Researcher Receives Additional Funding for Mental Health Study in Older Ages
The National Institute of Health (NIH) granted additional funding to Kent State University researcher Karin Coifman, Ph.D., bringing her total award amount to more than $3 million to support her research on mental well-being and coping after traumatic injuries.
Coifman is an associate professor in the university’s Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and additionally conducts research focusing on emotions in relation to stress and mental illness. This additional funding is being used to study individuals aged 65 and older. Coifman hopes to create a better understanding of generational differences in coping.
Coifman is observing different age groups to compare mental health and coping after injuries in order to better understand behavioral reactions to emotional events. By conducting this study, Coifman hopes to identify indicators of mental disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
“It would be very helpful if we had a tool that we could administer to patients right then and there soon after an injury so that they can get the appropriate behavioral health follow-ups as part of normal recovery,” Coifman said. “We would have a sense that they would need it based on results from the tool.”
Coifman anticipates that age will play an important role in recovery due to outside factors, including socialization, obligations and predictable schedules. Things like school, jobs and socialization will influence a person’s schedule regularity.
This new funding extends Coifman’s work to older age groups. Coifman will recruit traumatic injury patients aged 65 and older from Cleveland Clinic Akron General and Summa Health System. This research will be strictly observational and take place over 18 months. Coifman intends to study how each patient responds to emotional material, investigate daily stressors from everyday life and observe physical activity and sleep patterns.
“We do find that patients generally want to participate in the study,” Coifman said. “It is generally viewed as a way to give back. Patients tend to enjoy the idea of supporting a study that could help people in the future.”
While most people can recover psychologically after a traumatic injury, it can be hard to detect when someone will need behavioral assistance down the road. Designing a tool to help identify indicators of mental illness early into the recovery process will help diminish the chances of unnecessary mental hardships after a traumatic event.
For more information about Kent State’s Department of Psychological Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/psychology.