Department of Psychology
Faculty Page




 
Dr. Samuel Sears
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Dr. Sears at the East Carolina Heart Institute
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Dr. Sears provided a keynote lecture at the First Nordic Symposium on Psychological Aspects of ICD Treatment in Lund, Sweden on December 4, 2009. The conference was co-chaired by Dr. Carl Johan Hoijer (pictured).
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Dr. Sears gives frequent speeches to ICD patient support groups, as seen here in Hickory, NC in December, 2009.
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Dr. Sears with Dr. Kubo at the Japanese Society of Psychosomatic Cardiology in Tokyo, Japan in November, 2007
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ECU Cardiac Psychology website:
The Cardiac Psychology Research Lab at East Carolina University has a web-site for patients, healthcare providers, researchers, and students who are interested in the care of ICD patients. The Cardiac Psychology lab website can be accessed by clicking here.

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

Samuel F. Sears, Ph.D.
Professor, East Carolina University
Departments of Psychology and Cardiovascular Sciences
Director of Health Psychology

  • Nationally recognized expert in the psychological care and quality of life outcomes of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients
  • Provides clinical services to cardiac and ICD patients in a fully integrated cardiac clinic at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU
  • Among the most published authors in the world on ICD patient outcomes. Has published over 150 articles in the medicine literature on the psychological aspects of cardiology
  • Regularly appears in PBS TV series, Second Opinion, on topics related to cardiology, such as Long QT Syndrome, Artificial Hearts, and Stress Cardiomyopathy
  • Founded "ICD Coach" to produce mobile phone apps for cardiac and ICD patients and families
  • Dr. Sears was honored by the University of North Carolina system as the O. Max Gardner Award winner for 2013.This award is given to the faculty member deemed to have made "the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race" and is considered the highest honor for a faculty member in the state. 


CONTACT INFORMATION
East Carolina University
Department of Psychology
104 Rawl Bldg
Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4353
Phone: 252.328.6118
Clinical referrals: 252.744.4400
Fax: 252.328.6283
Email: SearsS@ecu.edu
 
 
EDUCATION AND ACADEMIC BACKGROUND

Ph.D.              University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (1995)
                          Major: Clinical and Health Psychology
                          Minor: Medical Psychology
 
Residency        University of Mississippi 
                          Medical Center/Veterans Affairs (1994-95)
                          Medical Center Consortium, Jackson, MS
 
M.S.                University of Florida, Gainesville, FL  (1992)
                          Major: Clinical and Health Psychology
 
B.S.                University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (1990)
                          Major: Psychology

 

CURRENT RESEARCH


Dr. Sears is currently engaged in research projects at East Carolina University and at other prominent research institutions around the US and world including:

  • Patient Acceptance of Remote Monitoring of ICD Followup
  • Activity Assessment via ICD Accelerometers
  • The Psychological Impact of Atrial Fibrillation
  • Patient Strategies related to Wearable Cardioverter Defibrillators
  • Smartphone Use for ICD Patients
  • Measurement and Treatment of ICD Patient Shock Anxiety

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Accelerometer Research is Accelerating: Cardiac Psychology Meets Biotechnology to Understand Patient Activity

Dr. Sears has collaborated with major medical device companies to examine accelerometer data as a way of sampling patient behavior - 24 hours a day. Dr. Sear's work has established the base rates of ICD patient activity levels. Specifically, these data indicate the average ICD patient is "moving" just over 3 hours a day. His work also recently demonstrated that ICD patients who experience ICD shocks or atrial fibrillation also show characteristic changes in behavior, as these adverse experiences change patient activity levels. 

In 2018, Dr. Sears has followed this up with recent publications that integrate the role of anxiety in activity change, as well as a focus on pediatric activity levels. Specifically, this work has demonstrated in an international sample of ICD patients that it takes approximately 90 days for activity levels to return to normal following an ICD shock, and that anxiety and quality of life do not return to baseline levels for 180 days. Implications for patient care call for increased psychosocial care post ICD shock for all ICD patients.

ACCELEROMETER RELATED PUBLICATIONS BY DR. SEARS

1)Sears, S.F. Rosman, L., Sasaki, S., Kondo, Y., Sterns, L.D., Schloss, E.J., Kurita, T., Meijer, A., Raijmakers, J., Gerriste, B., & Auricchio, A. (2018). Defibrillator shocks and their impact on objective and subjective patient outcomes: Results from the PainFree SST clinical trial, Heart Rhythm, In press.

2) de la Uz, C., Burch, A.E., Gunderson, B., Koehler, J., & Sears, S.F. (2017). How active are young cardiac device patients? Objective assessment of activity in children with cardiac devices. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 40, 1286-1290.

