Indiana State University Newsroom



Time magazine features Professor Jean Kristeller's research

February 25, 2009

An Indiana State University professor's research into the link between spirituality and health is featured in Time magazine.

The work of Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and co-director of Indiana State's Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, is included in a special "Mind & Body: How Faith Can Heal" issue of the international weekly news magazine.

The Feb. 23 cover story cites Kristeller's development of a guide for doctors who want to explore how cancer patients are drawing on their religious and spiritual resources. The approach has been evaluated in several studies, including a doctoral dissertation by former ISU student Mark Rhodes. In that research, 75 percent of patients said the approach was very helpful.

"Within as little as three weeks, patients who had participated in such discussions reported reduced feelings of depression, an improved quality of life and a greater sense that their doctors cared about them," according to the Time article.

Kristeller developed the guide after a survey she conducted of oncologists found that a large proportion of the cancer doctors felt it important to talk to patients about spiritual issues but did not do so because they did not know how to raise the topic and feared their patients would take offense. This ongoing work has included several studies, conducted in collaboration with Larry Cripe at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis, and with support from several oncologists in Terre Haute and elsewhere in the state, with current funding from the Metanexus Institute.

Development of the guide built upon earlier work in which Kristeller participated that explored how physicians could help their patients quit smoking.

"The recommended dialogue conformed to what's known as patient-centered care - a clinical way of saying doctors should ask questions, then clam up and listen to the answers," the magazine explains.

"The more patient-centered the conversations were, the more impact they had," Kristeller said. "The value of this exploration appears to be particularly strong for patients experiencing what we term 'spiritual distress' in that it appears to reassure them that their physicians are concerned about this aspect of who they are, and encourages them to seek further assistance with drawing on those resources, whether from hospital chaplains or in their own churches or community. More recent research we've done is showing that patients who successfully draw on their religious and spiritual resources are generally less depressed and adjust better to dealing with their cancer."

Kristeller's appearance in Time is far from the first example of her research being featured in national and international media. Hardly a month goes by without a major newspaper or other news outlet citing her groundbreaking studies on the use of mindfulness meditation to control binge eating and address weight management -- research that landed her two National Institutes of Health grants at ISU totaling more than $2 million. Her program, Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT), is now under further investigation at the University of California-San Francisco.

In January, her binge eating studies were featured in Oakland (Calif.) Magazine and the Dutch publication "Ageless Beauty."

A 2002 study Kristeller conducted was the first project using meditation for the treatment of eating disorders to be funded by the NIH.

The Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality has been named as a program of regional/state distinction at Indiana State as part of a program funded by the Lilly Endowment to strengthen ISU programs with national or regional reputations for quality.

Photo
Jean Kristeller

Contact: Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and director, Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, Indiana State University, 812-237-2467 or jkristeller@indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Indiana State University psychology professor Jean Kristeller's research into the link between spirituality and health is featured in Time magazine. The cover story of a special "Mind & Body: How Faith Can Heal" issue of the international newsmagazine cites Kristeller's development of a guide for doctors who want to explore how cancer patients draw on their religious and spiritual resources.

See Also:

Balancing work, life topic of conference at Indiana State

Indiana State University Distinguished Alumni practice ‘social rent'

New Horizons Information Day set for Dec. 15

“The Color Purple,” set for Nov. 13-16, is student-inspired, student-led

Students take on teaching roles at the Community School of the Arts

WISU marks 50 years of broadcasting