York St John University
The Bridge
November 2009
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This e-bulletin is our main method for communicating with people interested in the work of the Centre so we hope you find it interesting and informative, please feel free to send any feedback or comments about the work of the Centre to

E: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk 

hinking of doing a PhD?

If you are thinking about doing a PhD related to occupation and mental health please email RCOMH and we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.

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er information about the Centre please visit

www.yorksj.ac.uk/rcomh or E: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk

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Bridging the gap between research and practice
Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge. We hope that you will take time to read about the initiative to develop potential mental health research questions for Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme. This is a real opportunity for raising the profile of research into occupation and mental health in the UK so we hope you will contribute to RCOMH’s work to support this initiative…
Potential mental health research questions for HTA
Dr Elizabeth White, Chair of Research Forum for the Allied Health Professions and Head of Research at the College of Occupational Therapists, has set up an initiative with the NIHR HTA Programme because they are keen to receive a higher number of good quality research proposals that can potentially be taken forwards and end up forming commissioned topics.

She is looking at developing research questions about occupation in the context of mental health. She has contacted RCOMH because she is aware that we are researching within the area of occupation and mental health, and so might be able to assist with this opportunity. The official call will come out from the HTA in early January, with a turnaround time of about 3 weeks, so this is advance notice in order to give us a longer timescale for thinking about potentially suitable research questions.

In order to help shape thinking here, the questions will need to be of importance to the NHS with a focus on patients. They will need to be supported by some evidence, and propose the potential for outcomes that will improve clinical decision-making. Anything that can relate to clinical and/or cost-effectiveness is particularly attractive. HTA will provide a template for questions to be submitted on.

How is RCOMH preparing for this?

We are generating questions related to RCOMH’s six research programmes, i.e. boredom, creativity, forensic mental health, older people, psychosis, and work using a variety of information sources. When we have got questions we will be focusing on (a) identifying which are the priority questions and (b) collecting any evidence to support the question. If you have a question, related to RCOMH’s work, but do not have the time to do this you can send us your question with a clear rationale of why it is important and we can search for the evidence to support it.

What do you need to do now?

You can send your questions with your rationale to RCOMH for us to collect the evidence needed to support it. It would also be helpful to if you could indicate how high a priority you believe the question is with your reasons why. Send your question and rationale to RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk please put HTA in the subject line.

Or you can develop your own research questions with supporting evidence and then complete the template provided by the HTA when the official call comes out.

Dr Elizabeth White (Elizabeth.White@cot.co.uk) is also happy to answer any other questions you have about this initiative.

Dr Elizabeth White
Chair of Research Forum for the Allied Health Professions and Head of Research at the College of Occupational Therapists

Mental health research initiative
The Research Mental Health Initiative is trying to put mental health research on the same footing as physical health research. Can you lend them your support? You can support their declaration online by visiting www.researchmentalhealth.org.uk, you can also encourage others to do the same and you can speak to your local MP to lobby them to support an early day motion about this.
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The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent advisory body, hosted by Universities UK, which supports research organisations and individual researchers in order to further integrity in research and promote good practice in addressing misconduct in research. They have recently published ‘The Code of Practice for Research’ to promote good practice and preventing misconduct. It is available at:


Spotlight on research
This edition’s article has been reviewed by Alison Laver-Fawcett, Deputy Director of RCOMH and Senior Lecturer at York St. John University…

Simon Forstmeir and Andreas Maercker from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich have investigated the effects of lifetime motivational abilities on cognitive and emotional health in old age. The authors developed a Motivational Reserve model, incorporating motivational and cognitive abilities, which they have studied as a predictor of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Their model hypothesises the relationships between motivational reserve, cognitive reserve, stress levels, age and cognitive status. In the paper they provide an interesting review of the research literature related to both motivational abilities and cognitive abilities as predictors of later cognitive functioning and explore the evidence related to the exercising of cognitive abilities as a buffer against cognitive decline in old age. They also review evidence related to how motivational abilities reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, which are in turn reported as being associated with an increased risk of subsequent dementia.

Two key Motivational Reserve variables are identified as ‘goal orientation’ and ‘action planning’ and the four sub-processes of MR are described as: decision regulation; activation regulation, motivation regulation; and self-efficacy. Forstmeir and Maercker explored MR in an occupational context. They used the term ‘occupational’ in a narrow sense related to people’s work occupations and asserted that an occupational context is the area of a person’s life where motivational abilities ‘play a crucial role in reaching one’s goals, to a greater extent than in other areas’ (p888).

Their study involved a sample of 147 community-dwelling people (without dementia) recruited from the greater Zurich area. Subjects were aged between 60 – 94 years and the sample was stratified for age group, sex and education. Subjects were given a range of standardised measures to examine motivation (volition, self-efficacy, activation regulation), well-being (satisfaction with life), mental health (positive and negative affect, self-esteem and depression) and cognition. The researchers also cross- referenced subjects’ main occupation to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net) to estimate each person’s midlife motivational and cognitive abilities. [N.B., O*Net is the official occupational classification system used by the United States Department of Labor].

In this study, Forstmeir and Maercker report that O*Net-estimated motivational abilities predicted cognitive status, psychological well-being and odds of mild-cognitive impairment when age, sex, education and cognitive ability were controlled. However, O*Net cognitive abilities were not found to be significant predictors.  A major limitation of this study is the cross-sectional design and the authors identify the need for longitudinal studies to fully test their model and examine the hypotheses that motivational and cognitive abilities can be identified through a person’s main occupation, are associated with motivational reserve and cognitive reserve, and may predict cognitive and emotional health in later life.

If you would like to read this article the full reference is:

Forstmeier S, Maercker (2008) Motivational reserve: Lifetime motivational abilities contribute to cognitive and emotional health in old age. Psychology and Aging, 23, 4, 886-899

Dr Alison Laver-Fawcett
Senior Lecturer/ Deputy Director of RCOMH
York St. John University

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Refocus on Recovery - 20-22 September 2010
This conference will present the best international recovery research.

See www.researchintorecovery.com for more information.

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