• Event-related and readiness potentials when preparing to approach and avoid alcohol cues following cue avoidance training in heavy drinkers.

      Stancak, Andrej; Soto, Vicente; Fallon, Nick; Di Lemma, Lisa; University of Chester; University of Liverpool; Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez; University of Sheffield.
      Rationale Cue avoidance training (CAT) reduces alcohol consumption in the laboratory. However, the neural mechanisms that underlie the effects of this intervention are poorly understood. Objectives The present study investigated the effects of a single session of CAT on event-related and readiness potentials during preparation of approach and avoidance movements to alcohol cues. Methods Heavy drinking young adults (N = 60) were randomly assigned to complete either CAT or control training. After training, we recorded participants’ event-related and motor readiness potentials as they were preparing to respond. Results In the CAT group, N200 amplitude was higher when preparing to approach rather than avoid alcohol pictures. In the control group, N200 amplitudes did not differ for approach and avoidance to alcohol pictures. Regarding the late positive potential (LPP), in the CAT group, the negativity of this was blunted when preparing to avoid alcohol pictures relative to when preparing to avoid control pictures. In the control group, the negativity of the LPP was blunted when preparing to approach alcohol pictures relative to when preparing to approach control pictures. There were no effects on motor readiness potentials. Behavioural effects indicated short-lived effects of training on reaction times during the training block that did not persist when participants were given time to prepare their motor response before executing it during the EEG testing block. Conclusions After a single session of CAT, the enhanced N200 when approaching alcohol cues may indicate the engagement of executive control to overcome the associations learned during training. These findings clarify the neural mechanisms that may underlie the effects of CAT on drinking behaviour.
    • New psychoactive substances: the use and the associated health and social harm in Telford and Wrekin

      Mabhala, Mzwandile A.; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2017-10-20)
      Background: Although NPS use is increasing, the scale of their use and harms remains unclear. Reports from the United Kingdom show downward trends in drug use in England and Wales among 11 to 15-year-olds, but also a steady increase in NPS use. However, NPS use remains lower than that of many traditional illicit drugs. This paper presents the correlations between age and the awareness, use and accessibility of NPS in Telford and Wrekin local authority, England. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire completed by 204 participants assessed socio-demographic information and awareness, accessibility, effects, uses, and health and social harms of NPS. Their mean age was 25.7 years (SD = 10.9). Data analysis used the IBM SPSS statistical package version 21, with significance level set at p < 0.05 and confidence interval at 95%. Spearman’s correlation coefficiencies (rho) determined associations between variables. Results: Descriptive statistics showed that 85.8% of respondents were aware of NPS, 33% knew other users, and 9.8% had ever used it. 40.2% said that access to NPS was easy, 35.8% very easy. The study showed a rho of 0.3 between age and knowing of NPS (P ≤ 0.000); rho of 0.5 between age and knowing NPS users (P ≤ 0.000); rho of 0.28 between age and number of NPS users they knew (P ≤ 0.000); rho of 0.14 between age and the number of times they accept and consume NPS (P ≤ 0.040); rho of 0.042 between age and being offered NPS by someone you know (P = 0.548); rho of 0.11 between age and being offered NPS by strangers (P = 0.097); and rho of 0.08 between age and perceived ease of access to NPS (P = 0.253). Conclusion: While young people’s NPS use remains low, they are more likely to use them than the general population. Despite young people’s high levels of NPS awareness, their knowledge of higher numbers of NPS users raises concerns about their exposure. We recommend making more effort to prevent uptake of NPS amongst this group.
    • Public acceptability of public health policy to improve population health: A population‐based survey

      Bellis, Mark A.; Hughes, Karen; Di Lemma, Lisa; Public Health Collaborating Unit, School of Health Sciences, Bangor University, Wrexham; Public Health Wales; University of Chester
      Background: For public health policies to be effective, it is critical that they are acceptable to the public as acceptance levels impact success rate. Objective: To explore public acceptance of public health statements and examine differences in acceptability across socio-demographics, health behaviours (physical activity, diet, binge drinking and smoking), health status and well-being. Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample (N = 1001) using a random stratified sampling method. Face-to-face interviews were conducted at homes of residents in Wales aged 16+ years. Individuals reported whether they agreed, had no opinion, or disagreed with 12 public health statements. Results: More than half of the sample were supportive of 10 out of 12 statements. The three statements with the greatest support (>80% agreement) reflected the importance of: a safe and loving childhood to becoming a healthy adult, schools teaching about health, and healthier foods costing less. Individuals who engaged in unhealthy behaviours were less likely to agree with some of the statements (eg 39.8% of binge drinkers agreed alcohol adverts should be banned compared to 57.6% of those who never binge drink; P < .001). Conclusions: Findings show an appetite for public health policies among the majority of the public. The relationship between supporting policies and engaging in healthy behaviours suggests a feedback loop that is potentially capable of shifting both public opinion and the opportunities for policy intervention. If a nation becomes healthier, this could illicit greater support for stronger policies which could encourage more people to move in a healthier direction.