Improve Chronic Conditions with Mindfulness Taught over the Internet

Improve Chronic Conditions with Mindfulness Taught over the Internet

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It’s important for people living with health conditions to recognize what they are feeling, instead of trying to push painful thoughts and emotions away, which can actually amplify them. For those living with serious medical conditions, mindfulness can help them accept and respond to difficult feelings, including fear, loneliness and sadness. By bringing mindfulness to emotions (and the thoughts that may underlie them), we can begin to see them more clearly and recognize that they are temporary.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. This makes delivery to individuals in remote locations nearly impossible.

 

As an alternative, applications over the internet and on smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations, and being available to patients in remote areas. But, the question arises as to the level of compliance with the training and the effectiveness of these internet applications in inducing mindfulness and improving physical and psychological health in chronically ill patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Digital Characteristics and Dissemination Indicators to Optimize Delivery of Internet-Supported Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With a Chronic Condition: Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107686/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123540/  ), Russell and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of internet based mindfulness training programs for the treatment of patients with chronic diseases. They identified 10 randomized controlled studies that contained a control group where mindfulness training was performed over the internet. The patients were afflicted with chronic pain in 3 of the studies, and in single studies with fibromyalgia, heart disease, cancer post-treatment, anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, residual depressive symptoms, and psychosis.

 

They found that internet-based mindfulness interventions in general had significant beneficial effects that improved patient functioning in comparison to the control groups. Half of the studies reported follow-up measurements that reflected persisting benefits. They noted that when measured participant adherence to the programs was in general low.

 

Hence, it appears that internet-based mindfulness interventions are safe and effective treatments for the well-being of patients with chronic diseases. This is potentially very important as these interventions can be administered inexpensively, conveniently, and to large numbers of patients regardless of their locations, greatly increasing the impact of the treatments.

 

There are some caveats. The majority of the participants by far were women and there was no study that compared the efficacy of the internet-based intervention to the comparable face-to-face intervention or another treatment. So, it was recommended that future studies include more males and a comparison to another treatment.

 

So, improve chronic conditions with mindfulness taught over the internet.

 

“MBSR programs might not reverse underlying chronic disease, but they can make it easier to cope with symptoms, improve overall well-being and quality of life and improve health outcomes.” – Monika Merkes

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Russell, L., Ugalde, A., Milne, D., Austin, D., & Livingston, P. M. (2018). Digital Characteristics and Dissemination Indicators to Optimize Delivery of Internet-Supported Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With a Chronic Condition: Systematic Review. JMIR Mental Health, 5(3), e53. http://doi.org/10.2196/mental.9645

 

Abstract

Background

Internet-supported mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly being used to support people with a chronic condition. Characteristics of MBIs vary greatly in their mode of delivery, communication patterns, level of facilitator involvement, intervention period, and resource intensity, making it difficult to compare how individual digital features may optimize intervention adherence and outcomes.

Objective

The aims of this review were to (1) provide a description of digital characteristics of internet-supported MBIs and examine how these relate to evidence for efficacy and adherence to the intervention and (2) gain insights into the type of information available to inform translation of internet-supported MBIs to applied settings.

Methods

MEDLINE Complete, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched for studies assessing an MBI delivered or accessed via the internet and engaging participants in daily mindfulness-based activities such as mindfulness meditations and informal mindfulness practices. Only studies using a comparison group of alternative interventions (active compactor), usual care, or wait-list were included. Given the broad definition of chronic conditions, specific conditions were not included in the original search to maximize results. The search resulted in 958 articles, from which 11 articles describing 10 interventions met the inclusion criteria.

Results

Internet-supported MBIs were more effective than usual care or wait-list groups, and self-guided interventions were as effective as facilitator-guided interventions. Findings were informed mainly by female participants. Adherence to interventions was inconsistently defined and prevented robust comparison between studies. Reporting of factors associated with intervention dissemination, such as population representativeness, program adoption and maintenance, and costs, was rare.

Conclusions

More comprehensive descriptions of digital characteristics need to be reported to further our understanding of features that may influence engagement and behavior change and to improve the reproducibility of MBIs. Gender differences in determinants and patterns of health behavior should be taken into account at the intervention design stage to accommodate male and female preferences. Future research could compare MBIs with established evidence-based therapies to identify the population groups that would benefit most from internet-supported programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123540/

 

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Relieve Depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People at risk for depression are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs about themselves and this can easily slide into a depressive relapse. MBCT helps them to recognize that’s happening, engage with it in a different way and respond to it with equanimity and compassion.” – Willem Kuyken

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But, drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail.

 

The most commonly used mindfulness technique for the treatment of depression is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT involves mindfulness training, containing sitting and walking meditation and body scan, and cognitive therapy to alter how the patient relates to the thought processes that often underlie and exacerbate psychological symptoms. MBCT has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant drugs in relieving the symptoms of depression and preventing depression reoccurrence and relapse. In addition, it appears to be effective as either a supplement to or a replacement for these drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/ ), MacKenzie and colleagues review the published research literature on the application of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to the treatment of depression. They find that the published research makes a very strong case that MBCT is a safe and effective treatment for depression, reducing depression when present and preventing relapse when in remission. The literature also finds that MBCT appears to act on depression by heightening mindfulness, increasing self-compassion and positive emotions and by reducing repetitive negative thoughts (rumination) and cognitive and emotional reactivity.

