Dept of Psychology Research Laboratories

Cardiac Psychology Lab

East Carolina Heart Institute

ECU Cardiac Psychology | Dissertation Research Studies

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Dissertation Research Studies

Jessica Ford, MA

My dissertation is entitled, Understanding Trauma Reactions in Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Patients and Piloting a Brief Web-Based Trauma Intervention Protocol Study (ICD-TIPS). This study will evaluate the helpfulness of providing internet materials to patients with ICDs and distressing or disabling symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The primary aim is to develop and evaluate the effect of a set of evidence-based internet tools which can be utilized by patients with ICDs who have had stressful or traumatic experiences associated with their device on indices of generic and device-specific quality of life and mental health. Analyses will be performed to evaluate PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression, adherence to medication, quality of life, shock anxiety, and device acceptance before and after receiving the internet intervention. Additionally qualitative feedback data will be utilized to enhance and improve the existing resources.


Kate Cutitta, MA

My thesis, entitled SHOxABILITY: Ability and Avoidance of Daily Activity Behaviors in ICD Patients, is a study examining reported activity and avoidance of daily activities from a large national sample of ICD patients. Analyses were performed, demonstrating that many patients who reported being able to participate in activities, also reported avoiding those activities (e.g. strenuous athletics, 76.1%). ICD patients also reported being able to engage in sexual activity (64.6%), with a high percentage of those patients choosing to avoid sexual activity (51%). The major finding from this study is that ICD patients exhibit behavioral limitations, due to both perceived inability and preference to avoid highly exertive activities. Further ICD patient avoidance and activity level research may lead to improved clinical outcomes.


Kevin Woodrow, MA

My thesis, entitled, Shock 2010: Analysis of Global Health Indices and Quality Of Life in a Web Based National ICD Sample, examined the results of a survey that queried ICD patients on global health and quality of life indices. The primary aim was to provide descriptive data on a large national sample of ICD patients on global measures of general health, quality of life (QOL), emotional health, family relationships, sense of security, disruptiveness of ICD shock, and shock anxiety. Analyses were also performed to assess the between-group differences for shock, sex and age. Key findings are that the great majority of ICD patients report good overall QOL. The majority of patients also report that their ICD has contributed positively to their overall QOL. There was also support for the view that shocks are strongly associated with ICD-specific shock anxiety levels with greater shocks associated with significantly higher levels of anxiety, F (3, 439) = 43.25, p < .0005. Information from this analysis may be used to provide clear, understandable, and relevant information to current and prospective ICD patients, as well as to clinicians and caregivers concerning the patient experience of living with an ICD.