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William Malarkey, MD and Prabu David, PhD

Award Name Community Pilot 2009
Award Date 03/01/2009


Effects of Meditative Prayer and Mindfulness on Health

Prabu David, PhD Associate Professor of the School of Communication, and William Malarkey, MD have been awarded a Pilot Grant for Community Engagement in Research through the OSU Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The purpose of these community engagement projects is to give OSU faculty members the opportunity to develop strong research partnerships with community organizations. David and Malarkey are working with the Vineyard Church of Columbus in order to survey and study the relationship between spirituality and general health.

Their research is based on the proposal that spirituality and other resilience resources can provide individuals with better coping skills, which can in turn mitigate stress to improve overall health. They define resilience as the ability to bounce back and sustain positive affect in the face of adversity.

David and Malarkey have surveyed a large population of Vineyard members, ranging in age from 20 to 80, in order to determine if people who possess certain resilient qualities are more or less likely to have health symptoms. Through this research they are able to gain a better understanding of certain pre-disease markers, characteristics that coincide with an increased likelihood of chronic diseases, and the likelihood of certain individuals visiting the doctor more often or having increased health care costs.

David and Malarkey hope that this study will allow them to get a better idea of how resilience, as a result of spirituality, can affect individuals in regard to probability of illness, recovery from illness, and overall quality of life. They are also conducting a similar survey through a national panel of over 1,000 participants.

“Ideally, we want to evaluate resilience measures in a managed health organization and examine the predictability of risk and health expenditures,” Malarkey said.

David and Malarkey’s overarching goal is to eventually change the way that health care professionals look at health and illness predictors. They believe that in many instances focusing on an individual’s strengths, in addition to factors of vulnerability and risk, may provide a better forecast of an individual’s health and utilization of health resources.

“We want to begin to shift the focus of [patients’ and providers’] thinking…so that measures of resilience are valued as much as negative predictors or symptoms when predicting health outcomes,” Malarkey said.

By Brooke Norris, Thursday, April 8, 2010

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