Case Western Reserve University nursing researcher weighs adding meditation and prayer to her trademarked ‘Resourcefulness Training’ toolbox

Spirituality could soon become a third pillar in a trademarked stress-reduction program developed by researchers at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

That’s because many of the research subjects who have been learning, using and tracking the effectiveness of the eight tools recommended by nurse-scientist Jaclene Zauszniewski’s “Resourcefulness Training” have reported that they’ve been doing something else to help cope with life’s pressures.

They’re praying and meditating.

“And they’re reporting that it works—especially for those who combine the spiritual component with the other two more established resourcefulness areas we have been teaching,” said Zauszniewski, who first began testing her specific intervention program in the late 1990s.

Jaclene Zauszniewski
Jaclene Zauszniewski

She wrote about adding spirituality to her resourcefulness program in the Western Journal of Nursing Research. Her latest research focuses on results from 138 women caregivers of elders with dementia. Co-authors on the paper were fellow Case Western Reserve nursing researchers Christopher Burant and Kayla Herbell.

The first two legs of the program are known as personal resourcefulness (self-help skills) and social resourcefulness (asking others for help). They are essentially a suite of skills that a person can use to combat stress, anxiety, depression, and any number of difficulties to their own benefit and to that of their families.

What sets these tools apart from the raft of self-help practices and therapy available to many of us is the rigorous testing over decades and among a number of groups under specific stresses.

Over the last 20 years, Zauszniewski and several collaborators at the nursing school have been studying, testing and refining the elements of the program.

Through a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research and National Institute on Aging, they’ve accumulated the data to support its effectiveness in providing coping skills to a variety of people.

Those groups ranged from adults caring for their elderly persons or persons with mental illness, to grandmothers raising their grandchildren, and parents caring for children requiring extraordinary, technological support for optimal health.

“We know it’s successful in addressing things like stress and depressive symptoms, but it is the subjects of our research who are bringing prayer into the program,” said Zauszniewski, the Kate Hanna Harvey Professor of Community Health Nursing at the nursing school. “They were using the tools of spirituality on their own.”