To alleviate human suffering
and improve the human condition
The ACT in Context Research Lab is a lab affiliated with the ACT at Duke program. It is based in the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the School of Medicine and led by Dr. Rhonda Merwin. The laboratory uses contextual behavioral science to understand and alleviate human suffering. Although there are many ways in which humans suffer, our research focuses on suffering that arises from having an adversarial relationship with the body and signals arising from the body (this includes hunger/satiety, but also somatic constitutes of emotion and physical pain). We study populations for whom rejection of body signals has resulted in profound deprivation or impairment, including individuals with anorexia nervosa and individuals with type 1 diabetes who withhold life-saving insulin to lose weight.
Our research uses contextually sensitive assessment and intervention, and includes gathering data in the moment using mobile technology, e.g., smart phones, sensors etc. Our applied research investigates the utility of acceptance, mindfulness and values in behavior change.
We frequently have student volunteers in our lab. Volunteers acquire experience in clinical research in an academic medical center, and are mentored by senior members of the lab. Please contact us if you are interested in joining the lab!
Hot Off the Press!
Journal of Eating Disorders volume 7, Article number: 7 (2019)
Topics Under Investigation
Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge
Interoceptive awareness / willingness
Self-regulation / self-attunement
Maladaptive eating and weight control
Acceptance, mindfulness and values-based interventions
Use of mobile technology for contextually sensitive assessment and intervention
iACT: An mHealth Intervention to Reduce Insulin Restriction in Type 1 Diabetes
Momentary Predictors of Eating Disorder Symptoms
Appetite Dysregulation in Type 1 Diabetes
ACT for Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa: A Separated Family Treatment
ACT for Resident Burnout
Rule-governed Behavior in Anorexia Nervosa
Current and Past Projects