Occupational Health Psychology Summer Institute and Corrections Meeting Held at Portland State

The Oregon Health Workforce Center (OHWC) presented the first ever National Symposium on Corrections Worker Health last Tuesday (July 15) followed by the Third Annual Occupational Health Psychology Summer Institute (July 16-18) at Portland State University with added support from the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences (at Oregon Health & Science University). These major national meetings drew in 75-80 people.

The Corrections meeting was designed to identify major health problems in Corrections and to develop a research agenda to address those problems. The meeting was keynoted by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Deputy Director Margaret Kitt and National Institute of Justice Social Science Analyst Marie Garcia.  Pictured at the podium is the Symposium co-Director Dr. Kerry Kuehl of the OHWC and OHSU.  Dr. Martin Cherniack of the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (at the University of Connecticut) was the other co-Director; he gave the lead presentation of the symposium.

The Summer Institute led by Director Leslie Hammer, PhD, of Portland State University was divided into Theory and Research, the intersection of  research and practice: Total Worker Health (led by Dr. Kent Anger, OHWC Director) and keynoted by Dr. Laura Punnett of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, while the final day was devoted to practical interventions in the workplace.  Most of the speakers at the Summer Institute are pictured below.

Below are pictures of speakers not in the group picture above.

Below is a picture of Steve Hecker who was honored for his 3 years in the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center as one of Oregon’s finest; Steve is retiring from the Center in 2014.

Lastly is a picture of the Directors and Associate Directors of the four NIOSH-sponsored Total Worker Health Centers who attended the Total Worker Health day at the Summer Institute answering questions from the audience.

A web cast of the Corrections Symposium and the Practice day of the Summer Institute will be available on the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center web site in late July.


Congratulations ASSE Columbia-Willamette

Safety and health professionals in Oregon are lucky to have the opportunity to join one of several chapters of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). If you aren’t already a member, you might consider how this association can help you network with others, keep abreast of what’s new in our field, and help strengthen your organization’s health and safety efforts. Oregon ASSE chapters include Columbia-Willamette, including Santiam and St. Helens sections, Cascade (Eugene), and Southern Oregon.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Columbia-Willamette Chapter was recognized last month as the 2012-2013 recipient of the Large Chapter of the Year Award. By receiving this award, the chapter was identified as a leader amongst the 151 ASSE chapters throughout the world, with regard to professional development, chapter communication and service to members. I am pleased to be a member of this organization, and I sincerely thank those dedicated members holding officer and leadership appointments. Charging ahead, we look forward to the 2015 Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety & Health Conference (GOSH), a joint effort between ASSE Columbia-Willamette, Oregon OSHA, and Oregon and SW Washington industries and labor.

Deb Fell-Carlson receives the 2013-14 SPY Award.

We also offer our congratulations to Deb Fell-Carlson who was recognized by the Columbia-Willamette Chapter as the 2013-14 Safety and Health Professional of the Year (SPY). Deb is the Policyholder Safety and Wellness Adviser at SAIF Corporation. Most safety and health professionals in Oregon have likely heard Deb present on topics related to safety, health and wellness as she makes her rounds as a dynamic and knowledgeable speaker. Here at Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center we appreciate Deb as an active collaborator and partner in our initiatives.

If you haven’t already attended a local ASSE meeting or joined ASSE, now is a great time to do it! And if you are an ASSE member and are interested in health and wellness, join our open call meeting to learn more about the ASSE Health and Wellness Branch this Friday, July 11 at 9 AM Pacific Time.


Why Use Sunscreen When it is Cloudy?

Melanoma of the Skin: Incident Rates by State, 2010 -Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention

Most of us are pretty sure we know how to protect ourselves in the sun. Use sunscreen when it’s hot and sunny, try not to get a sunburn, wear a hat, and so on. But we live in Oregon, home of the cloudy day and liquid sunshine. And if it’s cloudy, there’s no reason to bother with all that sun protection business, right? The clouds will protect us?

While I’ve heard this from so many Oregonians, it’s actually a big misconception. Ultraviolet radiation, the invisible rays that come from the sun and can do nasty thing like prematurely age your skin and cause skin cancer, can go right through clouds.  It’s actually the UV rays, not the warmth or brightness of the sun, that can cause your skin to burn, and wearing sunscreen would prevent that from happening.

