Ongoing Research

Life Meaning and Healthy Hearts Lab Study

The purpose of this study is to examine how thinking about important events in one’s life provides purpose and meaning in life and may change blood pressure, heart rate, and other cardiovascular responses to stress. We have finalized the study protocol and data collection is beginning.

ELM (Eat, Love, Move) Lifestyle Intervention for Remission of Metabolic Syndrome

This collaborative study is being conducted at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center with colleagues at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who developed the intervention. The 6 month lifestyle change intervention focuses on healthy diet, physical activity, and a number of psychologically based interventions including mindfulness components. Preliminary results in Chicago suggest greater than 50% of participants experienced remission of metabolic syndrome at 2.5 year follow-up. The Colorado pilot is currently underway.

Wellness Center

At the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (, our lab has been involved in a number of different research and clinical projects. These include examining predictors of membership retention, revising and evaluating a comprehensive Wellness Assessment, delivering stress-management to a reality television show (Extreme Weight Loss) participants, and developing and testing meaning-based interventions to increase physical activity maintenance.

Couples & Heart Lab Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of prayer on stress responses in couples by examining fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate variability. In addition, the couples complete a structured conflict task and the research team uses a behavioral coding system based on the interpersonal circumplex model to assess their interpersonal styles.


The Colorado Meaning-Based Activity Project (Co-MAP) is a theory-based physical activity intervention designed for mobile technology that incorporates meaning and purpose within Self-Determination Theory. The intervention has gone through initial pilot testing, and we are currently pursuing ways to further test and implement the intervention.

SCAD Project

SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) is a rare condition that occurs most often in younger women who are otherwise healthy, with few or no risk factors for heart disease. Because this condition is rare and often occurs in otherwise healthy individuals, SCAD can cause isolation and anxiety – patients are few and far between and their condition is often misunderstood. We are currently exploring development of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) app with the aim to address the psychosocial needs of SCAD patients.

Medical Decision-Making

A recent interest in the lab has been Lacey Clement’s work with faculty on the Anschutz Medical Campus examining meaning and terror management as predictors of medical decision-making. Lacey Clement’s dissertation proposal is titled “Existential Factors Influencing End-of-Life Treatment Decision Making: The Role of Death, Anxiety, and Meaning in Life in Choosing to Receive Destination Therapy Left Ventricular Assist Device in Advanced Heart Failure Patients.”

Recent Previous Research

Denver Spirited Heart

Denver Spirited Heart is a 12-week, mail-based, psychospiritual intervention to improve quality of life for patients with heart failure. Modules focus on stress and coping, lifestyle changes, and spirituality. The initial trial of the intervention was completed in 2012.

FACIT-Sp Meta-analysis

We are currently working on a meta-analysis using the FACIT-Sp, a widely-used measure of spiritual well-being in patients with chronic illnesses. The FACIT-Sp has had considerable criticism because some items seem to measure general well-being rather than spirituality. The purpose of this meta-analysis and review is to understand relationships between the FACIT-Sp and other measures of general well-being and religiousness/spirituality.

AF Williams Health Coaching

As part of our work at AF Williams, a family medicine and primary care clinic located in Stapleton (Denver), CO and affiliated with the University of Colorado Hospital system, we conducted a systematic review of health coaching intervention in outpatient medical settings. We also developed a health coaching protocol and subsequently implemented the health coaching clinical services in the clinic. Finally, we are currently evaluating health outcomes for patients who received health coaching and are presenting those data at national conferences.