3) Rosman L, Lampert R, Sears SF, Burg MM. Measuring Physical Activity in Patients with Implanted Cardiac Devices: A Systematic Review. (2018). Journal of the American Heart Association. In Press.

4) Dornelas, E. A., & Sears, S. F. (2018). Living with heart despite recurrent challenges: Psychological care for adults with advanced cardiac disease. American Psychologist, 73, 1007-1018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000318

5) Sears, S.F., Whited, A., Koehler, J, & Gunderson, B. (2015). Examination of the differential impacts of ATP vs. Shock on patient activity in the EMPIRIC Study, Europace, 17, 417-423.

6) Chelu, M.G., Gunderson, B.D., Koehler, J. Ziegler, P.D., Sears, S.F. (2016). Patient activity decreases and mortality increases after the onset of persistent atrial fibrillation in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiac Electrophysiology, 2, 518-523.

Doctoral Student Success: Doctoral Student Awarded Research Grant

Caley Kropp, doctoral student in Cardiac Psychology Lab with Dr. Sears was recently awarded a $20, 000 grant for screening for atrial fibrillation in rural pharmacies from the Heart Rhythm Society. The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients. Also awarded AFib Screening Initiative grants are the Mayo Clinic Rochester; the Ohio State University Ross Heart Hospital; University of Massachusetts Medical School; the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Buffalo; Wellness Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center; North Ohio Heart Center; and Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare, Illinois.

http://www.ecu.edu/news/AFib-Screening.cfm

 

Research Leadership: Editorships in Cardiology and Psychology

Dr. Sears was recently appointed as a Consulting Editor for Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology. He was also appointed to a second term as a consulting Editor for the journal, Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Sears also serves as a Section Editor for the journal, Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, published by Wiley. Together, these editorial positions highlight the academic leadership position for a psychologist in both cardiology and psychology.

 

National Media: PBS “Second Opinion”

Dr. Sears has been a regular guest on the Nationally Syndicated PBS show, Second Opinion, available online from PBS. Dr. Sears provides psychological insights into cardiac conditions such as Stress Cardiomyopathy, Atrial Fibrillation or Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Dr. Sears has appeared on 8 seasons on the show. 

https://www.secondopinion-tv.org/panelist/samuel-f-sears-phd

The link for the 2017-18 show is here: 

https://www.secondopinion-tv.org/episode/atrial-fibrillation

 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS BY DR. SEARS 2017-2019

2019

1. Sears, S.F., & Ford, J.H. (2019). Seeking innovation in the delivery of psychosocial care for ICD patients. European Heart Journal, In press.

2. Rosman L, Salmoirago-Blotcher E, Cahill J, Sears SF. (2019). Psychosocial Adjustment and Quality of Life in Women with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 34, 20-28.

3. Ford, J., Littleton, H., Lutes, L., Wuensch, K. L., Benton, C., Cahill, J. M., Hudson, C., Nekkanti, R., Gehi, A., & Sears, S. F. (In Press). Evaluation of an internet-based Intervention for ICD patients with elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology.

4. Burch, A. E., Scherr, D., Rieth, A., Griffin, J., Bianco, N. R., Odeneg, T., & Sears, S. F. (2019). Wearable cardioverter defibrillator-guided 6-minute walk test performed at home is accurate and reliable: Results of the TRENDS study. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehab & Prevention, In press.

5. Bazemore, T., Bolger, L., Sears, SF, Sadaf, M, & Gehi, A. (2019). Gender differences in symptoms and functional limitation among patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing catheter ablation. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology. 42, 224-229.

6. Mirro, M. J., Keltner, E. E., Roebuck, A. E. & Sears, S. F. (2019). Playing it close to the vest and the clinical guidelines: Clinical guideline compliance in HFrEF patients: Role of WCD – Response to the Letter to Editor. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. In press.

2018

7. Sears, S.F. Rosman, L., Sasaki, S., Kondo, Y., Sterns, L.D., Schloss, E.J., Kurita, T., Meijer, A., Raijmakers, J., Gerriste, B., & Auricchio, A. (2018). Defibrillator shocks and their impact on objective and subjective patient outcomes: Results from the PainFree SST clinical trial, Heart Rhythm, 15, 734-740.

8. Dornelas, E. A., & Sears, S. F. (2018). Living with heart despite recurrent challenges: Psychological care for adults with advanced cardiac disease. American Psychologist, 73, 1007-1018. doi:10.1037/amp0000318

9. Curtis, A. F., Roth, A., Sears, S. F., Conti, J.B., Berry, R. B., Dzierzewski, J. M., Rathinakumar, H., & McCrae, C. S. (in press). Cognitive performance in patients with Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs): Associations with objective sleep duration, age and anxiety. Journal of Sleep Research.

