Dept of Psychology Research Laboratories

Cardiac Psychology Lab

East Carolina Heart Institute

ECU Cardiac Psychology | Research Team

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Research Team

History of the Cardiac Psychology Lab at ECU

The Cardiac Psychology Lab at ECU was established by Dr. Sears and his post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Melissa Matchett. He currently mentors five doctoral students at various levels in the program. The first graduate of the ECU program, Garrett Hazelton, PhD, graduated in August 2011. Dr. Hazelton completed his psychology internship at Duke University and recently accepted a position in the Department of Psychiatry at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Dr. Kari Kirian, the second graduate of the doctoral program, completed her internship at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, and returned to ECU as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine. Together with his work at the University of Florida, Dr. Sears has mentored 12 PhD dissertations, and his graduates are employed in both academia and industry focused on health and cardiac psychology. In the Spring 2012, Dr. Sears was honored as Research Mentor of the Year by the graduate students in the Department of Psychology at East Carolina University.

 

Cardiac Psychology Research Team
Garrett Hazelton, Ph.D., Samuel F. Sears, Ph.D., Melissa Matchett, Psy.D., & Kari Kirian, Ph.D.

 

Samuel F. Sears, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor at East Carolina University (Tenured)
Department of Psychology
Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Program Director of Health Psychology Ph.D. Program

Dr. Sears is an internationally recognized expert in the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients. He is also a well-published researcher who travels around the world giving talks to patients and members of the medical community. Dr. Sears focuses his research on the psychological aspects of cardiovascular disease and recovery from cardiac arrest. He is specifically interested in the psychological care and quality of life (QOL) outcomes for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The ICD is the primary treatment for patients who survive, or are at risk for, cardiac arrest. Approximately 24 to 38 percent of ICD patients experience psychological distress following implantation. Moreover, approximately 31 to 41 percent of spouses develop significant anxiety or depression. Thus, research in this area is notable because it addresses the psychological impact of this life-saving technology by examining its effects on patients and families.

Visit Dr. Sears' website

View Dr. Sears' ICD presentation at Brigham and Women's Hospital

 

Junior Colleagues

For more information regarding student research projects, visit our dissertation research studies page.

Katherine Cutitta, M.A.

Kate CutittaKate graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 with a B.S. in Psychology. She has experience working in the Neurocognitive Assessment Lab as well as the Ryan White HIV Primary Care and Infectious Disease Clinic at The University of Virginia. Katherine Cutitta is a third year doctoral student in the Cardiac Psychology lab. She earned her Master's degree in 2012 after defending a thesis entitled "SHOxABILITY: Ability and Avoidance of Daily Activity Behaviors in ICD Patients". Katherine's research interests include incorporating new technology in the research and care of cardiac patients and pediatric cardiology care.

Publications
Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Smith, J., Hazelton, G., Shea, J., Fischer, A., Sears, S. (under review). Patient reported health outcomes and shock anxiety in a web-based national ICD sample. American Heart Journal.

Sears, S., Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Cahill, J., & Shea, J., (accepted for publication). Living confidently with CHF. Circulation.

Ford, J., Finch, J., Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Shea, J., Fischer, A., Hazelton, G. And Sears, S. (2012). The Florida Shock Anxiety Scale (FSAS) for Patients with Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators: Testing Factor Structure, Reliability, and Validity of a Previously Established Measure. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.2012.03455.xH.

Hauf, J.D., Cutitta, K.E., Woodrow, L.K., Kirian, K., & Sears, S.F. (2011). Caring for the heart and mind in ICD patients. Cardiac Electrophysiology Clinics.

Guerrero, D.A., Broshek, D., Freeman, J., Cutitta, K. (2010). Psychological Care of Student Athletes in a University Environment. Praeger Handbook of Sports Medicine and Athlete Health.

Winstead-Derlega, C., Rafaly, M., Delgado, S., Freeman, J., Cutitta, K., Miles, T., Ingersoll, K., and Dillingham, D. (2012). Telemedicine and e-Health, 18(6): 464-469. doi:10.1089/tmj.2011.0236.

 

Leslie Derian, B.A.

Leslie DerianLeslie received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2011. She began her doctoral studies at East Carolina University in the fall of 2012. Leslie’s research interests include medical decision making and educational/psychosocial needs of patients with chronic illness (acute and long-term).

