University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Conjecturing worst-case scenario may reduce stress

     He's probably the only faculty member in the UD's College of
Nursing who can bench press 350 pounds and lift 530 pounds of
dead weight.
     Thomas L. Hardie, assistant professor of nursing, was the
1994 Pennsylvania Champion in the master's division of the
National Association of Strength Athletes. Competing at that
level, Hardie knows all about stress and how to handle it.
     It's no wonder he's a stress-reduction researcher.
     Realistic measurement of a stressful situation is a first
defense in the battle to keep stress from getting out of control,
according to Hardie, a psychiatric nurse, with a doctorate in
nursing education and administration from Columbia University.
     "Realistic measurement is difficult in a stressful situation
because, during stress, there is a tendency to make things overly
important," he explains. "Conjecturing a 'worst-case' scenario is
a way to keep things in perspective."
     With research support from the University, Hardie and
Christine Johnston, also an assistant professor in the College of
Nursing, have been conducting research on ways to evaluate stress-
reduction techniques with UD staff members in Facilities
Management and Custodial Services.
     For 10 weeks, Hardie and Johnston worked with two groups of
volunteers from within those units.
     One group was given a lot of information about stress
reduction. The other group received more practical
experience-actually doing such stress-reduction exercises as
imagery, progressive relaxing and relaxed breathing.
     "We wanted to see if there is a difference between just
knowing something and actually doing it," Hardie explains.
     "Both groups felt that the classes were beneficial," Hardie
says. He and Johnston will spend the summer evaluating the data,
as well as mapping out a similar course for middle managers.
     In addition to his work at the University, Hardie is
associated with a U.S. Health Care Demonstration Project through
Psychiatric Care Associates. For that project, he works in a
physician's office treating people with stress-related problems
to determine if medical costs can be curtailed by early treatment
of  stress.
     In the future, he says he hopes to do research in the field
of alternative medical treatments for depression and its
detection during primary care.
                                                  -Beth Thomas