations
Money for Nothing
The strong relationship between poverty and poor health has been well-established for millennia; however, the mechanisms through which this relationship manifests are only recently becoming understood. Perceptions of relative wealth and status, chronic stress, and immunodeficiencies are implicated in recent research studying the social determinants of health. The purpose of the current study is to access the detailed and contextualized perceptions of these relationships and contribute evidence-based policy suggestions to improve the health of the Canadian population. A qualitative approach was employed to provide a unique perspective in addressing the concerns identified within the literature, and fifteen semi-structured interviews with relevant experts were conducted and evaluated using a Content Analysis. The results of the current study suggested a consensus among the participants with regards to the income-related social factors which determine poor health outcomes. A basic income was also perceived to moderate these mechanisms to a certain degree, but was not considered the most effective policy solution. Emulating the progressive tax policies of more economically equal countries was the preferred approach to addressing the issues of poverty and poor health in Canada (though a basic income was not excluded as a potential subsection of these policies). A lack of political will was perceived to be one of the primary obstacles preventing such policies from coming into practice, and it was the conclusion of this paper that virtuous and knowledgeable political leaders are a necessity in the successful pursuit of improving the health of the Canadian people. Author Keywords:
Gratitude is in our nature
Although a wealth of research supports nature’s beneficial effects on well-being, a lack of attentiveness and appreciation for nature may prevent people from fully experiencing nature’s benefits. A mindfulness-based nature intervention was tested across two studies to investigate whether gratitude and mindfulness can boost nature’s effects for well-being. Students completed activities across a one-week (Study 1; N = 129) and two-week (Study 2; N = 130) intervention. Students in both studies experienced significant declines in positive and negative emotion over time. Study 1 did not show the expected increases in gratitude and connection to nature. Study 2 found that students who simply spent time in nature experienced fewer negative emotions and greater increases in trait gratitude than those who were asked to gratefully reflect on their natural surroundings. Both studies found positive correlations between trait gratitude, mindfulness, well- being and connection to nature. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed. Author Keywords: Gratitude, Intervention, Mental Heath, Mindfulness, Nature, Well-being
What’s the trouble with women? Fostering female engagement in substance abuse programming
Although Canada’s healthcare system is designed for everyone to access services regardless of the person’s gender, age, or income, there are significant barriers for individuals accessing substance abuse services that live in areas outside of urban centres (Adbool, et al., 2017; Hardill, 2011). Women are particularly stigmatized by the lack of anonymity in smaller communities and often avoid engaging in substance abuse programs (Ashley, Marsden, & Thomas, 2003). The aim of the current thesis was to explore RedPath, a grassroots initiative in Port Hope, Ontario, geared to engaging individuals and encourage them to participate in substance abuse programming. This initiative employs a member from the community, called an Activator, who is tasked with engaging their peers. A qualitative study was conducted to explore the role of a hired RedPath Activator in facilitating access of female community members with substance abuse issues to services in the Port Hope community. Her role in supporting women was a specific interest, as the selection of a female Activator was a strategy to support the engagement of women to the program. The data was analyzed using a thematic content analysis approach. The most significant of these themes were (1) barriers and challenges in the community and (2) building trust to facilitate engagement and maintain attendance in the program. Author Keywords: activator, community, mental health, substance abuse, woman, women


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