Ongoing Research

One of the major strengths of the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing is the diversity of our faculty. With research interests that span the health and wellbeing fields, our faculty demonstrate the Center's commitment to cutting-edge thinking and innovation. And because of our strong collaborations with partners within the University, and the local, national and international communities, the Center is considered a leader in research around integrative health and wellbeing.

You may learn more about the Center's ongoing research by clicking through the list below.

Research In Progress
  • Cancer and Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery After Chemotherapy

    Primary Investigator: Anne Blaes, M.D.

    Co-PI: Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN

    The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) on the health-related quality of life (HRQL) in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy. 

    The secondary objectives of this study are:

    • To evaluate the effect of MBCR on fatigue in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy
    • To evaluate the effect of MBCR on sleep in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy
    • To evaluate the effect of MBCR on sexual function in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy
    • To evaluate the effect of MBCR on self-compassion in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy
    • To evaluate the effect of MBCR on immunologic function of natural killer cells in survivors of breast, colorectal, and gynecologic cancers who have recently completed chemotherapy
  • Community-Based Interventions for Persons Newly Diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and Their Care Partners: A Pilot Study

    Primary Investigators: Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, Terry Barcley, Kathryn Ringham

    Abstract: The specific aims of this study are as follows:

    • 1) Evaluate the feasibility of conducting a large randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program to a standard education and support group program, Memory Club, on mood and psychological symptoms, coping, stress reduction, and other outcomes for patients with memory loss and their care partners. Feasibility will be assessed via:
      a) subject interest in and ease of recruitment for a mindfulness based program compared to the community based Memory Club program;
      b) participants' willingness to be randomized into either mindfulness or Memory Club groups
      c) subject retention in both groups
      d) rates of compliance with program assignments, homework, and practice logs
      e) ability of subjects with dementia and their care partners to comply with the program evaluation plan
    • 2) Estimate the efficacy of a mindfulness based program compared to a standard community education and support program, Memory Club, for patients with memory loss and their care partners. It is expected that participants in the mindfulness program will evidence equal or greater benefits than Memory Club participants on outcome measures such as perceived stress, mood, psychological wellbeing, dyadic intimacy, and perceived caregiver burden. Outcomes in the two groups will then be used to estimate the treatment effect sizes which will be used to power a future randomized controlled trial.
  • The Effect of Active Music Therapy Interventions on Anxiety and Coping Behaviors in Children with Cancer

    Principal Investigator: Behnke, C., A. Heiderschiet, et al

    Funding Source: American Music Therapy Association

    Grant Period: Ongoing

  • Lite-HEARTEN Vascular Functioning Study

    Principal Investigator: Ruth Lindquist, PI

    Funding Source: Minneapolis Heart Institute Women's Program and Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

    Grant Period: Ongoing

    Abstract: Pilot study examining aerobic exercise vs. MBSR/support group vs. control to determine effects on vascular functioning and exercise capacity.

  • Green Tea and Reduction of Breast Cancer Risk

    Principal Investigator: Mindy S. Kurzer, PI

    Funding Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    Grant Period: Current - Study active, but not enrolling

