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Does Child Maltreatment Mediate Family Environment and Psychological Well-Being?  [PDF]
Michael Galea
Psychology (PSYCH) , 2010, DOI: 10.4236/psych.2010.12019
Abstract: This study tried to establish if childhood maltreatment mediates the established relationship between family environ-ment and psychological well-being, in a sample of Maltese university students (N = 312). However, our analysis sug-gested partial mediation only. Moreover, results indicated that abusive families are less loving, socially integrated, organized, and more conflicted. Family environment contributed positively, albeit limited, to cognitive well-being after controlling for child abuse history. In particular, cohesion, do add unique variance to subjective well-being, after controlling for child abuse. This study replicates classic research on the important role that family environment plays in children’s holistic development.
Lived Experiences of Legal Guardians of Adolescents Who Deliberate Self-Harm  [PDF]
Roberto Galea, Michael Galea
Open Access Library Journal (OALib Journal) , 2018, DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1105098
Abstract:
Objectives: To explore and understand the lived experiences of the legal guardians of adolescents who engaged in Deliberate Self-Harm while inves-tigating the need for further education and support. Method: Four participants and one pilot study were purposively sampled from the Child Guidance Unit in Malta— all recruited participants were the biological mothers of self-harming adolescents. Each participant was interviewed twice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect the participants’ ex-periences and subjective perspectives, and they were all digitally recorded. All necessary ethical authorisations were collected. Sample: Participants were parents of adolescents who deliberately self-harmed and were receiving care at the Child Guidance Unit. None of the mothers were living with the adolescents’ biological father. Results: The super-ordinate themes identified were: Guardian’s depths of despair, Guardians weathering the storm and Hope in the midst of despair. Themes flowed from the discovery of Deliber-ate Self-Harm and initial reactions to the hopes and skills developed to deal with their respective circumstances. Conclusion: The need to develop better understanding of the traumatisation and difficult scenarios experienced by legal guardians was identified while further support, education and man-agement of Deliberate Self-Harm have been identified. Limited qualitative research exists that has investigated the phenomenon of DSH, especially from the legal guardians’ perspective. This research hopefully would assist involved legal guardians how to identify such phenomenon, how to educate themselves about it, and manage it successfully.
The Relationship of Personality, Spirituality and Posttraumatic Growth to Subjective Wellbeing  [PDF]
Michael Galea
Open Access Library Journal (OALib Journal) , 2014, DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1101069
Abstract: A growing number of studies are indicating that a number of people report psychological growth after experiencing trauma. This may be so because suffering stimulates the need and search for meaning [1]. In this cross-sectional and correlational study, we sought the relationship of subjective wellbeing to posttraumatic growth in view of past trauma experiences and perceived stress. In particular, we investigated a sample of tertiary students’ perceived stress, past traumas, subjective well-being, faith maturity, positive and negative affect, and personality, together with demographic correlates. Past traumas included loss of a loved one, chronic or acute illness, injury, divorce, violent crime, and job loss, amongst others. Only a quarter of respondents experienced their trauma/s 5 years or more prior the study, thus indicating relatively recent trauma experiences. Post-traumatic growth correlated with personality, faith maturity, wellbeing and positive affect. In examining the patterns of correlations noted above, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis was employed. Posttraumatic growth was found to have unique variance even after partialling out key variables such as perceived stress, personality and faith maturity. Although situational factors and personality did play important roles, this study clearly points at the relevance of faith maturity and posttraumatic growth for the promotion of holistic wellbeing of those affected by trauma. Religious beliefs may counter hopelessness and form an important buffer in this equation. The psycho-social implications of these results were discussed.
