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Piloting Implicit and Explicit Measures

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Piloting Implicit and Explicit Measures

Piloting Implicit and Explicit Measures: A Critical First Step in Rigorous Study of a Contemplative End-of-Life Care Training

This project is using an affective neuroscience approach (one that examines the relationship between neural processes and emotional states) to begin to understand the outcomes of the well-established Being with Dying contemplative training program for clinicians who provide care to the dying. Nurses and physicians who work with terminally ill and dying patients struggle with feelings of loss, futility, and moral anguish. They tend to experience high levels of chronic stress that ultimately lead to impaired clinical care and burnout. The contemplative end-of-life training program under investigation is designed to help such clinicians more effectively cope with and develop resilience in their challenging work. Begun in 1994, the 8-day intensive Being with Dying program created at the Upaya Zen Center by Roshi Joan Halifax is highly experiential, incorporating a number of contemplative practices grounded in Buddhist traditions, including mindfulness and other practices. Program evaluations and interviews clearly point to benefits of the program. However, to date, no systematic, objective assessment of the program has been completed. This team is undertaking such an assessment using a rigorous battery of measures (including both implicit and explicit tasks) to capture mechanisms and impacts of this contemplative training program. Through funding from the CSC, this group is focused on pilot testing of the measures, using a web-based program and a sample of non-clinicians. Results will inform the second phase: analysis of a large sample of clinicians. This research promises to yield new institutional and cross-disciplinary partnerships and models of investigation of value in the University community and beyond.

Key People: Coordinator: Susan Bauer-Wu, Professor, School of Nursing, University of Virginia. Other Participants: James Coan, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia; Larry Barsalou, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology, Emory University; Esther Papies, Assistant Professor, Social Psychology, Utrecht University; Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Institute/Upaya Zen Center; Anthony Back, School of Medicine, University of Washington; Cynda Rushton, Anne and George L. Bunting Chair in Clinical Ethics, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University.