• Correspondence of continuous interstitial glucose measurement against arterialised and capillary glucose following an oral glucose tolerance test in healthy volunteers

      Dye, Louise; Mansfield, Michael; Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Mahawish, Lena; Schnell, Rainer; Talbot, Duncan; Chauhan, Hitesh; Croden, Fiona; Lawton, Clare (2009-08-13)
      The aim of the present study was to validate the Glucodayw continuous interstitial ambulatory glucose-monitoring device (AGD) against plasma glucose measured from arterialised venous (AV) and glucose from capillary whole blood (finger prick, FP) in non-diabetic subjects in response to an oral glucose tolerance test. Fifteen healthy overweight men (age 30–49 years, BMI 26–31 kg/m2 ) participated. Glucose levels were measured before, during and after consumption of an oral 75 g glucose load using twelve FP samples and forty-four 1 ml AV blood samples during 180 min. Interstitial glucose was measured via the AGD. Three venous samples for fasting insulin were taken to estimate insulin resistance. Profiles of AGD, AV and FP glucose were generated for each participant. Glucose values for each minute of the measurement period were interpolated using a locally weighted scatterplot smoother. Data were compared using Bland–Altman plots that showed good correspondence between all pairs of measurements. Concordance between the three methods was 0·8771 (Kendall’s W, n 15, P,0·001). Concordance was greater between AV and FP (W ¼ 0·9696) than AGD and AV (W ¼ 0·8770) or AGD and FP (W ¼ 0·8764). Analysis of time to peak glucose indicated that AGD measures lagged approximately 15 min behind FP and AV measures. Percent body fat was significantly correlated with time to peak glucose levels for each measure, while BMI and estimated insulin resistance (homeostatic model assessment, HOMA) were not. In conclusion, AGD shows good correspondence with FP and AV glucose measures in response to a glucose load with a 15 min time lag. Taking this into account, AGD has potential application in nutrition and behaviour studies.
    • The Effect of Superstitious Thinking on Psychosocial Stress Responses and Perceived Task Performance

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Teo, Wan Yee; University of Chester; James Cook University Singapore (Wiley, 2018-02-18)
      Abstract Previous research on superstition, a subset of paranormal belief, suggests that people tend to invoke luck-related superstitions in stressful situations as an attempt to gain an illusion of control over outcomes. Based on this, the current study examined whether luck-related superstition, in the form of a ‘lucky’ pen, could influence the psychological response to a psychosocial stressor. Participants (N =114) aged between 17 and 59 years (M = 22.98, SD = 4.57) from James Cook University Singapore, were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) no-stress with no ‘lucky’ pen; (2) no-stress with a ‘lucky’ pen; (3) stress with no ‘lucky’ pen; (4) stress with a ‘lucky’ pen. The results revealed that participants provided with a “lucky” pen experienced lower state anxiety when exposed to the stressor. Further, participants provided with a ‘lucky’ pen perceived their performance to be better than those without it. However, superstitious belief did not significantly change following exposure to stress. Taken together, the present findings add some support to the suggestion that belief in transferable luck may facilitate coping with a stressor. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind the potential benefits of superstitious belief.
    • Exploration of basal diurnal salivary cortisol profiles in middle-aged adults: Associations with sleep quality and metabolic parameters

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Hendrickx, Hilde; Talbot, Duncan; Dye, Louise (Elsevier, 2007-09-27)
      The use of saliva samples is a practical and feasible method to explore basal diurnal cortisol profiles in free-living research. This study explores a number of psychological and physiological characteristics in relation to the observed pattern of salivary cortisol activity over a 12-h period with particular emphasis on sleep. Basal diurnal cortisol profiles were examined in a sample of 147 volunteers (mean age 46.2177.18 years). Profiles were constructed for each volunteer and explored in terms of the area under the curve (AUC) of the cortisol-awakening response with samples obtained immediately upon waking (0, 15, 30 and 45 min post waking) and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 h post waking to assess diurnal decline. Diurnal mean of cortisol was based on the mean of cortisol at time points 3, 6, 9 and 12 h post waking. Psychological measures of perceived stress and sleep were collected with concurrent biological assessment of fasting plasma glucose, insulin, blood lipids and inflammatory markers. Blunted cortisol profiles, characterised by a reduced AUC, were observed in the majority (78%) of a middle-aged sample and were associated with significantly poorer sleep quality and significantly greater waist-hip ratio (WHR). Blunted cortisol profiles were further associated with a tendency to exhibit a less favourable metabolic profile. These findings suggest that reduced cortisol secretion post waking may serve as an additional marker of psychological and biological vulnerability to adverse health outcomes in middle-aged adults.
    • An Exploration of the Benefits of Animal-Assisted Activities in Undergraduate Students in Singapore