Vicarious PTG after Fireworks Trauma  [PDF]
Michael Galea
Psychology (PSYCH) , 2017, DOI: 10.4236/psych.2017.814158
Abstract: Studies about fireworks-related trauma are scarce. Research on other traumas indicates not only the negative reactions and consequences, but also some important positive experiences. This falls within the remit of post-traumatic growth. More complicated may be the possibility of growth through trauma experienced by another person. Vicarious posttraumatic growth refers to positive changes from vicarious or secondary traumatic exposure. In this study, we looked at the trauma experiences by relatives of victims of fireworks’ explosions in Malta, and the potential growth that may have ensued. Method: By using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, we interviewed 8 individuals who met the inclusion criteria. Analysis of data was guided by the Smith method (1999). Results: Key themes highlighted in this study focused on participants’ appreciation of the present, acceptance of reality (others & events), and spiritual growth (sense of relatedness with a God and with others). These themes conform to Tedeschi and Calhoun theory of post-traumatic growth (2004).
The Two Faces of Spirituality in Time of Traumatic Loss: A Thematic Analysis Study  [PDF]
Michael Galea
Open Journal of Social Sciences (JSS) , 2018, DOI: 10.4236/jss.2018.68004
Abstract: Introduction: Research strongly suggests a steady relationship between important life events and one’s tendency toward spirituality. Studies view this phenomenon as both positive and negative, always depending on many contributing factors. More complex is the situation when individuals are exposed to vicarious posttraumatic exposure. This study analyzed such lived experiences vis-a-vis spirituality, from a purposive sample of relatives of victims from tragic pyrotechnics accidents in Malta. Method: Guided by Braun and Clarke [1] Thematic Analysis guidelines, we interviewed 8 relatives of individuals who tragically died in fireworks accidents, and who met the inclusion criteria. Results & Discussion: This study highlighted two key results that were noted by the thematic analysis employed: conflicting and complicated spirituality, highlighted by strong emotions and difficulty integrating the hard truth that ensues from such trauma, and protective spirituality, resulting from family cohesion, ability to move on with life, and living in the present. The relevance and implications of these results were discussed.
Predicting Post-Traumatic Growth among a Sample of Maltese Tertiary Students  [PDF]
Michael Galea
Psychology (PSYCH) , 2018, DOI: 10.4236/psych.2018.911146
Abstract: Background: Increasingly, research is indicating that individuals do report psychological growth after experiencing trauma, and not only its adverse effects. Method: In this cross-sectional correlational study among university students, we investigated their perceived stress, past traumas, subjective well-being, spirituality, positive and negative affect, and personality, together with demographic correlates. Results: Post-traumatic growth correlated with personality, spirituality, well-being and positive affect. Results from the hierarchical multiple regression analysis suggested a direct link between PTG and subjective well-being, positive affect, spirituality and personality, but no such link with negative affect. Conclusion: Personality featured prominently in predicting almost half of the variance of posttraumatic growth even after controlling for key variables. The psycho-social implications of these results were discussed.
Seismic history of the Maltese islands and considerations on seismic risk
P. Galea
Annals of Geophysics , 2007, DOI: 10.4401/ag-3053
Abstract: A historical catalogue of felt earthquakes in the Maltese islands has been compiled dating back to 1530. Although no fatalities were officially recorded during this time as a direct consequence of earthquake effects, serious damage to buildings occurred several times. In the catalogue time period, the islands experienced EMS-98 intensity VII-VIII once (11 January 1693) and intensity VII, or VI-VII five times. The northern segment of the Hyblean-Malta plateau is the source region which appears to pose the greatest threat, although large Greek events and lower magnitude Sicily Channel events also produced damage. Estimates of return periods for intensity ?V are presented, and it is shown that expected peak ground accelerations justify the implementation of, at least, minimum anti-seismic provisions. The rapid and continual increase in the local building stock on the densely-populated islands warrants the implementation of an appropriate seismic building code to be enforced.
