John A Astin

San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, California, United States

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Publications (45)165.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to determine whether a mindfulness program, created for the workplace, was both practical and efficacious in decreasing employee stress while enhancing resiliency and well-being.
    Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 07/2014; 56(7):721-31. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this paper was to examine the longitudinal effects of psychological sense of control and control-related coping strategies on breast cancer outcomes. Utilizing the California Cancer Registry, follow-up data on cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality were obtained for 54 of 58 women originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 to 1994. Relationships between cancer outcomes and psychological control and mood at 4 and 8 months post-diagnosis were examined. Results of the study showed that a greater sense of control at 8 months was associated with less cancer recurrence, while higher desire for control at both 4 and 8 months was associated with greater likelihood of recurrence. Utilization of an accepting mode of control appeared to mitigate the negative effects of desire for control on recurrence. No significant relationships were observed between mood and mortality or recurrence. These findings suggest the potential value of examining psychological control and control-related coping on cancer outcomes in future epidemiological and clinical studies.
    Behavioral Medicine 01/2013; 39(1):7-10. · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the quest for active control and mastery can be seen as a central thread that ties together important aspects of human experience, we are frequently confronted with the reality that much of what is encountered in life lies outside our active instrumental control. Control must involve finding healthy and life-affirming ways to exercise personal mastery, and identifying constructive ways to respond to the lack of control that pervades the human condition. In this article we explore a number of professional areas in which physicians may experience significant feelings of loss or lack of personal control-difficult encounters with patients, dealing with patient nonadherence, end-of-life care, confronting the uncertainty and ambiguity that are frequently a part of illness, as well as institutional and systemic factors that can result in loss of various forms of autonomy and control over decision-making. We then consider maladaptive ways in which physicians sometimes attempt to address such losses of control and suggest that personal stress and burnout and difficulty developing effective therapeutic relationships with patients may be the consequence, in part, of these efforts. Finally, we discuss an empirically derived, multidimensional theoretical model for better understanding control dynamics, and identifying more optimal strategies physicians can employ in their efforts to gain and regain a sense of control in caring for patients.
    Families Systems & Health 03/2011; 29(1):15-28. · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Both psychological and neurobiological findings lend support to the long-standing clinical observation that negative affect is involved in the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence, and difficulty coping with negative affect is a common precipitant of relapse after treatment. Although many current approaches to relapse prevention emphasize change-based strategies for managing negative cognitions and affect, acceptance-based strategies for preventing relapse to alcohol use are intended to provide methods for coping with distress that are fundamentally different from, though in theory complementary to, approaches that emphasize control and change. This paper describes the development of Acceptance-Based Coping for Relapse Prevention (ABCRP), a new intervention for alcohol-dependent individuals who are within 6 months of having quit drinking. Results of preliminary testing indicate that the intervention is feasible with this population; and a small uncontrolled pilot study (N = 23) showed significant (P < .01) improvements in self-reported negative affect, emotional reactivity, perceived stress, positive affect, psychological well-being, and mindfulness level, as well as a trend (P = .06) toward reduction in craving severity between pre- and postintervention assessments. The authors conclude that this acceptance-based intervention seems feasible and holds promise for improving affect and reducing relapse in alcohol-dependent individuals, warranting further research.
    Substance Abuse 04/2010; 31(2):108-16. · 1.25 Impact Factor
  • Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, 01/2010; , ISBN: 9780470479216
  • Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, 01/2010; , ISBN: 9780470479216
  • Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, 01/2010; , ISBN: 9780470479216
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    C Vieten, J Astin
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    ABSTRACT: Stress and negative mood during pregnancy increase risk for poor childbirth outcomes and postnatal mood problems and may interfere with mother-infant attachment and child development. However, relatively little research has focused on the efficacy of psychosocial interventions to reduce stress and negative mood during pregnancy. In this study, we developed and pilot tested an eight-week mindfulness-based intervention directed toward reducing stress and improving mood in pregnancy and early postpartum. We then conducted a small randomized trial (n=31) comparing women who received the intervention during the last half of their pregnancy to a wait-list control group. Measures of perceived stress, positive and negative affect, depressed and anxious mood, and affect regulation were collected prior to, immediately following, and three months after the intervention (postpartum). Mothers who received the intervention showed significantly reduced anxiety (effect size, 0.89; p<0.05) and negative affect (effect size, 0.83; p<0.05) during the third trimester in comparison to those who did not receive the intervention. The brief and nonpharmaceutical nature of this intervention makes it a promising candidate for use during pregnancy.
