Empower study women meditating

EMPOwer: A 12-week Online Wellness Program for People living with Chronic Digestive Disease

CDHF

Written by: CDHF

Updated: November 9th, 2023

Millions of Canadians live with chronic digestive disease. Life with digestive disease can be challenging for physical, emotional, and mental health. Symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression can be high, and support may be limited.

Introducing the EMPOwer Program

With this in mind, a team of researchers led by Dr. Puneeta Tandon, a hepatologist at the University of Alberta, developed an online program focused on movement, relaxation, and stress reduction. This important initiative is supported by the Government of Canada through CIHR in partnership with CDHF. This program has been tested in other chronic conditions, including autoimmune liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Each of the 12 weeks of the program contains two core components with science-based practices:

  1. Energize
    1. Weekly guided movement routines with breathwork and meditation integrated throughout
      • Four different types of movement: Low Intensity Chair Exercise, Chair exercise, Standing Yoga, Advanced Yoga, or Tai Chi
  2. Life Skills
    • A Weekly ‘Tip from your care team’ A short video by clinical experts in digestive disease, nutrition or psychology
    • Coping Skills Program – Weekly Psychology Tips
      • Core concepts include Pacing, Sleep, finding out your Values & Goal Setting!

Within the program, participants will also find fun activities, games, and ways to feel connected to the study team and others in the program, including polls, a leaderboard, a virtual assistant & more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can sign up?

At this time, we’re testing this program in adults over the age of 18+ living with chronic (life-long) digestive disease(s) (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Celiac Disease, Gastroparesis, Diverticular Disease)

Is there a cost to this program?

No, because this program is being tested as part of a research study from the University of Alberta, there is no cost to be in the program.

How do I sign up?

If you’re interested in joining the EMPOwer program, you can click here. You’ll be taken to a form where you’ll be asked to fill out your name and email address. Then, you’ll be redirected to an informed consent and a few surveys. These surveys include some screening questions to assess your mental health. Depending on how you answer these questions, you may be asked to consult with your healthcare team before beginning the program.

What is the commitment?

What will I be asked to do?

As part of the EMPOWER program, you’ll be asked to participate in an evidence-based mind-body wellness intervention for at least 90-120 minutes per week. This program has resulted in significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress and fatigue in individuals with chronic conditions. Through the program, you’ll get access to expert led physical movement, breathwork and meditation programming. You’ll also get access to weekly tips from doctors and other health care professionals about living with chronic digestive disease and a psychology program about topics that help you to identify your values, learn about pacing and improve your sleep. You will also be asked to complete some surveys about your health and your experience in the program at the beginning and end of the program.

How do I access the program?

The EMPOWER program is available online via our website. After you sign up for the program and have been assigned a program group, you will be assigned a start date. This will be the day you signed up, or in 12 weeks time. Before the first day of your program, you will receive a link to login to the program website. You can access the program from any internet-connected device like a desktop computer, laptop, phone or tablet.

What is included in the program?

The EMPOWER program has several components. You’ll get access to expert led physical movement, breathwork and meditation programming. You’ll also get access to weekly tips from doctors and other health care professionals about living with chronic digestive disease, and a psychology program about topics that help you to identify your values, learn about pacing and improve your sleep.  You will be able to attend weekly group sessions to do the program alongside other participants and you may receive 1-1 check-ins lasting about 15 minutes each week.

Who is the research team behind this program?

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