 

 

Jessica Ford, M.A.

Jessica FordJessica Ford is a fifth year graduate student in the doctoral program. She lives in New Bern, NC with her husband and dog, Wookie. She has worked in the cardiac psychology lab with Dr. Sears for three years and has a special focus on medical trauma associated with living with a defibrillator, especially posttraumatic stress disorder in ICD patients. She is currently applying for internship in Clinical Psychology and will be working for the Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine following her graduation.

Publications
Sears, S., Ford, J., & Cahill, J. (In Press). Poor health status and distress in cardiac patients: The role of device therapy versus underlying heart disease. Europace.

Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Smith, J., Hazelton, G., Shea, J., Fischer, A., Sears, S. (under review). Patient reported health outcomes and shock anxiety in a web-based national ICD sample.

Sears, S., Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Cahill, J., & Shea, J., (accepted for publication). Living confidently with CHF. Circulation. 

Ford, J., Sears, S., Shea, J., Cahill, J. (In Press). Coping with trauma and stressful events as a patient with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator: Patient page. Circulation.

Horn, M., Ford, J., Fairbrother, D., & Sears, S. F. (In Press). Cardiovascular complaints in adolescence: Clinical considerations. In W. O’Donohue, L. Benuto, & L. Tolle (eds.), Adolescent Health Psychology. New York, NY: Springer.

Ford, J., Sears, S. (In Press). Interactive case challenge: Managing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms secondary to implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy. Cardiac Rhythm Management.

Dimsdale, C., Dimsdale, A., Ford, J., Shea, J. B., Sears, S. F. (2012). My child needs or has an ICD: What should I do? Circulation, 126, e244 - e247.

Ford, J., Finch, J., Woodrow, L. K., Cutitta, K., Sears, S. F. (2012). The Florida Shock Anxiety Scale (FSAS) for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: Reliability, validity, and factor structure of a previously established measure. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 35, 1146 – 1153.

Ford, J., Cutitta, K. E., Woodrow, L. K., Kirian, K., & Sears, S. F. (2011). Caring for the heart and mind in ICD patients. Cardiac Electrophysiology Clinics, 3, 451 - 62.

Sears, S. F., Hauf, J. D., Kirian, K., Hazelton, G., Conti, J. B. (2011). Posttraumatic stress and the implantable cardioverter defibrillator patient: What the electrophysiologist needs to know. Circulation, 4, 242 – 50.

Davis, C. E., Hauf, J. D., Wu, D. Q., Everhart, D. E. (2010). Brain function with complex decision making using electroencephalography. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 79, 175 – 83.

 

Ashley Rhodes, B.A.

Ashley RhodesAshley graduated from Truman State University in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology. She began her doctoral studies at East Carolina University that same fall. Ashley's research interests include adaptation to chronic illness and quality of life measures across the lifespan.

 

 

L. Kevin Woodrow, M.A.

Kevin WoodrowKevin began his doctoral studies in 2010 after completing a successful career in the US Army. His research interests include developing better psychosocial interventions for specific types of cardiac disease. Kevin is married with three children (Kevin, Jake, and Lawson) and in his spare time enjoys watching their many sports and musical activities.

Publications
Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Smith, J., Hazelton, G., Shea, J., Fischer, A., & Sears, S. (under review). Patient reported health outcomes and shock anxiety in a web-based national ICD sample.

Sears, S., Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Ford, J., Cahill, J., & Shea, J., (accepted for publication). Living confidently with CHF. Circulation.

Ford, J., Finch, J., Woodrow, L., Cutitta, K., Shea, J., Fischer, A., Hazelton, G., & Sears, S. F. (2012). The Florida shock anxiety scale (FSAS) for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: Testing factor structure, reliability, and validity of a previously established measure. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology. 35(9), 1146-1153.

Ford, J., Cutitta, K. E., Woodrow, L. K., Kirian, K., & Sears, S. F. (2011). Caring for the heart and mind in ICD patients. Cardiac Electrophysiology Clinics, 3, 451 - 62.

 

Cardiac Psychology Lab, 143 Rawl Annex, East Carolina University
East Fifth Street, Greenville, NC 27858-4353 USA
Phone 252.328.5826 | Fax 252-328-6283
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