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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

East Tennessee Publishes Research on Physical Activity and Suicidal Behaviors

Drs. Jodi Southerland, Shimin Zheng, and Deborah Slawson have published research on the relationship between physical activity and suicidal behaviors in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.  The article, “Relationship Between Physical Activity and Suicidal Behaviors Among 65,182 Middle School Students,” seeks to fill the gap in middle school age youth research where less is known about the psychosocial benefits are participating in physical activity. Dr. Mark Dula, Master in Public Health student in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology, and Dr. Yan Cao, Research and Evaluation Services Coordinator for the Center for Nursing Research at ETSU, are co-authors.

The authors examined a secondary analysis of the 2010 Tennessee Middle School YRBS data conducted among 65,182 middle school students. Items examined were physical activity, sports team engagement, physical education class, screen time, suicidal behaviors, drug/substance use, extreme weight control behaviors, weight status and weight misperceptions, and selected personal characteristics.

Findings suggest that sports team engagement is associated with reduced risk for suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. The authors found no relationships, however, between suicidal thoughts and either physical activity or physical education class attendance. The authors concluded that asking adolescents about sports team engagement may help clinicians screen for risk of suicidal behaviors.

Dr. Jodi Southerland is an instructor in the department of community and behavioral health and MPH Coordinator for the College of Public Health. Dr. Shimin Zheng is an assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology. Dr. Deborah Slawson is chair of the department of community and behavioral health. The Journal of Physical Activity and Health publishes original research and review papers examining the relationship between physical activity and health, studying physical activity as an exposure as well as an outcome.