    Archives of Women s Mental Health 02/2008; 11(1):67-74. · 2.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To examine residents' and medical students' attitudes toward the incorporation of psychosocial factors in diagnosis and treatment and to identify barriers to the integration of evidence-based, mind-body methods. A random sample of third- and fourth-year medical students and residents was drawn from the Masterfiles of the American Medical Association. A total of 661 medical students and 550 residents completed a survey, assessing attitudes toward the role of psychosocial factors and the clinical application of behavioral/mind-body methods. The response rate was 40%. Whereas a majority of students and residents seem to recognize the need to address psychosocial factors, 30%-40% believe that addressing such factors leads to minimal or no improvements in outcomes. The majority of students and residents reports that their training in these areas was ineffective, yet relatively few indicate interest in receiving further training. Females are more likely to believe in the need to address psychosocial factors. Additional factors associated with greater openness to addressing psychosocial factors include (1) the perception that training in these areas was helpful, and (2) personal use of behavioral/mind-body methods to care for one's own health. There is a need for more comprehensive training during medical school and residency regarding both the role of psychosocial factors in health and the application of evidence-based, behavioral/mind-body methods. The current health care structure-particularly insufficient time and inadequate reimbursement for addressing psychosocial factors-may be undermining efforts to improve patient care through inconsistent or nonexistent application of the biopsychosocial model.
    Academic Medicine 02/2008; 83(1):20-7. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes recent theoretical developments and empirical findings regarding the role of negative affect (NA) and emotion regulation in nicotine dependence and smoking cessation. It begins with a review of affect-based models of addiction that address conditioning, affect motivational, and neurobiological mechanisms and then describes the role of NA and emotion regulation in the initiation and maintenance of cigarette smoking. Next, the role of emotion regulation, coping skill deficits, depression, and anxiety sensitivity in explaining the relationship between NA and smoking relapse are discussed. We then review recent models of affect regulation, including emotional intelligence, reappraisal and suppression, and emotional acceptance, and describe implications for substance abuse and smoking cessation interventions. Finally, we point out the need for further investigations of the moderating role of individual differences in response to NA in the maintenance of nicotine dependence, and controlled randomized trials testing the efficacy of acceptance-based interventions in facilitating smoking cessation and relapse prevention.
    Journal of psychoactive drugs 01/2008; 39(4):499-508. · 1.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Headache is one of the most common and enigmatic problems encountered by family physicians. Headache is not a singular entity, and different pathologic mechanisms are involved in distinct types of headache. Most types of headache involve dysfunction of peripheral or central nociceptive mechanisms. Mind-body therapies such as biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, meditation, and relaxation training can affect neural substrates and have been shown to be effective treatments for various types of headache. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials show that the use of mind-body therapies, alone or in combination, significantly reduces symptoms of migraine, tension, and mixed-type headaches. Side effects generally are minimal and transient.