      Muckle, Jolene; Lasikiewicz, Nicola; University of Chester; James Cook University, Singapore (Wiley, 2017-07-03)
      The rise in psychological problems, attrition and suicide rates of university students has been linked to the stressful challenges faced during university life. To buffer this, Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) may assist in improving psychological and physiological well-being in students, however, to date, there is little empirical evidence for their effectiveness. Consequently, this study explored the psychological and physiological benefits of AAA in a sample of undergraduate students. Sixty-two students from two local universities participated in an hour-long AAA session delivered by Therapy Dogs Singapore (TDS). Measures of perceived stress, anxiety, state self-esteem, and blood pressure (BP) were taken before and after the sessions. The results indicated that students experienced significant decreases in state anxiety, systolic and diastolic BP post AAA, and when compared to a quiet reading comparison session. State self-esteem increased post AAA and, further, was found to moderate the change in anxiety in addition to perceived stress, whereby, perceived anxiety reduced more in those with low state self-esteem and high perceived stress. These results suggest that AAA can be an effective intervention for stress among undergraduate students, which utilizes a novel, easy to implement and enjoyable approach for Singaporean students.
    • Exploring stress-induced cognitive impairment in middle aged, centrally obese adults

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Hendrickx, Hilde; Talbot, Duncan; Dye, Louise (2013-01)
      Extensive research has shown that psychosocial stress can induce cognitive impairment. However, few studies have explored impairment following acute stress exposure in individuals with central obesity. Central obesity co-occurs with glucocorticoid excess and can lead to elevated cortisol responses to stress. It is not clear whether centrally obese individuals exhibit greater cognitive impairment following acute stress. Cortisol responses to stress versus no-stress control were compared in 66 high- and low waist to hip ratio (WHR) middle-aged adults (mean age of 46 ± 7.17 years). Cognitive performance post exposure was assessed using Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery. It was hypothesised that high WHR would exhibit greater cortisol in response to stress exposure and would show poorer cognitive performance. Males, particularly of high WHR, tended to secrete greater cortisol during stress exposure. Exposure to stress and increasing WHR were specifically associated with poorer performance on declarative memory tasks (spatial recognition memory and paired associates learning). These data tentatively suggest a reduction in cognitive performance in those with central obesity following exposure to acute stress. Further research is needed to elucidate the effects of stress on cognition in this population.
    • Ignorance is bliss? Exploring paranormal beliefs, coping and happiness in a UK and Singaporean sample

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; University of Chester (2014-08)
      Previous research has indicated that belief in unusual phenomena and superstitious thinking may increase in times of stress (Keinan 1994; 2002). Further, believers in the paranormal often display avoidant coping strategies with little to no problem solving. These findings may, therefore, reflect a specific coping mechanism for stressful situations. However, little research has explored the possible interaction between the perception of stress and coping style on belief and further, an assessment of perceived happiness. Consequently, the current study aimed to explore possible associations between perceived stress and happiness, coping and paranormal belief. Further, these relationships were explored and compared in a sample of Western (UK) and South East Asian (Singapore) participants. Ninety-two male and female participants aged between 19 and 61 years (mean age=36.56 ± 11.74 years) from the UK and 145 male and female participants aged between 18 and 57 years (mean age=23.03 ± 5.51 years) from Singapore completed an online battery of psychological measures assessing paranormal belief (Revised Paranormal Belief Scale; Tobacyk, 1988), superstitious thinking (Superstitions Questionnaire; Zebb & Moore, 2003), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale, Cohen, 1994), coping (Ways of Coping Revised, Lazarus & Folkman, 1985) and happiness (Oxford Happiness Questionnaire; Hills & Argyle, 2002). Participants were predominantly students recruited using convenience sampling. Data were analysed using a series of backwards enter multiple regression analyses to determine the predictors of paranormal belief. For all participants, level of education (a higher score being indicative of a lower educational qualification), happiness and coping were significant predictors of global paranormal belief (R2=.22, F(6, 225)=10.787; p<.01). Specifically, a lower level of education (β=.20; p<.00) greater happiness (β=.16; p<.05) and coping in the form of low problem solving (β=-.16; p<.05) and greater positive reappraisal (β=.24; p<.00) were associated with greater belief. Further, a lower level of education (β=.13; p<.05) and coping (low problem solving (β=-.18; p<.05) and high distancing (β=.31; p<.00) were associated with significantly greater superstitious thinking (R2=.21, F(7, 224)=8.239; p<.01). In terms of crosscultural differences, paranormal belief was significantly greater in Singaporeans but no significant differences in happiness and perceived stress between the two nations were noted. In terms of predicting belief, level of education was a significant predictor of both global paranormal belief (β=.36; p<.00) and superstitious thinking (β=.25; p<.05) for participants in the UK (R2=.16, F(3, 85)=5.345; p<.01 and R2=.12, F(2, 86)=5.776; p<.01 respectively). For Singaporeans, greater happiness (β=.23; p<.00) significantly predicted greater paranormal belief in addition to low problem solving (β=-.19; p<.05), high avoidance (β=.21; p<.05) and greater distancing (β=.34; p<.00) coping strategies (R2=.22, F(5, 137)=7.832; p<.01). Further, the combination of high perceived stress and low problem solving was also a significant predictor of superstitious thinking in Singaporeans (R2=.27, F(5, 137)=9.919; p<.00; β=-.19; p<.00). The findings support the suggestion that belief in the paranormal may reflect a specific pattern of coping characterised by greater propensity for distancing and avoidance with low problem solving. Further, the combination of high stress and low problem solving may increase the propensity for belief and superstitious thinking, particularly in a South East Asian population. Further research is required to determine whether this apparent coping mechanism is protective or maladaptive in the long run and whether cultural differences may mediate this effect.
    • Manipulation of glycemic response with isomaltulose in a milk-based drink does not affect cognitive performance in healthy adults

