Reflecting Pool link

Research Partnerships

Reflecting Pool entries lend themselves to qualitative research and analysis. Organizations interested in better understanding and serving the needs of their community can use this tool. In 2012-13, an early version of Reflecting Pools (then called 'JOMMA: Journal of My Medical Associations,') was researched as an intervention among breast cancer survivors.

The JOMMA Study
Project Lulu's Lisa McKhann partnered with Colleen Baggs, director of Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center, and with senior research scientist, Charles Gessert at Essentia Institute of Rural Health to develop the study protocol. The study population was breast cancer survivors 1-5 years 'out' from diagnosis, all living in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and eastern North Dakota. Over the course of one year, small groups of 12-15 women each spent six weeks writing anonymously, sharing, and selectively reading the entries of others. They received weekly pep-talks by email, encouraging them with very general prompts.

The quantitative part of the study used three instruments to measure 'psycho-social' change in these women after their six weeks of writing. Each study participant answered these surveys (FACT-B, Mini-MAC, and PTGI) three times over the course of their participation. Preliminary results don't show measurable change through these instruments and under these conditions.

However, qualitative data, meaning the journal writings of these women, and their comments about the experience itself show a different story. Many explored new territory, found new community, and used the writing to process aspects of their illness, recovery and mortality.

View 'Good To Get It Out' video, excerpts presented live by professional actors at University of Iowa's Carver School of Medicine conference The Examined Life, April 2013

Read our Minnesota Medicine article, "Healing Through Reflective Writing: Breast Cancer Survivors’ Experience," July 2013.

Read article about this research collaboration, "EIRH partners with cancer survivor on journaling study" in Essentia Health's "Daily Dose," June 2012.

The JOMMA Study Team included:
Colleen Baggs, RN, principal investigator, Director of Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center

Dr. Charles Gessert, MD and MPH, Senior research scientist, Essentia Institute of Rural Health (EIRH)

Brian Johnson, MPH, Biostatistician, EIRH

Lisa McKhann, MA, Director, Project Lulu

Jeanette Palcher, BA. Informatics Analyst, EIRH

JOMMA Study funders include:

  • The Miller-Dwan Foundation
  • Essentia Health Foundation (Breast Cancer & Health Fund)
  • Essentia Health Scientific Review Board
  • Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation
  • photo of The JOMMA Study Team

    The JOMMA Study Team (L to R):
    Brian Johnson, Colleen Baggs,
    Lisa McKhann, Jeanette Palcher
    and Dr. Charles Gessert.



    Excerpt from JOMMA Study staged reading “Good to Get It Out” at University of Iowa’s “Examined Life Conference," April 2013.