    American family physician 12/2007; 76(10):1518-22. · 1.61 Impact Factor
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    John A Astin
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    ABSTRACT: In the current issue of Arthritis Care & Research, the study by Pradhan and colleagues (1) suggests that training in the skill of mindfulness (what they and others have defined as "moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness" (2)) may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While the investigators failed to find significant changes in RA disease activity as measured by the Disease Activity Score 28-joint assessment, the 35% reduction in psychological distress at 6-month followup is not insignificant, particu- larly given the considerable mood disturbance and psy- chological effects that can accompany pain-related condi- tions such as arthritis. Although the study was likely underpowered and limited by the lack of an active control condition, the fact that positive changes were observed at 6 months (and were, in fact, more pronounced than those seen at the postintervention assessment) suggests that the intervention, and not merely some nonspecific (placebo/ expectancy) factor, was responsible for the symptom im- provements observed. These positive changes in mood and psychological well- being are consistent with data from other studies of the potential value of mindfulness-based interventions to re- duce stress and help patients cope more effectively with the mental, emotional, and physical challenges that fre- quently accompany chronic health conditions (3). Pradhan and colleagues' findings also lend support to the growing evidence base encouraging the use of an array of psycho- logical interventions to improve mood and quality of life in patients with arthritis and other pain-related conditions (4,5). For example, a meta-analysis published in 2002 (4) found that the adjunctive use of psychological interven- tions (such as multimodal cognitive-behavioral interven- tions that teach skills for stress management, pain coping, and relaxation) improves clinical outcomes such as pain, function, and quality of life in patients with RA. Similar
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 11/2007; 57(7):1116-8. · 7.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mind-body medicine (MBM) approaches to many health problems have been well documented in the literature, including through multiple meta-analyses. Efficacy has been well demonstrated in conditions such as headache, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, fibromyalgia, hypertension, low back pain, depression, cancer symptoms, and postmyocardial infarction. However, an apparent disconnect (ie, translational block) prevents more widespread adoption of such therapies into practice. Biofeedback, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, guided imagery, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoeducational approaches are the domain of MBM we examined in assessing physician attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Using a Web-based survey, we obtained responses from 74 faculty and resident physicians in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry. Our response rate was 69%. We conducted descriptive statistics, bivariate analysis, and multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model. Various statistics were chosen depending on the nature of analyzed variables. Synoptic tables are presented. Comparing these cohorts, we found little difference between physicians in the two specialties, but substantial reports that barriers to the use of MBM were largely based on lack of training, inadequate expertise, and insufficient clinic time. Lack of expertise and insufficient clinic time were higher among family physicians than among psychiatrists. There was a high interest in both groups in learning relaxation techniques and meditation and lower interest in biofeedback and hypnosis. Female physicians were significantly more likely to use MBM, both with patients and for their own self-care, and were less likely to be concerned that recommending these therapies would make patients feel that their symptoms were being discounted. Female physicians also had significantly higher beliefs about the benefits of MBM on health disorders in several of the conditions examined, with a consistent though nonsignificant trend in others.
    EXPLORE The Journal of Science and Healing 03/2007; 3(2):129-35. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, the psychological construct mindfulness has received a great deal of attention. The majority of research has focused on clinical studies to evaluate the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions. This line of research has led to promising data suggesting mindfulness-based interventions are effective for treatment of both psychological and physical symptoms. However, an equally important direction for future research is to investigate questions concerning mechanisms of action underlying mindfulness-based interventions. This theoretical paper proposes a model of mindfulness, in an effort to elucidate potential mechanisms to explain how mindfulness affects positive change. Potential implications and future directions for the empirical study of mechanisms involved in mindfulness are addressed.
    Journal of Clinical Psychology 04/2006; 62(3):373-86. · 2.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine patterns and predictors of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among breast cancer patients. A review of the existing survey literature on CAM use for breast cancer was conducted with a series of eight focus groups (N = 67) to further examine the perspectives of breast cancer patients on CAM. The rates of CAM use varied from 17 to 75%, with a mean of 45%. Vitamins and minerals and herbs were the most frequently cited categories. Users tended to be younger, more educated, and more likely to have used CAM prior to their diagnosis. Focus group data indicate that breast cancer patients use a wide array of CAM for a variety of reasons, including symptom management, improving quality of life, and enhancing immune function. Although women rely on a variety of resources for information, they frequently experience frustration owing to the absence or conflicting nature of such information. Communication with conventional providers about CAM is frequently experienced as either unsupportive or not helpful by many patients. The results point to the value of developing better evidence-based informational resources related to CAM and cancer and the need for physicians to become better educated about CAM and how to communicate more effectively with their breast cancer patients about it.
    Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology 02/2006; 4(4):157-69.
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    ABSTRACT: Examine physicians' attitudes toward the incorporation of psychosocial factors in diagnosis and treatment and identify barriers to the integration of evidence-based mind-body methods. Random sample of primary care physicians and physicians from selected non-primary specialties was drawn. A total of 1058 physicians completed a 12-page survey. The response rate was 27%. Although a majority of physicians seem to recognize the importance of addressing psychosocial issues, approximately one third believe that addressing such factors would lead to minimal or no improvements in outcomes. A minority reports their training regarding the role of psychosocial factors was effective, and relatively few indicate interest in receiving further training in these areas. Males were less likely to believe in the importance of addressing psychosocial factors. Additional factors included perceptions that training was poor in these areas; feelings of low self-efficacy to address psychosocial issues and the perception that such factors are difficult to control; lack of knowledge of the evidence-base supporting the role of psychosocial factors; and lack of time and inadequate reimbursement to address the psychosocial domain. These results suggest the need for more comprehensive training in the role of psychosocial factors in health. In addition, the finding that physicians identify lack of time and inadequate reimbursement as significant barriers suggests that the current health care delivery system may, in many respects, be antithetical to the biopsychosocial model.
