Bruley Center Report on Stress Study Involving Joan Solomon Paintings

Posted on October 4, 2010

Summary Report – Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg + Gotlieb: Bruley Center Report on Stress Study Involving Joan Solomon Paintings

In the spring and summer of 2008, a study was done at the busy and renowned Minneapolis corporate and estate law firm of Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg + Gotlieb to examine how stress and adrenal function are affected by art and relaxation. Each participating attorney selected one painting from the work of the esteemed painter Joan Solomon, and those pieces were then hung in the attorneys’ offices. Four times daily — at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. — a gentle Zen bell sounded throughout the office, signaling the participating attorneys to spend 10 seconds in calming meditation while gazing at their chosen pieces of art (see “Ten Seconds to Calm,” below).

Once, at the initiation of the study of eight to 10 weeks, then once again at its conclusion, each participating lawyer completed a subjective stress-scale questionnaire and was then examined by Rob Bruley MD, DC. Dr. Bruley assessed participants’ pupillary reaction to light as a measure of adrenal function and, in particular, compared first their recumbent then their standing pulse and blood pressure. To most accurately and objectively determine the subjects’ stress response, the comparison of their systolic (upper blood-pressure number) pressures were utilized. Ideally, this systolic blood-pressure change should be an increase of six to 10 points (mmHg). An increase greater than this would imply over function of the adrenals; an increase less than this – or any decrease – would suggest adrenal hypo function.

Results

  • Of the eighteen attorneys who were able to complete both phases of the study, 66%, or twelve, showed objective improvement in their stress responses.
  • Men were slightly more likely to improve (seven of the participating ten males, or 70%, were better) than women (five of the eight females, or 62.5%, were better).
  • The women were much more likely, however, to be able to accurately assess their subjective levels of stress
  • Five out of seven women, or 71%, were correct versus four out of nine, or 44%, for the men, making the women roughly 1.6 times, or 60%, better than the men at being attuned to their true stress status.

In summation, there was a definite and significant reduction in stress achieved by the majority of the eighteen attorneys from a busy urban law firm who participated in a study utilizing artwork and four brief periods of its contemplation daily.

Rob Bruley, MD, DC
The Bruley Center

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