10. Miyazawa K, Kondo Y, Ueda M, Kajiyama T, Nakano, M, Inagaki, M, Schwab, JO, Sears, SF, & Kobayashi, Y. (2018). Prospective survey of implantable defibrillator shock anxiety in Japanese patients: Results from the DEF‐Chiba study. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol, 1–7. doi:10.1111/pace.13442

11. Mirro, M. J., Keltner, E. E., Roebuck, A. E. & Sears, S. F. (2018), Playing it close to the vest and the clinical guidelines: Clinical guideline compliance in HFrEF patients: Role of WCD. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. doi:10.1111/pace.13472

12. Rosman L, Lampert R, Sears SF, Burg MM. Measuring Physical Activity in Patients with Implanted Cardiac Devices: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Heart Association. In Press.

13. Maron, B. J., Casey, S. A., Olivotto, I., Sherrid, M. V, Semsarian, C., Autore, C, Ahmed, A., Boriani, G., Francia, P., Winters, S.L., Guidici, M., Koulova, A., Garberich, R., Rowin, E.J., Sears, S.F., Maron, M.L., Spirito, P. (2018). Clinical Course and Quality of Life in High-Risk Patients With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators. Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, 11. Retrieved from http://circep.ahajournals.org/conten t/11/4/e005820.abstract

14. Gehi A, Deyo Z, Mendys P, Hatfield L, Laux J, Walker J, Chen S, O’Byran J, Garner K, Sears S, Akiyama J, Stearns S, Biese K. (2018). Novel Care Pathways for patients presenting to the emergency department with atrial fibrillation. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. In press.

15. Kropp, C., Ellis, J., Nekkanti, R., Sears, S. (2018). Is smartphone ECG monitoring smart for ICD patients? JMIR Cardio. doi:10.2196/cardio.8710

2017

16. Gopinathannair, R., Lerew, D.R., Cross, N.J., Sears, S.F., Brown, S., & Olshansky, B. (2017). Longitudinal changes in quality of life following ICD implant and the impact of age, gender, and ICD shocks: Observations from the INTRINSIC RV Trial. Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology.

17. Sears, S.F. (2017). New initiative: Patient and clinical education (PACE) pages. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, In press.

18. Rhodes, A., Murray, B., Tichnell, C., James, C.A., Calkins, H., & Sears, S.F. (2017). Quality of life metrics in Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/Cardiomyopathy patients: The impact of age, shock and sex. International Journal of Cardiology, In press.

19. de la Uz CM, Burch AE, Gunderson, B, Koehler J, Sears SF. How active are young cardiac device patients? Objective assessment of activity in children with cardiac devices. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2017;40:1286–1290. https://doi.org/10.1111/pace.13197

20. Whited, M., Ellis, J.M., Freeman, J.T., Corson, A.T., Greenway, S., Busch, A.M., Whited, A.L., & Sears, S.F. (2017). An exploration of the impact of the “Open Gym” scheduling model of cardiovascular rehabilitation on completion, attendance, and health outcomes. Journal of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention. In press.

21. Burch, A.E., Spar, D.S., & Sears, S.F. (2017). Wearable cardioverter defibrillators in schools: A guide for parents and educators. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, In press.

22. Rosman L, Salmoirago-Blotcher E, Wuensch KL, Cahill J, Sears SF. (In press). Contraception and reproductive counseling in women with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Contraception. 2017.

23. Rosman L, Salmoirago-Blotcher E, Cahill J, Wuensch KL, Sears SF. (2017). Depression and health behaviors in women with peripartum cardiomyopathy. Heart and Lung. 46, 363-367.

24. Yardımcı, T., Mert, H., & Sears, S.F. (2017). Reliability and validity of the Turkish version of the Florida Shock Anxiety Scale. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine.

25. Freeman, L.K., Richards, K, Conti, J.B., & Sears, S.F. (2017). Patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators on social media report more shock anxiety than clinic patients: Results from an online survey. JMIR Cardio. 1(2), e6. doi:10.2196/cardio.8152

Dr. Sam Sears Videos

* Sudden Cardiac Arrest PBS shows: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNS2wbM4d5A

* Making a Cardiac Comeback 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmDP1Z78RDI

* the Medical Trapeze: Ted style talk: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tefpOg01mfs

* PBS: Max Gardner Award 

http://video.unctv.org/video/2364996979/

* ECU work with students 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_YYyC1ztys

* Local public tv show 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4gvOObNiIM