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Explore (NY). 2011 Jul-Aug;7(4):222-33. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2011.04.002.

Healing the heart: a randomized pilot study of a spiritual retreat for depression in acute coronary syndrome patients.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. swarber@umich.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Depression is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in coronary heart disease. Numerous conventional and complementary therapies may address depression. Few involving spirituality have been tested.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a nondenominational spiritual retreat, Medicine for the Earth (MFTE), on depression and other measures of well-being six- to 18-months post acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

DESIGN/SETTING:

A randomized controlled pilot study of MFTE, Lifestyle Change Program (LCP), or usual cardiac care (control) was conducted in Southeastern Michigan.

PARTICIPANTS:

ACS patients were recruited via local and national advertising (n = 58 enrolled, 41 completed).

INTERVENTIONS:

The four-day MFTE intervention included guided imagery, meditation, drumming, journal writing, and nature-based activities. The four-day LCP included nutrition education, exercise, and stress management. Both retreat groups received follow-up phone coaching biweekly for three months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Validated self-report scales of depression, spiritual well-being, perceived stress, and hope were collected at baseline, immediately post-retreat, and at three and six months.

RESULTS:

Depression was not significantly different among groups (P = .21). However, the MFTE group had the highest depression scores at baseline and had significantly lower scores at all postintervention time points (P ≤ .002). Hope significantly improved among MFTE participants, an effect that persisted at three- and six-month follow-up (P = .014). Although several measures showed improvement in all groups by six months, the MFTE group had immediate improvement post-retreat, which was maintained.

CONCLUSIONS:

This pilot study shows that a nondenominational spiritual retreat, MFTE, can be used to increase hope while reducing depression in patients with ACS.

PMID:
21724155
DOI:
10.1016/j.explore.2011.04.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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