How can scientists effectively measure mood and stress over time? What are the best ways to partner with communities with access to fewer resources? A team from the UT School of Nursing partnered with Del Valle Independent School District to help answer those questions over the course of an 8-week mindfulness program in 2019. The team used a mindfulness curriculum called “A Still Quiet Place” with 5th grade students in an underserved school. Teacher-led sessions combined with at-home practice helped children work through difficult emotions, increase positive communication, and show compassion toward themselves and others. While intervention efforts like this will not be included in the final Whole Communities–Whole Health cohort study, several elements of this project are helping lay the foundation for the broader work. Students filled out weekly surveys about their mood and stress levels, which helped the team better understand how to incorporate and validate self-assessments into the larger cohort study as they relate to other types of indicators like attendance, grades, and test scores. Another key priority of this project was building working relationships between the research team and local community schools. By being present in the schools and implementing practical interventions, our team is learning how to develop research plans that are responsive to the needs and experiences of the families we will work alongside during the cohort study.
Cara Young (School of Nursing)