But when the clouds roll in, most of us would never think to put on sunscreen to protect our skin. Because why would you wear sunscreen on a cloudy day? Believe me, as an Oregonian, I understand the dissonance.

That’s why when I came across a product that had rebranded their sunscreen to incorporate clouds into the name, I was impressed that it would  remind us that we need protection from UV rays even on cloudy days. And seeing that Oregon is consistently in the TOP 5 for highest rates of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in the U.S., it might actually save lives.

Submitted by: Hilary Nichols, Western Washington University Student, Summer Intern in the McCullough and Rohlman Labs

CROETweb Sun Exposure topic

“Nurture Your Nature” Wins Serious Play Award

Let’s Get Healthy!’s new game about epigenetics has won a 2014 International Serious Play Award silver medal!  The Serious Play Awards honor exceptional examples of corporate, military and education games, as well as games for good.  The “Nurture Your Nature” game has been used to teach epigenetics to middle school students and will be demonstrated at the 2014 Serious Play Conference at the University of Southern California in July.  Play the game!

For a full list of winners and more information about the 2014 Serious Play Conference visit http://www.seriousplayconference.com. Visit the Let’s Get Healthy! website.

Submitted by Lisa Marriott.

Welcome Summer Interns!

Colleen Hunter (left) and Jeana Yee, two of our 2014 Summer Interns.

June brings us many new faces in the form of sharp and energetic college students. This summer is no exception, and we are pleased to greet our 14 summer interns who will be supporting Occupational Health Sciences and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center research.

All of the students selected for these paid internships are either Oregon residents or attend Oregon schools. Students will spend three months working alongside researchers and faculty on basic and applied research projects, sharing their own research findings in poster presentations later in August.

Congratulations to the following students who have been selected as our 2014 Summer Interns:

  • Aviva Browning – Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR – Anger Lab
  • Jami Cheng – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD  – Rohlman Lab
  • Devin Christiansen – Portland State University, Portland, OR – Anger Lab
  • Leanne Hicks – Portland State University, Portland, OR – Hammer Lab
  • Colleen Hunter – Pacific Univ. Oregon, Forest Grove, OR – Olson Lab
  • Michael Jacobson – Reed College, Portland, OR – Butler Lab
  • Krista Leonard – Willamette University, Salem, OR – Rohlman Lab
  • Hilary Nichols – Western Washington Univ., Bellingham, WA  – McCullough Lab
  • Tiffany Nguyen – Yale University, New Haven, CT – Rohlman Lab
  • Silvia Plascencia – Univ. of Portland, Portland, OR – Kretzschmar Lab
  • Grace Recht –­ Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH  ­ Kuehl Lab
  • Ryan Stadnik – Univ. of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO – Spencer Lab
  • Madison Trowbridge – Linfield College, McMinnville, OR – Shea Lab
  • Jeana Yee  – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD – Olson Lab

Thank you to all of the students who submitted applications this year.  Learn more about our Summer Intern Program.


Director Steven Shea Receives Distinguished Service Award

AASM president Safwan Badr, MD (L), presents award to Steve Shea.

Congratulations to Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Director, Steven Shea, who received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) during the 28th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held May 31 – June 4 in Minneapolis, MN. The award was presented in recognition of his 5 years service on the AASM Board of Directors.

The AASM is the only professional society dedicated exclusively to the medical subspecialty of sleep medicine. With the vision of achieving optimal health through better sleep, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in health care, education and research. The AASM was established in 1975 as the Association of Sleep Disorders Centers, and has a combined membership of nearly 12,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals. From insomnia to sleep apnea, the AASM considers sleep disorders an illness that has reached epidemic proportions.

The AASM mission is to improve sleep health and promote high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards.

Health Consequences of Sedentary Work

Sit less, move often, move more was the message from Dr. Nico Pronk (HealthPartners) at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Symposium Thursday (June 5).  He showed research evidence that providing sit-stand desks in his company was followed by reduced sitting time and reduced low back pain in employees. More than one speaker recommended standing and walking for a few minutes following sitting for an hour (or even after you sit for less time).  ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ was mentioned by more than one speaker, suggesting that prolonged sitting had serious negative health consequences.

