Researchers at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing in Maywood, Ill., and Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill., recently were given a research award to study mindfulness-based stress reduction in women veterans at risk for heart disease. According to a news release, they will receive about $1.1 million for this four-year study from the VA Nursing Research Initiative. MBSR is a form of complementary medicine that combines yoga and meditation.
“Women veterans are a rapidly growing population with unique health needs,” Karen Saban, RN, PhD, APRN, CNRN, associate professor at Marcella Niehoff and health science researcher at the Hines VA, said in the release. “This research award will allow us to improve the health and quality of life of those who have served using alternative methods of care.”
Researchers will study 138 women veterans who have at least two risk factors for heart disease. The eight-week study will determine the extent to which training in MBSR improves psychological well-being, decreases inflammation and reduces heart disease risk. Researchers also will evaluate protective measures and risk factors, such as previous life adversity, social support and health behaviors that may alter the positive effects of MBSR.
Using MBSR to reduce stress and develop coping strategies might improve psychological well-being and reduce heart disease risk in women veterans, according to the release. Mindfulness techniques also have been found to reduce symptoms of depression and improve quality of life in veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Previous research conducted at Loyola demonstrated that MBSR improved psychological well-being and immune function in women with breast cancer,” Linda Janusek, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and endowed chair at Marcella Niehoff and research award mentor and co-investigator, said in the release. “We look forward to partnering with the VA to determine the impact mindfulness has on psychological well-being and heart disease risk in women veterans.”
The other research award mentor is Eileen Collins, RN, PhD, FAACVPR, FAAN, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and University of Illinois at Chicago.