Oliver Glass, PhD, and integrative medicine research

Sunday, February 3, 2019
Oliver Glass, PhD

What is it about lifestyle and the effect on illness? The research published by Dr. Oliver Glass provides insight for us and about his interest in the subject.

New publication!

Glass is first author of this new paper appearing in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Trials, a paper about expressive writing to improve resilience to trauma. We asked Dr. Glass to tell us more about this and his passion for this field of research. Notice that he's also involved with Duke Health and Wellness. That's us!

What attracted you to integrative medicine?

Around the time I was in graduate school, there were intriguing preclinical studies being published on the effects of lifestyle (e.g. stress reduction, physical activity, sleep, and diet) on cancer survival. These studies were also happening in parallel with my own work on exercise effects in solid tumors, which was receiving a lot of attention. Collectively, this research emphasized the importance of lifestyle modification on disease management and trajectory. I became passionate about understanding the potential impact of our lifestyle on chronic disease, and I didn’t want my focus on exercise to be a limitation. Thus, integrative health offered a broad lens by which to understand how lifestyle can improve health and wellbeing.

Where does your work fit in modern traditional medicine?

My research in integrative medicine and health emphasizes understanding therapies (e.g. expressive writing, acupuncture, massage, physical activity, yoga, nutrition, mindfulness, meditation) that help drive the body to heal itself; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Often times these therapies can supplement traditional medicine to improve patient outcomes. Medicine is a complex model of care. There is much more to patients than treating the symptoms or cause of illness or ailments. That’s where integrative health comes in, to treat the WHOLE patient.

What is it you enjoy about this field?

I enjoy that the field is still in the early stages of understanding how integrative modalities work, how they can be incorporated into our current care model system, how they can be utilized to manage certain chronic diseases, their cost effectiveness, and especially their impact on pain-management.

I've heard that Duke Integrative Medicine places value on EBM, how does that fit?

We are all about using the evidence of our research to optimize and influence our clinical practice. To help support this model of care we are embarking on longitudinal research studies focusing on patient reported outcomes with our services, stratified according to specific patient characteristics. We want to tailor the right services to the right patient at the right time.

Any recent publications we should be aware of?

The most recent publication we have out is on expressive writing to improve resilience in patients experiencing a traumatic event in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. We have also published in the past several months on the positive effects of massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

What about going forward?

We look towards opportunities to collaborate across the health system and beyond. Some interesting studies we are currently collaborating on are: A Feasibility Study of Mindfulness Meditation Practice in Malignant Glioma Patients throughout Standard of Care Chemoradiation, Vigorous Intensity Interval Training in Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, and Expressive Writing in Adult Survivors of Pediatric Cancer and Their Caregivers. Additionally, I recently began a larger role for research beyond integrative medicine, to include all of Duke Health and Wellness. In this role, I am looking forward to expanding our infrastructure to create new and exciting research opportunities that lead to improvements in patient care for those visiting Duke Health and Wellness.

Recent publications by Dr. Glass:

Glass, O,, Dreusickea M, Evansa, E, Bechards, R, Woleverb, Q. "Expressive writing to improve resilience to trauma: A clinical feasibility trial." Complementary Therapies in Clinical Trials. Volume 34, February 2019, Pages 240-246. Full text.

Perlman, A., Fogerite, SG, Glass, O, Bechard, E, Ali, A, Njike, VY, Pieper,  C, Dmitrieva, NO, Luciano, A, Rosenberger, L, Keever, T, Milak, C, Finkelstein, EA, Mahon, G, Campanile, Cotter, A, and Katz, DL. "Efficacy and Safety of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized Clinical Trial." Journal of General Internal Medicine, 12-December-2018 first online. PMID 30543021. Full text.