Health psychologists have long recognized the positive effects that regular mindfulness practices like meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, self-compassion and mind-body exercises have on a person’s physical and mental health.
Jeffery greeson, Ph.D.
Clinical health psychologist
Areas of expertise:
Mindfulness meditation, stress, integrated health care
While public interest in the mind-body connection and mindfulness training has boomed in recent years, scientists are seeking more quantitative data to measure the relationship between mindfulness, stress and health.
Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and director of the Mindfulness, Stress and Health Lab at Rowan, explains that the lab is working to bridge psychology and medicine with the understanding that “mental health and physical health are two sides of the same coin.”
“Everyone is a stakeholder, knowing that stress has an impact on our health,” says Greeson, whose lab is an interdisciplinary collaboration in Rowan University’s College of Science & Mathematics.
In a recent study, Greeson and co-principal investigator, Ludmil Mitrev, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU), examined physician compassion and surgery outcomes. The study showed measurable results in patients who rated their anesthesiologist as compassionate based on a five-item survey. Across the board, patients who sensed more compassion from their providers showed lower anxiety prior to surgery and less pain and opioid use after their procedures.
As co-director of research for CMSRU’s Center for Humanism, Greeson will also measure the effectiveness of a physician support program at Cooper University Hospital modeled after one held at the Mayo Clinic. The COMPASS program, which stands for Colleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction, seeks to reduce high stress and burnout rates among health workers through connection and compassion during monthly meals together.
Recently, Greeson’s lab secured a grant award from the New Jersey Health Foundation to study the potential benefit of adding mindfulness practices during dialysis treatment for late-stage kidney disease patients.
It’s among the many ways Greeson is working to measure the impact of integrating mindfulness into the delivery of health care.
“The central concept everyone understands is ‘stress has an impact on our health,’ whether you’re a student, an employee, a medical patient or a health care provider,” Greeson says. “The question is, ‘What’s the link between being mindful and being healthy?’”
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