NEWBURGH - Yasmine Kalkstein, assistant professor of psychology at Mount Saint Mary College, and psychology student Rosemarie Whyte, recently discussed "Googling Your Way Through Pregnancy: Examining Internet Use for Medical Decision Making."
Kalkstein and Whyte were recently awarded "Best Talk" at the 33rd Annual Association for Marketing & Health Care Research Conference for "The Use of Internet Discussion Boards as a Decision Aid for a Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean: A Content Analysis of Initial Posts."
Kalkstein notes that 83 percent of pregnant women head online for information, to influence their behavior and decision making (Lagan, Sinclair, & Kernohan 2010).
"Pregnant women have a lot of questions about how their body is changing," said Kalkstein. "Resources on the internet can inform. If people are better informed, it can reduce their anxieties."
She added that the internet also offers anonymity, which allows women to ask questions they may be reluctant to discuss in person; and the opportunity to connect with other women who may be experiencing similar pregnancy issues.
However, Kalkstein warned that advice found on the internet may be inaccurate. Misconceptions, she pointed out, can be difficult to correct.
Kalkstein and Whyte studied online discussion boards for pregnant women. One population of women in need of support, said Kalkstein, are those grappling with whether to try a traditional birth after having had a cesarean section.
Those who opt for a repeat cesarean are at higher risk of uterine rupture, Kalkstein explained, and a cesarean is more expensive than a traditional birth. But a cesarean also provides women with a firm delivery date, and thus, the ability to plan ahead.
Many women take to the internet to help them make this choice, said Kalkstein. She noted it was one of the most discussed subjects on the message boards she and Whyte used in their research.
Kalkstein earned her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. She focused on decision making.
Whyte, a sophomore of College Point, N.Y., has worked over the last year with Kalkstein – including a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project – on coding and analyzing internet discussion board posts.
In another talk, looking at outward conditions, Kalkstein’s husband, Adam J. Kalkstein, recently discussed at the Mount "Separating Fact from Fiction in the Climate Change Debate."
An assistant professor of geography and environmental engineering at U.S. Military Academy, he earned his doctorate degree from Arizona State University and recently served as an adviser to the Army Science Board on a project examining the impact of climate change on the military. Currently, he is working with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory through a National Research Council grant to examine the impact of weather and climate on influenza outbreaks across the United States.
The goal of the Mount’s iROC seminar series is to "provide a forum for Mount faculty, staff, and students to present research proposals, preliminary data, and completed projects," explained Douglas A. Robinson, assistant professor of biology and coordinator of the program.
The iROCs feature various academic fields. Closing out this semester’s iROC series is a student research symposium on May 1.