      Dye, Louise; Gilsenan, Mary B.; Quadt, Frits; Martens, Vanessa E. G.; Bot, Arjen; Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Camidge, Diana; Croden, Fiona; Lawton, Clare (Wiley, 2010-04-07)
      Previous research suggests that glucoregulation and nutrient interventions, which alter circulating glucose, impact cognitive function. To examine the effect of modulating glycemic response using isomaltulose on cognitive function 24 healthy male adult participants consumed energy and macronutrient-matched milk-based drinks containing 50 g isomaltulose, 50 g sucrose or a water control in a counterbalanced within-subject design. Interstitial glucose was measured continuously in 12 subjects and all provided 9 capillary measures on each test day. A 30-min cognitive test battery was administered before and twice (+35 and +115 min) after drink ingestion. Immediate, delayed, recognition, verbal and working memory, and psychomotor performance were assessed. Glycemic profiles induced by the drinks differed significantly during the first but not the second post-drink test battery. Neither administration of the sucrose nor isomaltulose drinks produced consistent effects on verbal or working memory, or psychomotor performance. This study used isomaltulose as an investigative tool to lower glycemic response. Importantly, it demonstrates a lack of effect of modulating glucose on cognitive performance based on reliable, continuously measured glycemia. It refutes the hypothesis that glycemia is associated with cognitive performance and questions the suggestion that isomaltulose has an effect on cognitive performance.
    • Moving to remote working: a guide for traditional lab-based experiments

      Vaughan, Sarah; Holt, Glenys; Scudds, Annie; Wilkinson, Heather; Lasikiewicz, Nicola; University of Chester
      The aim of our study was to test whether we could move a traditional laboratory-based experiment online without reducing the reliability and validity of the results. To this end, we recorded participants facial expressions using an emotional rating task in which participants rated the unpleasantness of emotional stimuli, as well as the strength of their emotional reaction. We adopted a 2 (group: online versus face-to-face) *2 (conditions: attend and reappraisal) design. Here, we presented a recount of our reflections and decisions made during the process of designing this study to provide readers with 1. the opportunity to reflect on the participant experience in navigating the traditionally laboratory-based paradigm online and without assistance, 2. a discussion of the experience of conducting traditionally laboratory-based experimental research in an online environment and 3. a consideration of the future of experimental psychological methods in the context of increased need for online-based research. We would recommend considering the wider contextual, the unknown or known extraneous variables when developing a design.
    • Perceived Stress, Thinking Style and Paranormal Belief

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; University of Chester (2016-03)
      Paranormal beliefs often become stronger in times of stress. Such beliefs have also been found to vary in accordance with thinking style, whereby stronger beliefs are often observed in experiential thinkers. Little research, however, has explored the interaction between perceived stress and thinking style. 82 males and females aged 18 to 62 years (mean = 29.96 ± 12.53 years) completed measures of perceived stress, thinking style (rational and experiential) and paranormal belief. The results revealed stronger beliefs in experiential thinkers, compared with those with a rational thinking style. Perceived stress alone, was not a prominent predictor of belief but the combination of stress and thinking style, specifically high perceived stress with a rational thinking style, significantly predicted greater global paranormal belief, belief in superstition, traditional religious belief, and belief in psi. High perceived stress appeared to facilitate belief in rational thinkers as conversely, belief was lowest in rational thinkers under conditions of low-perceived stress. These findings suggest that stress may lower the propensity for rational thinking and consequently, encourage belief in scientifically unsubstantiated phenomena. This interaction may have implications for coping during stressful situations.
    • Psychological benefits of weight loss following behavioural and/or dietary weight loss interventions. A systematic research review

