Psychology Research Team Awarded NIH Grant to Study Impact of Mindfulness in Rural Law Officers
A team of Pacific University researchers led by psychology Professor Michael Christopher and Associate Professor Sarah Bowen has been awarded follow-on funding by the National Institutes of Health for research and training of law enforcement officials in mindfulness practices. The project is intended to affect and improve outcomes when first responders arrive in volatile situations.
The new round of funding is for $266,790 and will specifically focus on the research team’s work with rural law enforcement officers. The grant is formally known as “Feasibility and acceptability of mindfulness-based resilience training for problematic alcohol use, mental health, and aggression in rural law enforcement officers.”
“Rural law enforcement officers are exposed to unique and significant stressors, yet have access to fewer resources, compared to urban counterparts, to mitigate harmful effects of stress,” according to the grant application. “This elevates risk for maladaptive coping strategies such as problematic alcohol use, mental health consequences, and aggression and excessive use of force.”
The researchers will assess the practicability of mindfulness-based resilience training, which promotes profound awareness in stressful situations, along with elements focused on misuse of alcohol, among rural law enforcement officers. The project is preliminary to what the researchers expect to be a massive, multistate trial involving many first responders in multiple agencies, and would run five or so years.
Their research team on this project includes co-investigator and retired police officer Richard Goerling and Associate Professor Matthew Hunsinger, along with collaborator Dr. Daniel Grupe from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Christopher is director of Pacific’s Mindful Health and Resilience Lab.
(Photos: Sarah Bowen, Michael Christopher)