Healing the heart: a randomized pilot study of a spiritual retreat for depression in acute coronary syndrome patients

Journal Article

By: S. L.; Ingerman Warber, S.; Moura, V. L.; Wunder, J.; Northrop, A.; Gillespie, B. W.; Durda, K.; Katherine Smith; Rhodes, K. S.; Rubenfire, M.
Publication Name: Explore (NY)
Year: 2011

BACKGROUND: Depression is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in coronary heart disease. Numerous conventional and complementary therapies may address depression. Few involving spirituality have been tested. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a nondenominational spiritual retreat, Medicine for the Earth (MFTE), on depression and other measures of well-being six- to 18-months post acute coronary syndrome (ACS). DESIGN/SETTING: A randomized controlled pilot study of MFTE, Lifestyle Change Program (LCP), or usual cardiac care (control) was conducted in Southeastern Michigan. PARTICIPANTS: ACS patients were recruited via local and national advertising (n = 58 enrolled, 41 completed). INTERVENTIONS: The four-day MFTE intervention included guided imagery, meditation, drumming, journal writing, and nature-based activities. The four-day LCP included nutrition education, exercise, and stress management. Both retreat groups received follow-up phone coaching biweekly for three months. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Validated self-report scales of depression, spiritual well-being, perceived stress, and hope were collected at baseline, immediately post-retreat, and at three and six months. RESULTS: Depression was not significantly different among groups (P = .21). However, the MFTE group had the highest depression scores at baseline and had significantly lower scores at all postintervention time points (P
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