Primary Sensory and Motor Cortex Excitability Are Co-Modulated in Response to Peripheral Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Siobhan M. Schabrun, Michael C. Ridding, Mary P. Galea, Paul W. Hodges, Lucinda S. Chipchase
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051298
Abstract: Peripheral electrical stimulation (PES) is a common clinical technique known to induce changes in corticomotor excitability; PES applied to induce a tetanic motor contraction increases, and PES at sub-motor threshold (sensory) intensities decreases, corticomotor excitability. Understanding of the mechanisms underlying these opposite changes in corticomotor excitability remains elusive. Modulation of primary sensory cortex (S1) excitability could underlie altered corticomotor excitability with PES. Here we examined whether changes in primary sensory (S1) and motor (M1) cortex excitability follow the same time-course when PES is applied using identical stimulus parameters. Corticomotor excitability was measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and sensory cortex excitability using somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) before and after 30 min of PES to right abductor pollicis brevis (APB). Two PES paradigms were tested in separate sessions; PES sufficient to induce a tetanic motor contraction (30–50 Hz; strong motor intensity) and PES at sub motor-threshold intensity (100 Hz). PES applied to induce strong activation of APB increased the size of the N20-P25 component, thought to reflect sensory processing at cortical level, and increased corticomotor excitability. PES at sensory intensity decreased the size of the P25-N33 component and reduced corticomotor excitability. A positive correlation was observed between the changes in amplitude of the cortical SEP components and corticomotor excitability following sensory and motor PES. Sensory PES also increased the sub-cortical P14-N20 SEP component. These findings provide evidence that PES results in co-modulation of S1 and M1 excitability, possibly due to cortico-cortical projections between S1 and M1. This mechanism may underpin changes in corticomotor excitability in response to afferent input generated by PES.
Immunogenic, but Not Steady-State, Antigen Presentation Permits Regulatory T-Cells To Control CD8+ T-Cell Effector Differentiation by IL-2 Modulation
Alice McNally, Michael McNally, Ryan Galea, Ranjeny Thomas, Raymond J. Steptoe
PLOS ONE , 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085455
Abstract: Absorption of IL-2 is one proposed mechanism of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cell (Treg) suppression. Direct in vivo experimental evidence for this has recently been obtained. While modulation of IL-2 bioavailability controls CD8+ T-cell effector differentiation under strongly immunogenic conditions it is not known whether Treg modulate CD8+ T cell responses through this mechanism under steady-state conditions. Here we assess this using a mouse model in which dendritic cells (DC) are manipulated to present cognate antigen to CD8+ T cells either in the steady-state or after activation. Our observations show that Treg exert a check on expansion and effector differentiation of CD8+ T cells under strongly immunogenic conditions associated with TLR ligand activation of DC, and this is mediated by limiting IL-2 availability. In contrast, when DC remain unactivated, depletion of Treg has little apparent effect on effector differentiation or IL-2 homeostasis. We conclude that while modulation of IL-2 homeostasis is an important mechanism through which Treg control CD8+ effector differentiation under immunogenic conditions, this mechanism plays little role in modulating CD8+ T-cell differentiation under steady-state conditions.
Parathyroid Hormone and Calcitonin Regulating Calcium Levels
Stephanie Galea,Renald Blundell
Research Journal of Biological Sciences , 2012, DOI: 10.3923/rjbsci.2011.183.186
Abstract: Maintaining normal calcium levels within the body (8.5-10 mg dL-1) requires the action of two hormones in particular: Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and calcitonin (http://www.bloodbook.com/ranges.html). In lower calcium levels, PTH is released and works in such a way as to increase the calcium back to the normal range. Calcitonin acts exactly in the inverse way by targeting osteoclasts and osteoblasts. A somewhat constant amount of calcium is lost from the body through fecal excretion. In the gut, absorption and secretion of calcium and phosphate occurs, depending on the free ionized calcium in the extracellular fluid. The amount of calcium in the extracellular fluid also influences excretion of calcium in the renal system. The largest pool of calcium is found in bone which is essential in calcium homeostasis. This is because through bone remodelling, calcium may be taken up from the extracellular fluid or given up to the extracellular fluid depending on the presence of hormones in a process known as osteolytic osteolysis. The processes mentioned before are mediated through PTH, calcitonin and 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol.
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