Dr. Saurabh Thosar (Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences) followed with evidence that people who report prolonged sitting time die earlier … this is even true of individuals who are highly physically active. Consequences of sitting for as short a time as an hour are reduced blood flow in the thighs and increased blood pressure.  Dr. Jennifer Hess warned that stretching and fitness was not a substitute for ergonomics.  She focused on balance and muscle symmetry. For example, a worker returning too soon from an injury can lead to avoiding use of a muscle that was not fully recovered and this can then lead to asymmetric postures that produce to further injuries.  Shown below are Dr. Hess, Dr. Pronk and Dr. Thosar responding to a question from the audience. Occupational Health Sciences Director Dr. Steve Shea is on the right, coordinating the Q&A period.

Speakers provided examples of healthy exercise programs and addressed the need to provide exercise options appropriate for different cultural groups to have effective programs.  Below, Occupational Health Sciences Senior Research Associate Dede Montgomery introduces Kadalyst Wellness Director/Partner Kerwynn Prinzing (standing at lectern) who described an activity program that had changed her life.  A webcast of all the presentations with much more detail including data supporting the results described above will be available at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Health & Safety Training web page under Outreach and Education, by mid-June.


Get Moving!

We look forward to next week’s symposium on Sedentary, Stationary and Physically Demanding Work. If the number of registrations is any indication of interest – wow, many of you are eager to learn more about health consequences and solutions as well. And while we look for ways to get ourselves moving during the day – whether that be sit-stand stations, walking meetings or stairwell challenges – we know that it really is a “lifestyle thing” and that our families, co-workers and organizations can be terrific motivators as we achieve better health.

For encouragement, keep in mind that my 84 year-old father is successfully demonstrating that you can make a positive change and potentially improve your health outcomes at any point. In his case, his 50 minute date with a stationary bike five or six days a week has significantly improved his health. If you are not yet convinced on the importance of moving, watch this: YouTube Preview Image And some inspiration from those of us at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.




Kent Anger wins Faculty Senate Award

Dr. Kent Anger poses with his spouse, Billie.

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Kent Anger, Associate Director of Applied Research at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center. Annually, faculty members at OHSU are recognized through the Faculty Senate Awards for their exceptional efforts in support of OHSU’s mission. At today’s ceremony, Dr. Anger received the 2014 Faculty Senate Award for Collaboration. This year the nominees for the Collaboration Award were from OHSU’s Affiliated Units and Institutes.

In endorsement letters provided by colleagues, Kent is described as productive, diligent, and energetic, and a genius at bringing together interdisciplinary experts to collaborate.  He is a team player who has made extensive contributions to the development of workplace interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of workers and their family members.

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to Kent.

What’s up with Epigenetics?

Did you know that your choices can alter the way your DNA works – all without changing the “letters” that make up your genetic code? You may have heard of genetics, but what about epigenetics? It is a brand new field of science and was even recently featured on NPR!

In collaboration with epigenetic researcher, Dr. Mitchell Turker, at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Let’s Get Healthy! developed a set of classroom lessons on the topic and an interactive video game that teaches about why our choices matter.

The epigenetics station debuted last month at St Helens Middle School, where

Students engage in Let’s Get Healthy! activities.

450 students attended the Let’s Get Healthy! fair that day.  Students could explore the interactive video game or DNA manipulatives to learn how epigenetic marks on our DNA can influence our health, our risk of disease, and can be passed to future generations.  Student understanding of epigenetics was measured using pre/post-surveys given in the classroom and through questions integrated into the game. In pre-surveys, only 8% of students had ever heard of the term “epigenetics” before.  After fair, students showed significant increases in their understanding of epigenetics and talked about it more frequently to their friends, teachers and family.

Learn more about epigenetics. Even better, play the game yourself!

This project was funded by a pilot project grant from the OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness and by the National Institutes of Health through a grant to the Interdisciplinary Center for Epigenetics, Science and Society (5P20HG00551).

Let’s Get Healthy! is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health.  For more information, visit Let’s Get Healthy!

Submitted by Lisa Marriott, Associate Director, Let’s Get Healthy!

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