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Myrissa, Kyriaki; Hoyland, Alexa; Lawton, Clare; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2014-01-01)
      It is generally accepted that weight loss has significant physiological benefits, such as reduced risk of diabetes, lowered blood pressure and blood lipid levels. However, few behavioural and dietary interventions have investigated psychological benefit as the primary outcome. Hence, systematic review methodology was adopted to evaluate the psychological outcomes of weight loss following participation in a behavioural and/or dietary weight loss intervention in overweight/obese populations. 36 Studies were selected for inclusion and were reviewed. Changes in self-esteem, depressive symptoms, body image and health related quality of life (HRQoL) were evaluated and discussed. Where possible, effect sizes to indicate the magnitude of change pre- to post- intervention were calculated using Hedges’ g standardised mean difference. The results demonstrated consistent improvements in psychological outcomes concurrent with and sometimes without weight loss. Improvements in body image and HRQoL (especially vitality) were closely related to changes in weight. Calculated effect sizes varied considerably and reflected the heterogeneous nature of the studies included in the review. Although the quality of the studies reviewed was generally acceptable, only 9 out of 36 studies included a suitable control/comparison group and the content, duration of intervention and measures used to assess psychological outcomes varied considerably. Further research is required to improve the quality of studies assessing the benefits of weight loss to fully elucidate the relationship between weight loss and psychological outcomes.
    • Smartphone use and work related wellbeing

      See, Angela; Lasikiewicz, Nicola (Springer, 2015-06-22)
      While the smartphone allows employees to connect with work “anytime and anywhere”, the demands to carry out work related tasks outside work hours may translate into extra demands on employees and incur negative outcomes such as work related fatigue. Alternatively, smartphone use may help to distract the employee from work issues or recover from the demands of work, though activities such as music and games. With Singapore having the highest smartphone penetration rate per capita (90% of the population) in the world, this study aimed to explore associations between both work related and personal smartphone use in non-work time and work related rumination, fatigue, and job stress in full-time employed Singaporean adults. Sixty-seven male and female working adults (mean age 36.5years, SD=9.35) from a diverse range of occupations completed online measures of work related and personal smartphone use during non-work hours and work related rumination, detachment, fatigue and recovery. The results indicated that smartphone use significantly decreased with increasing age. Further, work related smartphone use was significantly, positively correlated with personal use, problem-solving pondering but also work demand. Personal smartphone use also significantly, positively correlated with problem-solving pondering. Psychological detachment was the best predictor of personal smartphone use. The findings suggest that work related smartphone use in non-work time may facilitate work performance through problem solving, whilst personal use may promote psychological detachment from work. However, the link between work related smartphone use and job demand may signal risk. More research is required in a smartphone dense population such as Singapore to clarify these relationships.
    • Stress, cortisol and central obesity in middle aged adults

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Hendrickx, Hilde; Talbot, Duncan; Dye, Louise; University of Chester (Karger, 2013-05-24)
      Introduction: Obesity is associated with various psychological and physiological disturbances. Of interest is the relationship between central obesity and psychological stress. Central obesity is characterised by increased adipose tissue, often associated with glucocorticoid excess, specifically, the stress hormone cortisol. Consequently, a disturbed cortisol basal diurnal rhythm and impaired responses to psychological stress in middle aged adults with central obesity may be observed. Method: In study one, basal diurnal cortisol profiles were examined (n=147; mean = 46.21 ± 7.18 years) in a sample of high and low waist-hip ratio (WHR) males and females. Profiles were explored in terms of the area under the curve (AUC) of the cortisol-awakening response and diurnal decline. In study two, cortisol responses to a psychological stressor versus no-stress control (n=66; mean = 46 ± 7.17 years) in a sample of high and low WHR individuals were explored. Results: Blunted cortisol profiles, characterised by a reduced AUC, were observed in the majority (78%) of a middle-aged sample and were associated with significantly greater WHR. Further, blunted cortisol profiles were associated with a less favourable metabolic profile. When exposed to a psychological stressor, high WHR individuals, specifically males, tended to secrete greater cortisol. Conclusion: The findings suggest that central obesity is associated with altered cortisol responsivity. This highlights the vulnerability of high WHR individuals to stress related illness and disease. Further research, however, is required to elucidate whether stress exposure increases the propensity for central obesity or whether central obesity elevates stress responsivity.
    • Weight management in the digital age

      Ashwell, Margaret; Hulshof, Toine; Johns, Daniel; Bornet, Francis; Lasikiewicz, Nicola (Wiley, 2014-11-19)
      Paper presented at the European Congress on Obesity, 29 May 2014, Sofia, Bulgaria