See Dr. Sears' vita
Dr. Sears is currently engaged
in research projects at East Carolina University and at other prominent
research institutions around the US and world including:
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Psychology Meets Biotechnology to Understand Patient Activity
Dr. Sam Sears has been a clinical health
psychologist for 22 years but only recently has his research been able to cover
the full spectrum of his interests in cardiac patients. Dr. Sears has been a prominent researcher in
psychology and cardiac arrhythmias for many years. The majority of Dr. Sears’s work has focused
on understanding the psychological and emotional aspects of ICD patients. However, his recent work examining the role
of the accelerometer inside the ICD has allowed for the behavioral side of the
patient experience to emerge.
Dr. Sears has collaborated with
major medical device companies to examine accelerometer data as way of sampling
patient behavior – 24 hours a day. Dr.
Sears’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 has 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. Dr. Sears has followed
this up with two pending publications that integrate the role of anxiety in
activity change, as well as a focus on pediatric activity levels. This East Carolina University research
represents the full attainment of the value of psychology to address both the
mind and behavior to improve health.
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,
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.
Dr. Sears on National TV:
ECU Psychology Professor, Dr. Sam Sears,
appears in the just released PBS show, Second
Opinion, available online from PBS (November2016). Dr. Sears provides psychological insights
into the condition, Stress Cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo. Dr. Sears has appeared on 7 seasons on the
Dr. Sears on National Editorial Boards in Psychology and Cardiology
Sears, Ph.D., East Carolina University Professor in the Departments of
Psychology and Cardiovascular Sciences at East Carolina University was
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 position highlight
the unique impact of health psychologists in psychology and medicine research.
Dr. Sears remains highly productive in his own research with over 150 articles
in the medicine and psychology research literatures.
Sears’s Research in Key Medicine Journals
of the American College of Cardiology: Electrophysiology: Sept 2016: Dr. Sam
Sears’s collaborative work using accelerometer data gleaned from ICD
patients devices indicated that the onset of atrial fibrillation resulted in an
avg. reduction of activity of 8%, 11%, 14%, and 17% each week after its
onset. This is the first quantitative
assessment of the effects of atrial fibrillation on activity.
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.
Student Research Collaboration Success
of Genetic Counseling: 2016
ECU Health Psychology Doctoral students, Ashley Rhodes and Lindsey Rosman,
led a team of international experts in genetic counseling to discuss the
psychological effects of positive genetic screens for cardiovascular
problems. Specifically, the reduction
and focus on uncertainty were emphasized.
The role of future health psychologists was explored as well. Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Rosman work
collaboratively in the ECU Cardiac Psychology lab with ECU Professor, Dr.
Rhodes, A., Rosman, L.,
Cahill, J., Ingles, J., Murray, B., Tichnell,
C., James, C.A., & Sears, S.F. (2016). Minding
the genes: A multidisciplinary approach towards genetic assessment of cardiovascular
disease. Journal of Genetic Counseling.
of Traumatic Stress
Dr. Jessica Ford, ECU Assistant Professor in Psychology and Dr. Sears
examined the effects of cognitive-behavioral
treatment in implantable cardioverter defibrillator patients with high
levels of Post Traumatic Stress in a recent article. Collaborating with Dr. Jane Irvine, a
Canadian psychologist, ECU doctoral student Lindsey Rosman, and ECU Psychology
Professor Dr. Karl Wuensch, the research team demonstrated that PTSD symptoms
were significantly reduced with 8 sessions of telephone based treatment vs.
usual care. This study was a secondary
analysis of a large study with Canadian ICD patients.
J., Rosman, L., Wuensch, K., Irvine, J., & Sears, S. (2016). Cognitive behavioral treatment of posttraumatic
stress in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: Results from a
randomized controlled trial. Journal of
Traumatic Stress, 29, 388-392.