Embracing a cultural perspective into Prevention Science

In this blog, Dr Giovanni Aresi will discuss some reasons why adopting a cultural perspective is important for prevention scientists.

The 2018 conference was the first time I came in contact with the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR). As I have done (so far) little in terms of preventive intervention development, implementation and evaluation, I was actually unsure whether or not my work on alcohol drinking cultures (i.e., schema of beliefs, practices, and values maintained by a cultural group or society regarding alcohol use) would fit into the scope of the EUSPR. I was therefore very surprised when I learnt that I was awarded the 2018 early career award for outstanding promise based on poster presentation. On second thought, in a socio-ecological perspective, culture is an important level of influence to health outcomes, and therefore needs to be taken into consideration during all stages of intervention. This makes culture an important object of interest for EUSPR members. Continue reading

ECF events at the EUSPR 2018 conference – a review

In this blog, Early Career Forum (ECF) members give an overview of the ECF events at the 9th Conference and Members’ Meeting of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR)Read on if you would like to know more about what you have missed if you could not attend and get an idea the ECF events you could take advantage of at the 2019 EUSPR conference in Ghent, Belgium.

The 9th EUSPR took place in Lisbon, Portugal between the 24th and the 26th October 2018. The conference celebrated multiple premieres: (1) the EUSPR conference received more submissions than ever before (2) the EUSPR sponsored a total of 20 early career bursaries (opposed to 15 bursaries in 2017) to attend the conference, as well as the pre-conference workshop and our networking event – many thanks!! (3) two pre-conference workshops were delivered (opposed to one in 2017). In sum, the EUSPR Early Careers Forum (ECF) was represented at the conference with at least one ECF event each day. Continue reading

Go abroad – here is how to take the first step

In this blog, Dr Samuel Tomczyk, EUSPR ECF Lead offers us insights on exchange opportunities in the Unites States for early career researchers in the field of prevention. Inspiring discussions on this topic with prominent professors at the Washington State University took place at the 9th EUSPR conference and members’ meeting this October. Read on if you would like to know more.

Nowadays, international experience is no longer an advantage, but almost a prerequisite for most career paths. In scientific areas of work, scholarly exchange and international research collaborations are often important requirements for attractive post-doctoral employment and long-term careers. Continue reading

My first experiences in alcohol use research: recommendations for early career researchers

In this article, Joella shares her first experiences of working as a research assistant on a research placement at the University of Balearic Islands alongside the Research Group in Data Analysis.The project that Joella is currently working on focuses on young people’s alcohol use, specifically in the psychosocial evaluation of alcohol use in young people of Palma de Mallorca. This evaluation includes the assessment of risky alcohol use, attitudes towards alcohol use and socioeconomic status. Joella’s role in this study is to coordinate and implement data collection. It is hoped that throughout the placement Joella will gain essential research and project management skills that will help her pursue a PhD in prevention research. Joella concludes with some key recommendations for other early career researchers who are trying to gain experience in their field.

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Representing the voice of early-career preventionists: introducing the new Lead of the EUSPR Early Careers Forum

In today’s blog post, we introduce Samuel Tomczyk, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Greifswald, who will be the new Lead of the Early Careers Forum (ECF) of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR), starting in September 2017. We also say good-bye to the outgoing Lead and initiator of the Forum, Angelina Brotherhood, doctoral researcher at the University of Vienna. Through a written interview, they both reflect on their careers so far and their role within the ECF.

How did you start working in prevention research?

Samuel: Well, having finished my master’s degree in psychology, I was interested in continuing the academic track. Continue reading

Informing prevention through big data – The Global Drug Survey

This month’s blog post comes from Larissa Maier, who is voluntarily involved in the Global Drug Survey (GDS) besides her actual job, believing that this engagement can make a difference. In this blog post, she describes how she joined the GDS and shares the very first results from the GDS2017. She concludes with her view on how these results relate to global drug prevention. 

