Dept of Psychology Research Laboratories

Cardiac Psychology Lab

East Carolina Heart Institute

ECU Cardiac Psychology | Information for Healthcare Providers

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Information for Healthcare Providers

The Cardiac Research Lab at East Carolina University offers valuable information for providers working with patients with cardiac disease, especially those with ICDs. Significant restraints to recovery and well-being include anxiety (13-38%) and depression (24-33%) for many of those in the ICD population.

Also, adjustment difficulties increase the likelihood of having negative consequences of using ICD technology. Some of these risk factors include: being female, history of shock(s), and being younger than 50 years of age. Important outcomes include measures of Quality of Life (QOL), patient shock anxiety, and acceptance of the ICD device.


How We Can Help

Dr. Sears and his Cardiac Psychology team are available for consultation for healthcare providers working with ICD patients, as well as others who care for patients with cardiac disease (electrophysiologists, cardiologists, cardiac rehabilitation employees, psychologists, mental health professionals, etc.). Psychological care is a vital component of comprehensive and integrated care and optimizes patient benefit.

View a summary of services we offer at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.


Commonly Employed Interventions

ICD Specific Education
Patient-friendly information regarding cardiac function and dysfunction, cardiac devices and device-specific functions (i.e. pacing and shock), planning for shock, returning to life after implant and/or shock, occupational limitations, physical and sexual activity, driving, electromagnetic interference, device recall, and families and relationships.

Stress Management
Empirically supported relaxation and stress management techniques (e.g. diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, autogenic training), and sleep hygiene.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A type of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying cognitions, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors, with the aim of influencing emotions. Patients are taught to identify and challenge negative automatic thoughts and in turn, often experience a sense of increased control over their health, life, and current medical situation.


Frequently Utilized Measures of Acceptance

Florida Patient Acceptance Survey (FPAS)
assesses positive appraisal, body image concerns, device related distress, and ability to return to function,which are summed into a total acceptance score.

Florida Shock Anxiety Survey (FSAS)
higher scores reflect unique patient anxiety about the ability to cope with the impact of shock.