Senior nursing majors Daniel McHale and Melissa Prewasnicak discussed their research on video game addiction during the community health poster presentaton on Nov. 15, 2019.

Senior nursing students in professor Sharon Manning Shaffer’s Nursing in Community Health class discussed their research during a poster presentation on Nov. 15, 2019, in Niagara University’s Gallagher Center.

Their posters addressed community health problems such as sleep deprivation, hypertension, video game addiction, the opioid epidemic, poverty and its relation to Type II diabetes, and electronic cigarettes, and provided information about the issues as well as intervention plans and ways to educate patients about healthy choices that can assist with disease and illness prevention.

Courtney Kestenblatt, from Rochester, N.Y., Sara Andrzejewski, from East Concord, N.Y., and Sarah Martin, from Derby, N.Y., addressed the growing issue of e-cigarettes.

“Kids that are doing it don’t have a lot of education on it, they just know that their friends are doing it, so they want to do it, too,” said Andrzejewski.

Their poster detailed the chemicals present in e-cigarettes, the diseases linked to their use, and other potential hazards of using them, such as burns from batteries and poisoning from ingesting the liquid.

“I found it interesting because you don’t know the long-term effects (of smoking e-cigarettes),” said Martin. “When cigarettes came out, everybody was smoking them, and now you find out it leads to cancer. So it’s interesting to see what will happen in the next 10 years.”

Hannah Montie, a student from Niagara Falls, N.Y., researched the opioid epidemic.

“Niagara County sits above the average for the United States and New York,” she said. “I picked this (topic) because it’s big in the area. I work at a hospital and I see a lot of it. It hits close to home because it’s happening all around us.”

Her poster included the story of Dr. Pravin Mehta, a former Niagara Falls doctor who signed tens of thousands of prescriptions over a five-year period, as well as information about how addiction occurs, the effect of opioids on the body, and the interventions available.

Video game addiction was the health issue explored by Daniel McHale of Syracuse, N.Y., and Melissa Prewasnicak of Rochester, N.Y. Both noted that people often consider addiction a substance-based condition, but behaviors like playing video games can be addictive, as well. The vast majority of people who experience video game addiction (97%) are between the ages of 12-17, and those with addiction in their families are more susceptible to the disease. There is also a correlation between depression and anxiety and the use of video games.

“We thought it was important, because people in the community need to be able to identify (video game addiction) as an actual addiction, so we want to change the way people look at addiction,” Prewasnicak explained.

McHale came up with the idea while researching ADHD for one of his psychology classes. Noticing that people with that condition often have an addiction to video games, he looked to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and was surprised to discover that the condition was not addressed in the book. The two students are hoping that video game addiction will be included in future editions so that it can be considered a disorder and research can be done to find ways to successfully treat it.

Type II diabetes is often more prevalent in areas experiencing poverty, so James Gorman of Rochester, N.Y., and Chloe Hirschfelt of Amherst, N.Y, looked at ways to educate these communities about healthy food and how to prepare it. Hirschfelt noted that people tend to believe that fast food is less expensive than more nutritious options, so offering seminars in places where they can reach the most people, such as churches and schools, would help to teach them both the affordability and the benefits of healthy eating. She also said that opportunities for families of diabetics to come together and share their experiences would be helpful, as well.   

Gorman said that he found the topic interesting because the condition “is very, very easily preventable” through diet. “The American Dietetics Association found that vegetarians have lower rates of Type II diabetes than nonvegetarians, so I think incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet can definitely help keep blood sugar down.”

“It’s what we’ve seen in the community, so it makes sense to talk about it,” Hirschfelt added. “It pertains to all communities. Nationwide, there’s more children being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, but if we start early, maybe we can eliminate Type II or make it (more) manageable.”