    Abstract: Green Tea and Reduction of Breast Cancer Risk Abstract
    The ultimate goal of this proposal is to gain a full understanding of the mechanisms by which tea catechins inhibit breast carcinogenesis in humans. Green tea catechins have been shown to inhibit mammary carcinogenesis in rodents, and epidemiological studies, although inconsistent, have shown that women who regularly drink green tea have reduced breast cancer risk. This inconsistency may likely be due to genetic differences in catechin metabolism. Previous studies have shown that green tea consumption is associated with reduced breast cancer risk only in women with the low-activity catechol-O methyltransferase (COMT) genotype. This is consistent with the understanding that COMT activity significantly influences catechin metabolism and excretion. The purpose of this proposal is to perform a clinical trial to test the hypotheses (generated from experimental animal and epidemiological studies) that green tea consumption reduces breast cancer risk, and that this effect is seen primarily in women with the low-activity COMT genotype.We will study this by evaluating the effects of green tea extract on breast cancer biomarkers in women who have been recruited on the basis of their COMT genotype.We will conduct a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 800 postmenopausal women who are in the upper half of mammographic density, a recognized risk factor for breast cancer. The 800 high-risk women (400 low-activity and 400 high-activity COMT genotype) will receive green tea extract containing 800 mg epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, the most potent of the tea catechins) or placebo pills daily for 12 months. Our primary aims are to determine the effects of 12 months of green tea extract supplementation on the following recognized biomarkers of breast cancer risk: mammographic density; plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), IGF binding protein 3, estrone, estradiol, androstenedione and sex hormone binding globulin. Our secondary aims are to determine the effects of green tea extract on proposed biomarkers of breast cancer risk including urinary estrogen metabolites and plasma F2-isoprostanes. We hypothesize that the beneficial effects of green tea extract on these biomarkers will be seen primarily in the low-activity COMT group. By using a nutrigenomic approach, this targeted nutrition intervention study will help clarify the mechanisms by which green tea lowers breast cancer risk as well as identify a subpopulation most responsive to green tea.

  • Journeys to Wellness: A Kidney Transplant Candidate Study

    Principal Investigator: Cynthia Gross, Professor, College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota

    Funding Source and Amount: NIH NIDDK DK1308, Program Project Grant, Arthur Matas, Director; $863, 237 (total costs)

    Grant Period: 8/27/09-3/31/13

    Abstract: For persons waiting for a kidney transplant, the uncertainty of living with a worsening chronic illness, and the demands of kidney dialysis, creates stresses that diminish quality of life. Journeys is a clinical trial to determine if waiting-list patients can benefit from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Patients with kidney failure will be randomized to either an 8-week MBSR program or to a control support group. MBSR will be delivered in an innovative telephone-adapted format called tMBSR (t for telephone) which is designed for patients who are geographically dispersed or have mobility problems. The support group will have two in-person gatherings and six weekly telephone conferences. Anxiety, depression, sleep and quality of life outcomes will be assessed pre- and post-intervention and at six months follow-up. Physiologic markers of stress (salivary cortisols) and sleep monitors (actigraphy) will also be evaluated. A secondary aim is to determine if patients who have received this training will report greater treatment satisfaction and less distress from pain following hospitalization for transplant surgery.

    More information about this study is available by contacting the enrollment coordinator, Becky Johnson, at 612-624-6115 or by e-mail at Journeys@umn.edu.

  • Effect of a Tibetan Medicine Educational Intervention on the Constitutional Self-Assessment Tool & Lifestyle Guidelines Tool

    Paper authors: Prasek, A., Cameron, M. E., & Namdul, T. 

    Dates: 2011-present

    Status: In progress

    Funding: This study is funded by a Center of Spirituality & Healing (CSH) Mini-Grant and the CSH Tibetan Healing Initiative at the University of Minnesota.

  • Effectiveness of a Tibetan Medicine Intervention in a Mind-Body Skills Group

    Study facilitators: Cameron, M. E., Clevenger, B., Prasek, A., & Namdul, T.

    Dates: 2011-present

    Status: Study in progress 

    Funding: This study is funded by a Center of Spirituality & Healing (CSH) Mini-Grant and the CSH Tibetan Healing Initiative at the University of Minnesota.

  • Compassion on Campus

    Study facilitator: Aimee Prasek, PhD student, Nursing

    Dates: Present

    Status: In progress

  • Mindfulness-Based Yoga for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Pilot Study Examining the Difference between Yoga and Traditional Exercise on Depressive Symptoms in Middle-Aged Women

    Study Facilitator: Katie Schuver, PhD Candidate in Kinesiology

    Dates: Present

    Status: In progress

  • The Lived Experience of Self-compassion in Social Workers

    Author: Susan Rickers, PhD in Social Work

    Dates: Present

    Status: In progress

  • College Students Emotional Experience of Yoga: A Qualitative Study

    Study Facilitator: Anna Roth, PhD Candidate in Counseling

    Dates: Present

    Study: In progress

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  • Last modified on July 1, 2013