Our Current Focus
STRESS REDUCTION TRAINING FOR HEALTHY AGING
Humans have a basic need to be socially connected, and social connection is an important factor for healthy aging and longevity. We are conducting the first rigorous and mechanistic test of whether stress management training programs (either mindfulness meditation or relaxation and health education) can foster social connection and inflammatory health among older adults.
The primary goal of the Life@CMU study is to identify and gain a deeper understanding of the psychological, social, and institutional factors that affect students’ overall health and academic success. We observe the day-to-day experiences of first-year students throughout their first semester using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). Participants report on current activities, social interactions, stress and traumatic experiences, mood, coping strategies, and health behaviors. Using a provided Fitbit and a mobile context AWARE app, participants also recorded continuous passive sensing measures of activity, sleep, location, and smartphone use behaviors during the entire semester.
There has been tremendous growth and interest in smartphone mindfulness programs, and Headspace is the most popular smartphone app worldwide. We have recently completed data collection on Headspace in the workplace, exploring how this mindfulness training program changes the brain, health, and one’s work.
THE ADVERSITY PROJECT
While we know a great deal about how stress can increase our susceptibility to a broad range of health problems, we know much less about what makes people resilient under stress. In fact, the modal response to life adversity is one of resilience. We are conducting a large qualitative interview study exploring how people respond to adversity, and coding these interviews for cross-cutting themes. We are exploring stress-buffering factors such as social connections, mindset, meaning, mindfulness, coping flexibility, and early life factors across a variety of adversity experiences in these rich interviews.
BREAST CANCER STUDY
In this remote study, participants complete online monthly writing activities once a month for 6 months, respond to questionnaires, and agree to use a special pill bottle for your aromatase inhibitor medication. We are actively enrolling participants and collecting data.
SMARTPHONE TRAINING FOR ATTENTION REGULATION STUDY
This is a multi-session study offering a 14-day at-home training program for stress reduction in IBS. There will also be three study appointments at CMU, each about 2 hours long. You may be eligible to participate if you are 18 years or older, diagnosed with IBS, fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and available 3-4 months for brief study activities. We are actively enrolling participants and collecting data.