Laura Redwine , Ph.D. 1 , Brook L. Henry , Ph.D. 1 , Meredith A. Pung , Ph.D. 2 , Kathleen Wilson , M.S. 2 , Kelly Chinh , B.S. 1 , Brian Knight , B.S. 3 , Shamini Jain , Ph.D. 1 , Thomas Rutledge , Ph.D. 1 , Barry Greenberg , M.D. 3 , Alan Maisel , M.D. 3 , Paul J Mills , Ph.D. 2
01 July 2017
Stage B, asymptomatic heart failure (HF) presents a therapeutic window for attenuating disease progression and development of HF symptoms, and improving quality of life. Gratitude, the practice of appreciating positive life features, is highly related to quality of life, leading to development of promising clinical interventions. However, few gratitude studies have investigated objective measures of physical health; most relied on self-report measures. We conducted a pilot study in Stage B HF patients to examine whether gratitude journaling improved biomarkers related to HF prognosis.
Patients (N = 70; mean age = 66.2 years, SD = 7.6) were randomized to an 8-week gratitude journaling intervention or treatment as usual (TAU). Baseline (T1) assessments included 6-item Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6), resting heart rate variability (HRV), and an inflammatory biomarker index. At T2 (mid-intervention) GQ6 was measured. At T3 (post-intervention), T1 measures were repeated but also included a gratitude journaling task.
The gratitude intervention was associated with improved trait gratitude scores (F = 6.0, p = .017, η 2 = .10), reduced inflammatory biomarker index score over time (F = 9.7, p = .004, η 2 = .21) and increased parasympathetic HRV responses during the gratitude journaling task (F = 4.2, p = .036, η 2 = .15), compared with TAU. However, there were no resting pre- to post-intervention group differences in HRV (p's > .10).