Office: Rawl 239
104 Rawl Building
Department of Psychology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Post-doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Medicine Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine (2012)
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University (2009)
MS, Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University (2007)
BA, Psychology and Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2003)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the result of a combination of modifiable health behaviors, environment, and genetic makeup and takes several decades to manifest itself before an individual begins to suffer impairment from this very common class of diseases. We know that various psychological factors are associated with CVD including depression, hostility, et cetera. My research focuses on efforts to understand the relations between behavioral/psychological factors and CVD so that I can help to design interventions to modify health behaviors and psychological factors in order to reduce the impact of, and risk for, CVD.
Currently I am most interested in understanding the complex and interrelated mechanisms of the connection between symptoms of depression and CVD. To do this, I am studying the psychophysiology of depression and related factors, and the relation between depression treatment and CVD risk. My goal is to use this research to inspire targeted behavioral interventions that reduce depressive symptoms and contribute to efforts to prevent/postpone cardiovascular disease.
One of the most important classes of health behaviors impacting people today are those that contribute to obesity and weight management. It is nearly impossible to study depression and CVD prevention without investigating the contribution of obesity to CVD. Because of this, much of my current work involves collaborating with other investigators across the country to investigate the environmental, behavioral, and psychological barriers (especially depression) to successful weight loss.
The Cardiovascular Psychophysiology Laboratory
We maintain a very active physical laboratory space that consists of my own graduate students, Dr. D. Erik Everhart's Cognitive Neuroscience laboratory, a rotating cast of undergraduate research assistants, and occasionally ECU Clinical Health Psychology graduate students from other labs. In the lab, we study the influence of behavioral and psychological factors on individuals' psychophysiological responses to stress. My graduate students and I also collaborate with researchers and treatment providers across ECU, most prominently the Vidant Hospital Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
In addition to Thesis and Dissertation projects, we maintain a lab group project that is investigating the influence of mood and health behaviors on overweight and obesity among college students. This is an ongoing data collection which we modify annually based on our results and new developments in the literature at large. We are also currently developing a psychophysiological study that will investigate the influence of depressive symptoms on psychophysiological responding. This project is expected to go live in the 2015-2016 academic year.
I am not accepting additional students into the lab as part of the Clinical Health Psychology doctoral program for the 2015-2016 academic year. I encourage interested students to investigate the other excellent opportunities offered as part of the ECU CHP program here.
Thesis and Dissertation Projects
Ansley Taylor Corson is a first year graduate student who earned her BA from Converse College in Psychology and Philosophy. Her thesis project involves investigating the relations between adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism, BIS/BAS, and heart rate variability.
Taylor Freeman is a 1st year student who earned his BA in Psychology and BS in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida in 2014. His thesis project involves investigating how depression and other psychosocial variables affect attendance and completion rates in a cardiovascular rehabilitation program.
I lead the Depression Specialty Service in the ECU psychology department's PASS clinic. More information on the PASS clinic can be found here. I specialize in Behavioral Activation and have experience training other clinicians in this treatment approach both regionally and nationally. If you're curious about Behavioral Activation, the treatment manual has been published and you can obtain it free of charge if you our your institution has a subscription. Additionally, you can see me discuss Behavioral Activation in the videos below under "media"
Current Grant Funding:
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) NHLBI/NIMH 5K23HL109620 (PI: Whited) Depression treatment and risk for cardiovascular disease. 2012-2017
NHLBI Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program Grant. 2011-2013, 2014-2015(Awardee) Depression, heart rate variability, and risk for cardiovascular disease.
I was interviewed for Health Discoveries with Sam Sears!
Also, click here to see the lab and clinic footage that we had to leave on the cutting room floor.
Be sure to follow Dr. Whited on twitter (@drmattwhited) for random health psychology tidbits!
for a list of publications.