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Research

imageThe Mind-Body Clinical Research Center also conducts basic laboratory and applied clinical research among individuals with and without chronic illnesses. The center’s main research focus is to understand and treat mood and anxiety disorders, pain, tobacco use and health management.

Basic laboratory research: The goal is to understand the emotional, cognitive, neurobiological, and immunological risk and resiliency factors that underlie mind-body and behavioral health problems among individuals with and without chronic illnesses.

Applied clinical research: Taking what we learn from our basic laboratory research, we then develop, test and refine mind-body behavioral health treatments that target specific risk and resiliency factors for illness prevention and intervention. We conduct this research collaboratively with national experts in anxiety and mood management, tobacco control and mind-body treatment.

This two-pronged approach is ideal to advance science and provide optimal integrative care for patients.

Our current research studies focus on the following:

 

Ongoing Research

Treating Prenatal Maternal Stress

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Mahaffey recently received a 5-year K23 Award from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to develop a new program for women experiencing elevated stress during pregnancy. Phase I of this project will involve conducting focus groups aimed at improving our understanding the barriers pregnant women face to getting access to effective mental healthcare.  Phase II will involve an online randomized clinical trial of the SMART Pregnancy program. SMART is a comprehensive lifestyle program based on the principles and practices of mind body medicine. The program reduces the impact of stress through a variety of skill-building exercises scientifically shown to improve physical health, mood, and well-being.

We are currently recruiting pregnant and postpartum (< 6 months) women to take part in a short, 90-minute focus group aimed at helping us to understand how stress affects pregnant women and how we can help women to cope better during and after pregnancy. 

Topics discussed will include: 

  • The types of stress you experience 
  • Barriers to getting support during pregnancy 
  • Ways to make it easier to get support 
  • You may be compensated up to $50 for your time 

 

Visit us on Facebook @SBUMindBodyCenter or call us a 631-632-3797 for more information on upcoming focus groups.

 

Helping Astronauts Stay Psychologically Healthy

Astronauts are exposed to extreme environments and behavioral health risks during space missions including living and working in close/claustrophobic conditions, sleep and circadian rhythm disruption, physiological changes and behavioral adaptation to microgravity, monotony, interpersonal issues with space crew and ground-based mission control members, and separation from family and friends. Despite these challenges, evidence suggests that psychological health of astronauts has typically remained intact during short duration missions.

Little is known, however, on how astronauts will react psychologically during and after long duration space missions, such as those required to travel to a near Earth asteroid or Mars.
Missions to Mars are expected to last 2.5 years with a crew of 6-7 astronauts, and longer missions to the outer solar system may last 10+ years. As such, astronauts will be faced with chronic stressors including separation from loved ones, living and working in extreme environments, loss of natural day/light cycles, partial gravity, Earth being out of sight, and persistent threats of danger such as exposure to radioactivity. In the absence of effective coping skills, these stressors can lead to psychological and behavioral health conditions such as depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

Long-duration missions involve a unique stressor that has not been a concern on previous
missions—the lack of real-time communication with Earth. It is expected that long-duration missions will have communication time lapses of 20-40 minutes when communicating with earth. Little is known about how to provide psychological support when real-time communication is not possible.

Our group recently completed 3 year grant from NASA to evaluate the use of technology for providing asynchronous psychotherapy (i.e., therapy without real-time communication with a therapist). Check back soon for updates on our findings!