what we do
Our lab projects target the intersection of health behaviors, psycho-social risk factors, and chronic disease with a focus in the area of pain and obesity. Pain is a common problem that rarely presents itself in isolation. Individuals who suffer with chronic pain frequently experience significant psycho social distress along with other physical concerns and behavioral risk factors. In keeping with this finding, our research focuses on understanding and addressing the problem of pain alongside other issues whether physical (e.g., hepatitis C), psychiatric (e.g., depression), and/or health risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, poor diet, and limited physical activity).The goal of this research is to inform, develop, and evaluate intervention and prevention strategies that effectively and efficiently target chronic pain alongside its psychological and/or physical co-morbidities.
- Integrated Behavioral Self-management Simultaneously Targeting Obesity and Pain: The STOP Trial: The goal of this study is to understand the relationship between obesity and chronic pain and develop new treatments to address these common conditions. Participants are randomized to receive one of three treatments: pain management treatment, weight loss treatment, or a unique, integrated treatment blending the gold standard treatments for pain and obesity. This study is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Health Research Formula Funds.
- The Relationship between Pain and Stress-Induced Eating: This 3-year study, currently under review for funding at NIH, proposes a laboratory paradigm of stress-induced eating using pain as a stressor. Primary study aims are 1) To test whether pain catastrophizing, anxiety sensitivity, and pain-related fear are vulnerabilities that contribute to increased caloric intake following a painful stressor in obese compared to normal weight adults and 2) To examine coping response patterns utilized by obese and normal weight adults during an experimental pain task, and the association between these response patterns and caloric intake.
- Discriminatory Stressors and Obesogenic Eating Behaviors: Participate in a study that looks at how different forms of media (i.e. written vs. film) can determine how information can be retained differently. We also look at different factors that could affect memory, such as mood. Participants are asked to come to one 1-hour session. During this session they will either be presented with a 10 minute movie clip or with a written passage. After either condition participants are asked to fill out a questionnaire based on what they were exposed to (i.e. movie clip or written passage). They are also asked to complete several pen-and-paper questionnaires. These questionnaires will ask for information about your health habits, your mood, and how you view the world.
- Systematic Reviews to Inform Clinical Practice: Systematic reviews provide an important link between evidence and clinical decision-making by gathering and evaluating currently available evidence in one central and easily accessible location. They serve as one of the foundational elements of evidence-based practice. Systematic reviews can also highlight the need for research in a particular area, and help establish the author(s) as an ‘expert’ in a topic. Lab members are currently working on several systematic reviews aligned with our research interests (e.g., meta-analysis on psychosocial treatments for cancer-related pain; systematic review of interventions to promote quality of life in cancer caregivers; systematic review on psychosocial treatments for pain and obesity).
- Collaborations with the Department of Veterans Affairs: Several lab-based projects involve examining existing data collected in collaboration with a number of different VA hospitals nationwide. For example, one project that recently completed data collection is a randomized clinical trial examining whether PDA-based decision-support tools encouraging healthful diet and physical activity can result in sustained weight-loss and pain reduction among adults with pain and obesity. A second project involves qualitative data examining the relationship between pain and obesity in a veteran sample.