Ongoing Studies

The aim of this project is to test whether a short daily intervention involving yoga, somatic breathing, intention setting, and caring practices results in reduced psychological and physiological symptoms related to stress and burnout among health caregivers.

This research is proposed to 1) find out how stress impacts caregiving and broader life functioning over a 10 month period, and 2) determine whether a professional development program designed to help heath caregivers deal with stress and emotions in daily life results in improvements in caregiver well-being and physical health...

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Behavioral data have provided strong evidence linking marital interactions and physiological functioning (i.e., cardiovascular reactivity and immune response), but such data have been collected primarily in a laboratory setting and with healthy couples. An innovative and ecologically valid method for capturing marital interactions and health is to observe behavior in the targets’ natural environment. The aims of this feasibility study are to: 1) assess ambulatory heart rate variability (HRV) in chronic pain patient and spouse; 2) capture patient pain disclosure and spouse verbal responses...

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This daily diary study of 152 older adults with knee osteoarthritis and their spouses  focuses on spouses’ daily behaviors (e.g., empathic responses, autonomy support, and solicitousness). Our overall goal is to examine the effects of daily positive and negative spousal behaviors on patient functioning (pain, mood, sleep, physical activity) and whether daily illness cognitions (i.e., self-efficacy, catastrophizing) explain these effects. Patients and spouses were assessed three times per day using electronic diaries while also wearing accelerometers to measure daytime physical activity. We...

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The Einstein Aging Study (EAS) is a longitudinal study of cognitive aging. Since 1980, the EAS team has examined both normal aging and challenges associated with aging, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. EAS is a noteworthy study because it constitutes a large and racially and economically-diverse group of older adults. Currently, there are over 600 participants in the study.

The Center for Healthy Aging is partnered with Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York for this study. EAS is supported by grants from the National Institute of Aging.

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Effects of Stress on Cognition, Aging, Physiology, and Emotions (ESCAPE) is an NIA funded study that examines the mechanisms that link stress to cognitive aging. It is a longitudinal measurement-burst design study that aims to examine short-term fluctuations and long-term change in cognitive function within and between individuals across various stress contexts (e.g., daily hassles, major life events, chronic strains). This ongoing study involves 320 adults who will complete 8 biannual ‘bursts’ of 14 days of ecological momentary assessments (EMA). In the EMA component of the study,...

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FaceAge is a cross-disciplinary group of research collaborators from the arts, gerontology, nursing, and the humanities. Through articulating the experiences of those who engage in the installation, we aim to demonstrate FaceAge as a medium from which changes in attitude can evolve. FaceAge research is focused on translating the impact of this innovative arts project and its effects on both younger and older adults’ attitudes towards aging. We aim for a deeper understanding of the lived experience for individuals across generations and how this phenomenology...

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The Mid-Atlantic Geriatric Workforce Development Center is operating under a 3 year grant (2015-2018). The consortium partners are the University of Pittsburgh, the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which is the largest free-standing health care provider in PA. Through our collaborating partnership we will provide interprofessional training and access to resources for older adults and their families throughout Western Pennsylvania. Six major training initiatives, each addressing...

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This project extends the longitudinal ESCAPE study (PI: Sliwinski) to examine the degree to which stress-related alterations of both the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and in inflammation (both basal inflammation and inflammatory responses) relate to changes in cognitive function, and how longer-term changes in inflammatory profiles account for cognitive decline. The degree to which tendencies toward heightened rumination or emotion across time may extend stress responses, moderate inflammation, and accelerate long-term changes in cognition will also be determined.

Data...

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The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Refresher is an extension of the decade long longitudinal study of midlife adult health and well-being. MIDUS employs a multidisciplinary team of scholars and researchers to understand the interrelationships among physical, emotional, and cognitive health in a nationally representative sample of adults ranging in age from 20-80.

The MIDUS Refresher incorporates a wide range of measures to examine the effects of the current economic climate on individuals from all walks of life. Researchers are investigating peoples’...

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Most adults who suffer from a chronic illness are married or in an intimate relationship, yet the vast majority of behavioral interventions fail to address this relationship’s impact or the effects of illness on the partner. The purpose of this K02 Independent Scientist Award is to advance the development of couple-oriented interventions (CIs) for chronic illness that benefit both patients and spouses and also inform models of marriage and health. Career development activities will address design, measurement, and analysis issues that are critical for the success of future CI research....

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The purpose of this research is to test whether a behavioral intervention can reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. Participants keep electronic diaries on smartphones and twice a day report about seizures, mood, and stress for an 8 week baseline period. They are then assigned one of two types of focused attention interventions. Participants are asked to practice their assigned technique 2-3 times a day for the next 12 weeks while continuing to maintain the electronic diaries. Eligible subjects include adults 18 years and above with partial epilepsy, experiencing at...

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Maintaining a clear, active mind can mean the difference between retaining and losing independence for older adults. In 2002, 5.4 million U.S. adults (22%) over the age of 70 were living with some form of cognitive impairment. Identifying opportunities to promote healthy aging represents a critical step toward controlling health care costs and improving the quality of life for seniors. This proposal targets cognitive impairment in elders, and emphasizes early detection and prevention because delaying or avoiding the onset of clinical dementia has the largest impact on both public and...

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Penn State is part of the Work, Family Health Network (WFHN), which is comprised of eight coordinating organizations conducting research on how best to improve the health of workers and their families and reduce work-family conflict, while also benefiting the organizations. The Workplace Practices and Daily Family Well-Being Project (PI: David Almeida) involves daily diary interviews for eight consecutive days with employees and one of their children aged 9 through 17 before and twelve months after an employer-initiated workplace program designed to increase employee flexibility and...

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