Quantifying the Impact of Urban Zen

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy™ is a program that takes gentle yoga practices, along with Reiki and essential oil therapy, to patients in health care facilities, their families and their on-staff caregivers. It is designed to address the symptoms that often accompany illness and injury—pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and exhaustion. Urban Zen therapy is extended to patients’ family members and caregivers because some or all of these same symptoms arise in them as a result of the stresses around caring for a loved one or patient who is ill or dying .

Lauren Sobol, a Clinical Analyst at Wexner Heritage Village, did a research study on the efficacy of Urban Zen treatment as part of her Master’s Degree thesis. Lauren describes her work here.

In 2013, Wexner Heritage Village (WHV) became the first clinical setting in the Midwest to offer Urban Zen to its patients and staff. By May 1, 2015, more than 1,100 documented sessions have occurred throughout the WHV campus. My study focused on a sample of 500 encounters with patients who were admitted to hospice, long term care, memory care, rehabilitation, assisted living or independent living, as well as their family members and caregivers. The variables of interest were pain level, discomfort due to their primary symptom, length of their Urban Zen sessions and their heart rate. Their primary symptom may have been any one of the PANIC model symptoms (pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation or exhaustion). The measurements were taken before and after their Urban Zen sessions.

Day after day, I received Clinical Documentation Forms from Urban Zen therapists that were filled with narratives and rankings explaining what happened in each Urban Zen session. These reports were the basis for the study data.

My study hypothesized that pain and discomfort levels would decrease due to Urban Zen interventions. Pre/post modeling documented many significant results. As shown in the graph below, pain level decreased by an average of 1.4 units per session (0-10 scale based on Wong-Baker FACES® Pain Rating Scale). The rehabilitation care setting experienced the greatest impact on pain due to that fact that patients on that unit had more acute medical conditions rather than long-term, chronic conditions. The therapy showed the least impact on Hospice patients, likely due to their increased debility and the fact that they were often non-verbal.

Change in Pain after Urban Zen

Discomfort due to chief complaint was lessened an average of 0.88 units per session (0-10 scale). Heart rate decreased an average of 6.7 beats per minute. Individuals with higher levels of pain and discomfort before treatment benefited most from Urban Zen. A dose-response relationship was discovered with treatment time, showing that longer sessions were more impactful.

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy had an overall positive impact on the entire Wexner Heritage Village campus. The combination of modalities created a well-rounded intervention and led to meaningful improvements in patient care. The whole process around this research study was extremely informative and exciting to me, and makes me feel sure that the future is bright for Urban Zen research. Rodney Yee, a wise yoga teacher and the co-designer of the Urban Zen protocol, stated that, “Any doorway that leads you to a deeper understanding of who you are is worthwhile.” I hope to continue to help people understand the power of Urban Zen.

For additional information or the complete analysis, feel free to reach out to Lauren Sobol at laurengsobol@gmail.com.

Lauren Sobol Lauren Sobol has a special passion for Urban Zen. Her interest lies in analyzing the integrative therapy’s efficiency, which she does through her role as the Clinical Analyst at Wexner Heritage Village. At WHV she serves as the UZIT Program Manager and often receives Urban Zen therapy herself, a benefit open to all WHV staff. Lauren received her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from The Ohio State University this May. She is an active and dedicated volunteer in her community. In 2015, she received the Young Professional Volunteer of the Year Award from Jewish Family Services and the Excellence in Volunteer Community Service Award from The Ohio State University Office of Outreach and Engagement for her work with suicide prevention. Lauren has experienced the power of Urban Zen firsthand and hopes to continue spreading its reach through her analyses of its worth.

For information on training to become an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, please click here.