Research projects in the Mindful Breathing Laboratory at Mayo Clinic are investigating the use of various methods of behavior change and their effect on quality of life and rehospitalization in people with chronic diseases, such a lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Areas of research include physical activity, mindfulness, palliative care, breathing awareness and motivational interviewing.

Projects include:

  • Happiness survey. This project aims to determine if there is a correlation between happiness and the amount of physical activity and spiritual practice a person engages in. Because emotions have a large impact on health and well-being, finding predictors of happiness is beneficial for keeping the body and mind as strong as possible.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation before lung cancer resection (NIH, National Cancer Institute RO1). This project studies the effects of a simple program of pre-surgical rehabilitation that includes breathing awareness training, mindful exercises and inspiratory muscle training on surgical outcomes.
  • Physical activity coaching and technology to improve physical activity in COPD (NIH National Institute on Aging R44). This project studies whether motivational interviewing-based health coaching plus cell phone-based activity monitoring improves daily physical activity.
  • Multicomponent intervention to decrease COPD related hospitalizations (NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute RO1). This project studies rehospitalization rates, quality of life and physical activity using motivational interviewing-based health coaching plus pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD patients following discharge after an exacerbation-related hospitalization.
  • Identifying therapeutic targets to deal with stress through mindfulness. This project aims to identify the factors associated with improved stress management in a large cohort of Mayo Clinic employees in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.
  • Mindfulness-based interventions for patients with dyspnea and their caregivers. This series of interventions evaluates the effect of mindful meditative practices on well-being, autonomic function, stress and other patient-reported outcomes.
  • Self-efficacy for walking performance and physical activity in patients with chronic lung disease. This projects aims to determine the importance of self-efficacy on a key behavior (daily physical activity) and key functional measures (gait speed and exercise capacity) in severe lung disease to identify self-efficacy as a potential behavioral target in rehabilitation.
  • Gait speed analysis. Gait requires input from the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves, as well as the muscles and joints. Because all of these systems are required to coordinate gait, gait speed is an indicator of the health of many physiological systems. Gait speed is now recognized as a crucial measure of wellness and survival in older adults. This project aims to identify the proper technique for measuring gait speed in people with chronic lung disease and the relationship of gait speed to physical activity, attention, cognition, quality of life and mindfulness.
  • Healthy Living Program. This program is an intensive hands-on rehabilitation program focused on living better with chronic lung disease. The key concept taught in the Healthy Living Program is that patients can play an active role in their care through self-awareness and self-management. The latter may represent an important step in achieving the best health outcome — to feel and function better.