The culmination of several years of data collection and research, Sarah Burstein’s paper, “Facets of Mindfulness and Health Among a Predominantly Low-Income Community Sample” was published in January in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Mindfulness.
The 2019 graduate began work on the project as a student assistant in the lab of Associate Professor of Psychology Jamie S. Bodenlos, who served as co-author of Burstein’s paper along with Elizabeth Hawes ’19 and Kelsey Arroyo ’18. Led by Burstein, the group surveyed 256 Geneva residents from low-income families to better understand the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and health among that population.
“Dispositional mindfulness is the level of mindful awareness someone has as a baseline, on a day-to-day basis, rather than state mindfulness which is the enhanced mindful awareness you experience during activities such as yoga or meditation,” says Burstein. Her research concluded that dispositional mindfulness had a “significant effect” on the ability of those surveyed to exhibit traits of non-judging and non-reactivity.
What this means, says Burstein, is that “mindfulness-based programs may be beneficial for this demographic if focused on the enhancement of non-judgment, non-reactivity and acting with awareness.”
Burstein’s research was funded by a competitive grant from Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology. The HWS Psi Chi chapter, of which Burstein served as president in 2018-19, was named a Model Chapter in 2017. During her senior year, Burstein’s work served as her Honors thesis, and she subsequently presented her work at the Society of Behavior Medicine’s 40th Annual Meeting and Scientific Session in 2019.
According to Bodenlos, Burstein’s success with her research is a significant accomplishment. “A first author publication in a high impact journal like Mindfulness is a rare achievement for an undergraduate,” she says. “This will help her as she applies to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology.”
Currently, Burstein is in Boston working as a psychometrician in a neuropsychology clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. “I assist with the administration and scoring of cognitive and behavioral neuropsychological tests to both pediatric and adult patients,” she says. She continues to do research with Bodenlos; they recently had a poster accepted to the Eastern Psychological Association Conference this spring.
“Sarah is a highly motivated student and extremely hard working,” says Bodenlos. “She has a high level of potential in the field of clinical psychology and to continue work with underserved communities. I’m excited to see where her career takes her.”