    The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 01/2006; 19(6):557-65. · 1.76 Impact Factor
  • John A Astin, Thomas G Goddard, Kelly Forys
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    ABSTRACT: This study of medical students, residents, and physicians examined their responses to focus group questions in an effort to understand barriers to discussing psychosocial issues and using mind-body interventions to address health issues. Four focus groups were conducted: two with medical students and residents, one with primary care doctors, and one with physicians representing different specialties. Responses were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Factors identified as possible barriers to recognizing the importance of psychosocial/mind-body factors included lack of knowledge of evidence base, inadequate attention paid to the mind-body area in training, perceived lack of competence to use mind-body methods, inadequate time, lack of economic incentive, perception that psychosocial factors are beyond their capacity to control, tendency to perceive conditions as either biological or psychosocial in nature, perception that patients do not want to address psychosocial/lifestyle issues, and cultural beliefs that addressing the psychosocial domain is not within the purview of physicians. Despite evidence that psychosocial issues play an important role in health outcomes, students, residents, and practicing physicians reported that methods to deal with these issues are frequently given inadequate attention in medical training, and many physicians feel ill equipped to deal with these issues. In addition, environmental factors, including lack of time, insufficient monetary incentives, and a larger cultural ethos that favors the "quick-fix" over the more difficult task of examining the role of psychosocial factors, appear to serve as significant barriers to medicine's more fully embracing the biopsychosocial model.
    EXPLORE The Journal of Science and Healing 08/2005; 1(4):278-83. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our objective was to develop a pilot measure of subjective outcomes of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Current options for assessing subjective outcomes in CAM are either too burdensome or fail to represent diverse outcomes. A single measure specifying common, patient-reported outcomes of CAM would be of value. We conducted a three-phase instrument development study. In phase I, 30 CAM-receiving patients and 12 CAM practitioners completed a battery of standardized measures. Participants identified those standardized items relevant to CAM outcome and suggested additional outcome issues. In phase II, 20 CAM-receiving patients completed a Q-sort to determine which items from phase I were most relevant to CAM outcome. In phase III, five experts reviewed the items from phase II for content validity. An integrative medicine clinic at a private, Midwest US hospital. CAM patients, practitioners, and researchers and an outcomes measurement specialist. In phase I, 30 standardized items were judged relevant to CAM outcome, and 8 additional items were suggested. In phase II, 29 of the 38 phase I items were deemed at least "moderately relevant" to CAM outcome. In phase III, experts added 15 items, dropped 9 items, and altered 3 items. The 35 resulting items were classified into content domains, forming a testable, pilot version of the instrument.
    EXPLORE The Journal of Science and Healing 06/2005; 1(3):177-85. · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The literature is replete with evidence that the stress inherent in health care negatively impacts health care professionals, leading to increased depression, decreased job satisfaction, and psychological distress. In an attempt to address this, the current study examined the effects of a short-term stress management program, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), on health care professionals. Results from this prospective randomized controlled pilot study suggest that an 8-week MBSR intervention may be effective for reducing stress and increasing quality of life and self-compassion in health care professionals. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
    International Journal of Stress Management - INT J STRESS MANAGEMENT. 01/2005; 12(2):164-176.

Publication Stats

3k Citations
165.98 Total Impact Points

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Institutions

  • 2007–2008
    • San Francisco VA Medical Center
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2002–2008
    • California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2000–2002
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2001
    • University of Rochester
      • School of Medicine and Dentistry
      Rochester, NY, United States
  • 1998–2000
    • Stanford University
      • Stanford Prevention Research Center
      Stanford, CA, United States
  • 1994–1997
    • University of California, Irvine
      • • Department of Psychology and Social Behavior
      • • Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
      Irvine, CA, United States