Recent Publications

Our Division members’ research is frequently accepted for inclusion in the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals. Below you will find the most recent publications. Abstracts are updated daily.

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Character Strengths Profiles in Medical Professionals and Their Impact on Well-Being.

Front Psychol. 2020;11:566728

Authors: Huber A, Strecker C, Kachel T, Höge T, Höfer S

Abstract
Character strengths profiles in the specific setting of medical professionals are widely unchartered territory. This paper focused on an overview of character strengths profiles of medical professionals (medical students and physicians) based on literature research and available empirical data illustrating their impact on well-being and work engagement. A literature research was conducted and the majority of peer-reviewed considered articles dealt with theoretical or conceptually driven 'virtues' associated with medical specialties or questions of ethics in patient care (e.g., professionalism, or what makes a good physician). The virtues of compassion, courage, altruism, and benevolence were described most often. Only a limited number of papers addressed character strengths of medical students or physicians according to the VIA-classification. Those articles showed that the VIA-character strengths fairness, honesty, kindness, and teamwork were considered most often by respondents to be particularly important for the medical profession. Available cross-sectional (time span: six years) and longitudinal (time span: three years) data regarding VIA-character strengths profiles of medical professionals were analyzed (N = 584 medical students, 274 physicians). These profiles were quite homogenous among both groups. The character strengths fairness, honesty, judgment, kindness, and love had the highest means in both samples. Noteworthy differences appeared when comparing medical specialties, in particular concerning general surgeons and psychiatrists, with the former reporting clearly higher levels of e.g., honesty (d = 1.02) or prudence (d = 1.19). Long-term results revealed significant positive effects of character strengths on well-being and work engagement (e.g., perseverance on physicians' work engagement) but also significant negative effects (e.g., appreciation of beauty and excellence on students' well-being). Further, hope was significantly associated both positively with physicians' well-being and negatively with students' work engagement, possibly indicating specific issues concerning medical education or hospital working conditions. According to the modern-day physician's pledge, medical professionals should pay attention to their own well-being and health. Therefore, promoting self-awareness and character building among medical professionals could be a beneficial strategy.

PMID: 33424679 [PubMed]

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Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: An international study.

PLoS One. 2020;15(12):e0244809

Authors: Gloster AT, Lamnisos D, Lubenko J, Presti G, Squatrito V, Constantinou M, Nicolaou C, Papacostas S, Aydın G, Chong YY, Chien WT, Cheng HY, Ruiz FJ, Garcia-Martin MB, Obando-Posada DP, Segura-Vargas MA, Vasiliou VS, McHugh L, Höfer S, Baban A, Dias Neto D, Nunes da Silva A, Monestès JL, Alvarez-Galvez J, Paez-Blarrina M, Montesinos F, Valdivia-Salas S, Ori D, Kleszcz B, Lappalainen R, Ivanović I, Gosar D, Dionne F, Merwin RM, Kassianos AP, Karekla M

Abstract
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic triggered vast governmental lockdowns. The impact of these lockdowns on mental health is inadequately understood. On the one hand such drastic changes in daily routines could be detrimental to mental health. On the other hand, it might not be experienced negatively, especially because the entire population was affected.
METHODS: The aim of this study was to determine mental health outcomes during pandemic induced lockdowns and to examine known predictors of mental health outcomes. We therefore surveyed n = 9,565 people from 78 countries and 18 languages. Outcomes assessed were stress, depression, affect, and wellbeing. Predictors included country, sociodemographic factors, lockdown characteristics, social factors, and psychological factors.
RESULTS: Results indicated that on average about 10% of the sample was languishing from low levels of mental health and about 50% had only moderate mental health. Importantly, three consistent predictors of mental health emerged: social support, education level, and psychologically flexible (vs. rigid) responding. Poorer outcomes were most strongly predicted by a worsening of finances and not having access to basic supplies.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that on whole, respondents were moderately mentally healthy at the time of a population-wide lockdown. The highest level of mental health difficulties were found in approximately 10% of the population. Findings suggest that public health initiatives should target people without social support and those whose finances worsen as a result of the lockdown. Interventions that promote psychological flexibility may mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

PMID: 33382859 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Dual-Mechanism ERK1/2 Inhibitors Exploit a Distinct Binding Mode to Block Phosphorylation and Nuclear Accumulation of ERK1/2.

Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 02;19(2):525-539

Authors: Kidger AM, Munck JM, Saini HK, Balmanno K, Minihane E, Courtin A, Graham B, O'Reilly M, Odle R, Cook SJ

Abstract
The RAS-regulated RAF-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signaling pathway is frequently deregulated in cancer due to activating mutations of growth factor receptors, RAS or BRAF. Both RAF and MEK1/2 inhibitors are clinically approved and various ERK1/2 inhibitors (ERKi) are currently undergoing clinical trials. To date, ERKi display two distinct mechanisms of action (MoA): catalytic ERKi solely inhibit ERK1/2 catalytic activity, whereas dual mechanism ERKi additionally prevents the activating phosphorylation of ERK1/2 at its T-E-Y motif by MEK1/2. These differences may impart significant differences in biological activity because T-E-Y phosphorylation is the signal for nuclear entry of ERK1/2, allowing them to access many key transcription factor targets. Here, we characterized the MoA of five ERKi and examined their functional consequences in terms of ERK1/2 signaling, gene expression, and antiproliferative efficacy. We demonstrate that catalytic ERKi promote a striking nuclear accumulation of p-ERK1/2 in KRAS-mutant cell lines. In contrast, dual-mechanism ERKi exploits a distinct binding mode to block ERK1/2 phosphorylation by MEK1/2, exhibit superior potency, and prevent the nuclear accumulation of ERK1/2. Consequently, dual-mechanism ERKi exhibit more durable pathway inhibition and enhanced suppression of ERK1/2-dependent gene expression compared with catalytic ERKi, resulting in increased efficacy across BRAF- and RAS-mutant cell lines.

PMID: 31748345 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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