Monday, 11 January 2016

Research Roundup 2015!

It’s been a long time since the Addiction Research Group have thrilled you with our research roundup but that doesn't mean we haven’t been hard at work. Here is a summary of our last year’s work! We’ll start with an overview of just some of the papers that have been published in the last 12 months (there was not space to cover them all so the remaining can be found at the end of this post).

A paper by Abi Rose, Charlotte Hardman and Paul Christiansen published in Appetite investigated the effects of alcohol consumption and the environment on snacking behaviour. In either a bar lab or sterile lab, social drinkers received a priming dose of alcohol or soft drink and completed a taste test, as well as ratings of alcohol, snack and appetite urge. Participants in the alcohol group consumed more calories (including drink calories) compared to the soft drink group; therefore, alcohol calories were not compensated for by a reduction in food intake, suggesting alcohol may disrupt appetite signals or make food more appealing. Additionally, the results demonstrated that a larger proportion of unhealthy snacks were consumed in the bar lab, particularly in people who were disinhibited. This suggests particular personality characteristics increase susceptibility to alcohol’s effects on eating.

Another study by Paul Christiansen, Rosie Mansfield, Jay Duckworth, Matt Field and Andy Jones published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence involved a group of social drinkers completing variations of the alcohol-related visual probe task. This was to investigate whether incorporating eye-tracking and personalised stimuli to the task would improve its internal reliability. The results demonstrated that internal reliability was highest for personalised (versus general) alcohol stimuli and for eye-tracking (versus manual reaction time) measures of attentional bias. Therefore, the study suggests that incorporating these methods can improve the internal reliability of the alcohol-related visual probe task.

A paper by Lisa Di Lemma, Joanne Dickson, Pawel Jedras and Matt Field was published in Frontiers in Psychology. This reported results from three studies which investigated the independence of the approach (indulge) and avoidance (abstain) motivational orientations for alcohol. Participants watched brief videos and completed self-report and implicit measures of alcohol-related approach and avoidance. In all three studies, it was found that self-report increases in approach inclinations were accompanied by parallel decreases in avoidance inclinations and vice versa. This suggests that subjective approach and avoidance inclinations for alcohol tend to fluctuate in parallel, which questions their degree of independence.  However, the study also involved a combined analysis of data from all three studies. This in fact demonstrated that changes in inclinations to drink were partially independent of changes in inclinations to avoid alcohol.

Andy Jones, Lisa Di Lemma, Eric Robinson, Paul Christiansen and Matt Field published a meta-analysis in Appetite investigating lab studies of inhibitory control training (where participants learn to associate appetitive cues with inhibition of behaviour) for appetitive behaviour change. They found that the effects of inhibitory control training on behaviour were comparable to those produced by other psychological interventions, suggesting that it is efficient for short-term behaviour change in the laboratory.

Natasha Clarke, Matt Field and Abi Rose published a paper in PLoS One on the effect of a brief personalised intervention for students. The study found that an active control (engaging with alcohol-related information) was just as effective at reducing alcohol consumption and binges as the personalised feedback intervention at a two-week follow-up. This suggests providing information can be just as efficient as more time consuming methods, if the information is engaged with.

And finally, last but by no means least, Helen Ruddock, Joanne Dickson, Matt Field and Charlotte Hardman published a study in Appetite on the concept of food addiction. Participants completed a questionnaire online which asked whether they perceived themselves to be a food addict. The answers were analysed and gave an interesting insight into self-perceived food addiction. Characteristics of people who defined themselves as food addicts included eating for reward, being preoccupied with food, low self-control, frequent food cravings, increased weight and a problem with certain foods. This qualitative study is the first to provide insight into beliefs about food addition in both self-perceived food addicts and non-addicts.

We’ve been travelling around as usual. Matt, Andy, Paul, Eric and Charlotte didn’t have to go far to attend the British Psychological Society (BPS) symposium in Liverpool in May. Matt gave a symposium at the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) in Warwick and attended the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) in Bristol, both in July. Matt and Andy also travelled to York and presented at the Society for the Study of Addiction conference.

PhD students have been busy too. A big group of us travelled to Bristol in September and presented research posters at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) early career meeting. Andy, Inge, Jay and Natasha ran their first ever workshop on novel methods in public health research at the UK Centres for Public Health Excellence (UKCRC) conference in Edinburgh in November. A bunch of us also went to Newcastle in December for the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKSBM) conference, where Eric, Lisa, Graeme gave talks and Andy, Mrunal, Lisa and Natasha presented their posters. And finally back round to Liverpool for the North West Alcohol Conference (NWAC) in November, of which a brilliant summary by Laura, Graeme and Panos can be found here.

Finally we welcome our new PhD student Laura Baines, who has done a brilliant job covering some of our new published research in this roundup.

Thanks for reading. We promise we won’t leave it as long till the next time! If you have any questions contact Prof Matt field, and if you are interested in taking part in research you can find our current studies here

Other (equally as important!) papers published by the Addiction Research Group in 2015:

Eric Robinson and Matt Field - Awareness of social influence on food intake

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