Most early career researchers start their careers by focusing on one main research question to become an expert in that specific area of research. In my case, my PhD studies addressed the prevalence and patterns of substance use for cognitive enhancement. However, after having developed a questionnaire on recreational drug use in Swiss nightlife settings as part of my master thesis, I remained connected to the Swiss projects aimed at early detection of harmful substance use. Having been a regular clubber myself back then, I could link my personal observations in the field to the data derived from the questionnaires. My knowledge about local and national drug use habits of recreational drug users increased sharply. A logical next step was joining the Global Drug Survey (GDS) to understand the superior picture and to put my findings into context. In this blog post, I will tell you more about how I became a member of the GDS Core Research Team and how our findings contribute to the prevention of harmful substance use among youth and adults across the world. Continue reading

How to motivate incarcerated youth? Issues of an early-career researcher

This month’s contribution comes from Aniek van Herwaarden, who is a graduate student at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She is involved in research projects which address behavioral problems in youth with mild intellectual disabilities. In this blog post, she evaluates her experiences as an early-career researcher in this field.

As I am currently working as a student assistant on a project for youth who are resident in juvenile institutions, several ethical, practical and societal issues cross my mind. In this blog post, I will describe some of these issues. In particular, motivation of incarcerated youth and being an early-career researcher are two of the major difficulties I encountered during my work at the juvenile institution.

How to make your participants as excited as you are about your research?

Within the research project “Change Your Mindset! – Forensic Care”, a newly developed, short-term, on-line intervention program is being carried out. This project is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and Pluryn in The Netherlands, by principal investigator Petra Helmond. The intervention targets at changing the participant’s mindset from a fixed mindset to a so-called “growth-mindset”. The latter includes a way of thinking in possibilities and growth, rather than pessimism and disabilities (see also: Yeager & Dweck, 20121).

As a researcher, you would think this program sells itself: it is on-line, it contains fast videos and interactive animations, it involves peers who have been in prison as well, and gadgets (rewards) are provided after each session. Unfortunately, practice shows differently. Continue reading

  1. Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302-314. []

Prevention science in its struggle for a better reputation

In this month’s blog post, Sanela Talič will share her experience in her work as a prevention scientist. Sanela is the Head of Prevention at Institute for Research and Development UTRIP in Slovenia and currently also a PhD student of prevention science at University of Zagreb. In this blog, she will address the importance of acknowledging prevention research as a distinct science.

The year 2006, the time when I first entered the field of prevention. When I look back, it was like a love at first sight. But beginnings are often not easy. Imagine a baby taking his first steps. Awkward steps, lots of downs and ups but determined to continue mainly due to the richness of this field. People I met at this “first stage” of my prevention career were talking in specific jargon and I admit… back then a special “prevention dictionary” would have saved me from unenviable situations. Often I was giving the impression that I totally understand them and agree with them but at the same time there was only one question in my head: “For God’s sake, what are these people talking about?” But that didn’t stop me from “digging deeper” as I wanted to broaden my horizons. Because very soon I realised that prevention is one of those fields where learning never ends. Continue reading

The seven “deadly traps” for an early-career researcher (from my own notebook)

Maria Rosaria Galanti is a Professor in Public Health Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. In this article, she provides her insights into the seven “deadly sins” that she feels she could have avoided as an early career researcher.

And suddenly I was full-time in research… September 1992, 38 years old and an honorable career as a Medical Doctor behind me. Three and a half years later I was a graduate, thereafter a licensed researcher and with time a respected member of one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world. All this went so quickly that I did not have the time to consider my mistakes or to complain for what I could have done better.

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The non-existent bridge between research and practice

In today’s contribution, Miriam Blikmans, research master student at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, shares some thoughts on how she has experienced the gap between the worlds of research and practice during her first year in the academic world.

How it all began

My first serious encounter with research took place while I was conducting my bachelor thesis abroad. During a period of three months, the University of Örebro in Sweden gave me the opportunity to take a look into the world of research. I learned a lot: how to come to an innovative research topic, how to conduct more advanced statistical techniques, but most of all it taught me the power of research. During my study on the effectiveness of parenting programs for children with externalizing behaviour, I found that the reduction in children’s problem behaviour was partly due to a decrease in parenting stress. Although being overall effective, not all families benefit from these programs. I thought this insight into parenting stress as a working mechanism might help increase the effectiveness of these parenting programmes and therefore it could make a difference in the lives of certain families. Of course, I was a little naive Continue reading