Pilot Studies

In 2015 and 2016 we sent out a call for pilot study proposals related to improving stress measurement, and development new stress measures. We funded 13 projects, all of which are described below. When the projects are complete, we will update the ‘Read More’ buttons with results from these exciting projects. Although we do not currently have an open call for more projects, we are always excited to hear your ideas for new stress measurements. If you have an idea you’d like us to consider for funding, please email a brief description to Wendy.Mendes@ucsf.edu and cc Alexandra.Crosswell@ucsf.edu

To see further details in the official 2016 Call for Pilot Study Proposals click PDF iconhere

PDF iconpilot_project_call_for_proposals_2016.pdf

Further funding opportunities will be announced in Spring 2017

Pilot Studies 2016

The Stress of Food Security – A Need for a New Measure

Dr. Cindy Leung was funded to develop and validate a scale that assesses the psychological stress of food insecurity. Food insecurity is a condition of inadequate household food availability due to a lack of money or other resources.

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Development of a Standard Protocol for the Assessment of Stress-Related Vocal Responding

Drs. Brian Baucom and Paula Williams were funded to examine the association between acoustic characteristics of speech and stress measures in order to develop a standard voice analysis protocol for stress measurement.

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Development of an Implicit Association Test to Measure Chronic Stress

Drs. Wendy Berry Mendes & Chris Crew at UCSF were funded to support their development of an implicit association test (IAT) to capture unconscious levels of chronic stress.

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Do psychosocial and behavioral factors shorten the 'long arm of childhood': A mediation and moderation analysis

Dr. Eli Puterman and his team were funded to explore the additive and interactive effects of sociodemographics (age, sex, race, income, education), health behaviors (smoking, exercise, BMI, alcohol) and psychosocial factors (early life stressors, discrimination, job related stress, social isolation, adulthood stressful events, psychological resources, familial relationships and financial strain ) on a series of health outcomes in the Health and Retirement Study, a 24-year population based study of nearly 30,000 US residents.

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Self-reported measures of stress and resting state connectivity in intrinsic networks

Drs. Peter Gianaros and Tor Wager were funded to conduct secondary data analyses testing the associations between self-reported measures of stress and resting state connectivity in intrinsic networks of the brain employing machine learning.

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Stress Buffers in Midlife in the US Longitudinal Study

Dr. Joshua Wiley was funded to (a) systematically examine the effects on health of cumulative and individual measures of stress in the MIDUS data; (2) factor analyze the psychological and social resources measures available in MIDUS to develop a short form, composite measure of psychosocial resources; (3) use the key stress measures from objective #1 to test whether the newly developed composite measure from objective #2 buffer the effects of stress on health.

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Pilot Studies 2017

Development of a Standard Protocol for the Assessment of Stress-Related Vocal Responding

Drs. Brian Baucom and Paula Williams were funded to examine the association between acoustic characteristics of speech and stress measures in order to develop a standard voice analysis protocol for stress measurement.


The EASE (Effortless Assessment of Stressful Environments) Study: Assessing stress with mobile passive sensing data

Dr. Michelle Bryne was funded to conduct a study exploring the use of passive mobile phone sensing data (including text input, voice analysis, and facial expression analysis) in relation to short-term and long-term (cumulative life) stress.


Developing an Automated Scoring System for the LEAP

Drs. Tom Kamarck and Barbara Anderson were funded to complete the programming that will permit automated scoring for the Life Events Assessment Profile (LEAP). LEAP is a computer-assisted interview designed to quantify degree of recent exposure to adverse life circumstances. With automated scoring, the LEAP will output a full set of life event exposure indices immediately after each interview is completed.


Stress Activation of Neurocircuits, Hippocampal Metabolites, and Cognitive Function: A Combined fMRI, MRS and HPA-Axis Function Study

Dr. Juliet Kroll was funded to conduct a study using fMRI and MR spectroscopy (MRS) to identify how an individual’s neural circuits respond acutely to a stressful stimulus and capture the concentration of CNS metabolites as potential biomarkers of chronic exposure to stress. This allows studying mechanisms through which these stress factors impact cognitive function, neuronal integrity, acute disease exacerbation (using asthma as a paradigm), and further progression of chronic disease.


Cumulative stress across the lifespan as a mechanism for SES-related health disparities

Dr. Stacey Scott and colleagues were funded we propose to validate a novel measure of childhood and lifetime stress exposure (Stress and Adversity Inventory [STRAIN]) against a set of traditional stress measures to empirically justify the use of high-resolution stress measurement in health disparity research. Participants will be recruited from the Effects of Stress on Cognitive Aging, Physiology, and Emotion (ESCAPE) study, which is a longitudinal study of 320 adults that are economically and racially diverse.


Cardiovascular and Hemodynamic Reactivity to Stress: Validity and Reliability of New Wearable Device for Assessing Stress Reactivity

Dr. Kira Birditt was funded to examine the effectiveness of a novel wearable device to capture continuous indices of cardiovascular indices during an acute stress paradigm and throughout the day, which the ultimate goal of validating the tool to use in longitudinal studies of stress, health, and aging.


EmoTrak: Development of an app to track daily experiences of emotion

Dr. Eve Eckman was funded to complete the development of an enhanced EMA app, EmoTrak, to capture rich daily data to examine how the subjective experience of emotion relates to daily and chronic stress and burnout. She is conducting this study in high stress medical residents at UCSF.


Measuring Caregiver Burden and Use of App-based Technology in Caregivers

Dr. Alexandra Crosswell was funded to evaluate the utility of a new measurement battery that assesses stress and burden in family caregivers, and to examine the feasibility of using app-based technology in older adult primary caregivers of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases.