A special bond: How equine-assisted services help families impacted by domestic abuse

For millennia, humans and horses have enjoyed a special relationship. Recent research shows that working with horses can improve human mental health and well-being. Professor Ann Hemingway is part of a multidisciplinary team that has demonstrated that equine-assisted services can improve outcomes for families impacted by domestic abuse and mitigate the conditions that fuel it, and believes that the benefits of such an intervention could be delivered through virtual reality technology.

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Leaving a legacy of ill health: The trans-generational effects of smoking

The dangers of smoking to those who light up are incontrovertible. We also know, through research, that second-hand smoke poses threats to the health of others near smokers and has encouraged restrictions on public smoking. Policing private spaces, such as homes and cars, is nigh impossible, meaning children of smokers can still be directly exposed to the same dangerous chemicals and toxins that smokers inhale. However, there is emerging evidence that children and even grandchildren may be affected by cigarette smoke they never inhaled but was instead inhaled by their parents or grandparents, decades before their birth.

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University workplace health promotion programmes: Getting the balance right

Gone are the days when employers would simply pay employees to get on with their work. Nowadays, there is a growing expectation that employers consider the overall wellbeing of their employees. Indeed, when advertising job vacancies, organisations promote their workplace health promotion programmes, touted as caring for their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. But are there designs behind such programmes that adequately align them with the expectations and preferred outcomes of organisations and employees? How can highly diverse organisations get the balance right and allocate resources for such programmes effectively? And what if budget restrictions threaten to throw a spanner in the works? These are some of the questions behind research from Australia that examined health promotion programmes. What the research discovered has highlighted the challenges organisations face in addressing multiple expectations around employee health. The outcomes also raised some eyebrows.

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Green baize gladiators: Bridge as a mindsport for all

Electronic sports, or esports, have evolved the concept of ‘sport’, especially around the mental acuity needed to play. Professor Samantha Punch at the University of Stirling, together with Dr David Scott at Abertay University, Scotland, see similarities in the card game bridge. They are helping establish a new academic subdiscipline – the sociology of mindsport. In the process, Punch and Scott have uncovered characteristics of the game bridge, including its intense physicality and team play, that have remained largely unnoticed. Their research also draws attention to bridge’s status as a mindsport that anyone can play.

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The paradox of Western hegemony of human nature

The world faces unprecedented social and environmental challenges that demand a coordinated, global response. However, such a response is hampered by a conundrum. The challenges are partly the outcome of Western notions of what it is to be human, yet those very notions will probably dictate the spirit and strength of how the challenges are addressed. Dr Michael Zichy, a specialist in ethics at the University of Bonn in Germany, refers to this ‘Western hegemony’ around human values and suggests that they are in a paradoxical state of tension.

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The success of simple metaphors in communicating brain science

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, supported by the Calgary-based Palix Foundation, has succeeded in achieving individual, organisational, and systems level change regarding brain development, epigenetics, mental health, and addiction. The Brain Story, which uses simple metaphors to communicate complex brain science, has proven an effective tool to achieve this change and move towards building more resilient individuals and communities.

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Valuable insights into caring for women with heavy menstrual bleeding

It’s estimated that as many as one in four premenopausal women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB). Also known as menorrhagia, it is a chronic condition characterised by abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. While some cases have a physical cause, such as fibroids (benign uterine tumours) most do not. Common though the condition may be, that doesn’t make it necessarily bearable. HMB not only poses a significant health risk but also interferes with a woman’s physical, emotional, social, and material quality of life. Unfortunately, given cultural sensitivities around menstruation in general, little is done to make women aware of the condition and that treatments are available. A significant long-term study by the University of Nottingham in the UK is helping to change that.

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Multiple benefits of molasses nutrient blocks for cattle

In Southeast Asia, with its burgeoning economies, smallholder livestock production is in a promising transition stage, yet overall remains inefficient. Dr Peter Windsor, Professor Emeritus at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, Australia, and a team of researchers in Laos, have adapted the humble feed block into an effective multi-intervention livestock development strategy that could also play a crucial role in climate change management.

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The critical role of local food systems and democratized science

Feeding a rapidly growing global population is nearly impossible. Food production is increasingly controlled by powerful organizations, climate change is negatively impacting food production, inequality is growing globally, and menacing geopolitical shifts are likely to make matters worse. Dr William Lacy, a leading sociologist and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California Davis, USA, has looked back on 40 years of research in the journal Agriculture and Human Values. He uncovered clear guidelines as to how local food systems and democratized science can encourage the necessary changes.

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Steering STEM education development through play

The growing importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for learning at school and beyond is placing increased emphasis on building the framework for their experiences in early childhood. However, designing the learning progressions children experience during this time undervalues a remarkable fact: children’s connection with STEM is intuitive. Chelsea Cutting of the University of South Australia’s Mount Gambier-based campus, and Professor Tom Lowrie of the University of Canberra’s STEM Education Research Centre, have shown how early childhood education can capitalise on this.

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