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Adam Gonzalez, PhD and Brittain Mahaffey, PhD Present Mind-Body Research at Integrative Medicine Research Forum

Adam Gonzalez, PhD

November 10, 2014 – Assistant Professor Adam Gonzalez, PhD and Post-doctoral Fellow Brittain Mahaffey, PhD presented their latest research findings at the inaugural Integrative Medicine Research Forum at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital on November 3, 2014.

Dr. Gonzalez reported on results from a clinical effectiveness study evaluating a mind-body treatment, called the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program, to simultaneously reduce physical and mental health symptoms in patients presenting for treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.

Dr. Gonzalez and his colleagues stratified study participants into three groups: those presenting with physical health concerns only, those with mental health concerns only and those with both physical and mental health concerns. After participants completed the 8-session program, members of all three groups reported moderate to large improvements in physical and mental health symptoms, demonstrating for the first time that the program is as effective for people with co-morbid physical and mental health symptoms as it is for those with either physical or mental health symptoms alone. Dr. Gonzalez was one of 12 researchers who were chosen to present their study results in a 1-minute “elevator pitch.”

Brittain Mahaffey, PhD

Brittain Mahaffey reported on the development of an 8-session Health Enhancement Program designed to serve as a standardized comparative treatment in the evaluation of the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program and similar mind-body treatments. The Health Enhancement Program resembles the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program in many ways, but does not include relaxation response training and stress reappraisal coping training, hypothesized to be the program’s “active ingredients.” Dr. Mahaffey’s preliminary study suggested that the Health Enhancement Program is a credible and acceptable comparator and is capable of producing improvements in nutrition, physical activities, stress management and other health behaviors.

Drs. Gonzalez, Mahaffey, and colleagues are in the process of evaluating the efficacy of the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program compared to the Health Enhancement Program in responders to the World Trade Center disaster. This randomized clinical trial is funded by a three-year grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The Relaxation Response Resiliency Program was developed at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.