 

MBCT, however, classically requires a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules. As a result, on-line mindfulness training programs and workbook programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs and making training schedules much more flexible. MacKenzie and colleagues report that the research demonstrates that MBCT, delivered either over the web or via study-at-home workbooks is also a safe and effective treatment for depression.

 

The review suggests that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has a wide variety of positive psychological effects on the participant that work to counter and prevent depression and that MBCT is effective delivered either by a trained therapist or over the web or via study-at-home workbooks.

 

So, relieve depression with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

 

MBCT therapists teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause a downward spiral into a depressed state so they will be able to fight off depression before it takes hold.” – Psychology Today

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

MacKenzie, M. B., Abbott, K. A., & Kocovski, N. L. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with depression: current perspectives. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 14, 1599–1605. http://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S160761

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed to prevent relapse in individuals with depressive disorders. This widely used intervention has garnered considerable attention and a comprehensive review of current trends is warranted. As such, this review provides an overview of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and concludes with a discussion of dissemination. Results provided strong support for the efficacy of MBCT despite some methodological shortcomings in the reviewed literature. With respect to mechanisms of action, specific elements, such as mindfulness, repetitive negative thinking, self-compassion and affect, and cognitive reactivity have emerged as important mechanisms of change. Finally, despite a lack of widespread MBCT availability outside urban areas, research has shown that self-help variations are promising. Combined with findings that teacher competence may not be a significant predictor of treatment outcome, there are important implications for dissemination. Taken together, this review shows that while MBCT is an effective treatment for depression, continued research in the areas of efficacy, mechanisms of action, and dissemination are recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018485/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, online mindfulness training programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations.

 

One difficulty with understanding the effects of mindfulness training is that they often contain multiple components such as training on the ideas of mindfulness, practicing mindfulness in everyday activities, meditation, chanting, body scanning, yoga, etc. It cannot be determined then what component or combination of components are responsible for the effects. It would be helpful to compare one form of training with the same training minus single components to begin to isolate what components are necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/ ), Cavanagh and colleagues compared a 2-week online mindfulness training containing meditation with the same training without meditation. They recruited university students and staff to participate in a “Learning Mindfulness online” course and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training, mindfulness training without meditation, or a wait-list control condition.

 

The mindfulness training consisted of a 5-minute mindfulness video and a 2000-word teaching on mindfulness that recommended performing one activity per week mindfully. The training also had a daily guided walking exercise. When meditation was included it consisted of instructions on meditation and a daily 10-minute guided meditation. The participants were measured before and after training for mindfulness, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, perseverative thinking, and a daily questionnaire on the use of training components.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control, both mindfulness training groups had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and significantly lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and perseverative thinking. They also found that perseverative thinking mediated the effects of mindfulness on perceived stress, anxiety, and depression. That is mindfulness was associated with decreased perseverative thinking (worry, rumination) which was, in turn, associated with lower perceived stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

The primary findings that mindfulness training decreases perseverative thinking, perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and that rumination (perseverative thinking is an important mediator http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/category/research-news/anxiety/of the effects, are not new as have been documented repeatedly elsewhere. What is new is that a relatively brief, online, training is sufficient to produce these benefits. The fact that it could be taught exclusively online is important and suggests that mindfulness training can be implemented broadly, at low cost, and great convenience.

 

It was surprising that the inclusion of meditation in the mindfulness training did not add any extra benefits. This may suggest that training on the application of mindfulness to day to day living is the most important component of mindfulness training for producing improvements in the psychological state of otherwise healthy individuals. This suggests that it is using mindfulness in ongoing day to day activities is very important for the training to be effective.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“Their analysis indicated that one skill—the ability to consciously focus on moment-to-moment experiences—fully predicted the benefits of mindfulness for work-related maladies.” – Adam Hoffman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cavanagh, K., Churchard, A., O’Hanlon, P., Mundy, T., Votolato, P., Jones, F., … Strauss, C. (2018). A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1191–1205. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0856-1

 

Abstract

Building on previous research, this study compared the effects of two brief, online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs; with and without formal meditation practice) and a no intervention control group in a non-clinical sample. One hundred and fifty-five university staff and students were randomly allocated to a 2-week, self-guided, online MBI with or without mindfulness meditation practice, or a wait list control. Measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, perseverative thinking and anxiety/depression symptoms within were administered before and after the intervention period. Intention to treat analysis identified significant differences between groups on change over time for all measured outcomes. Participation in the MBIs was associated with significant improvements in all measured domains (all ps < 0.05), with effect sizes in the small to medium range (0.25 to 0.37, 95% CIs 0.11 to 0.56). No significant changes on these measures were found for the control group. Change in perseverative thinking was found to mediate the relationship between condition and improvement on perceived stress and anxiety/depression symptom outcomes. Contrary to our hypotheses, no differences between the intervention conditions were found. Limitations of the study included reliance on self-report data, a relatively high attrition rate and absence of a longer-term follow-up. This study provides evidence in support of the feasibility and effectiveness of brief, self-guided MBIs in a non-clinical population and suggests that reduced perseverative thinking may be a mechanism of change. Our findings provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a mindfulness psychoeducation condition, without an invitation to formal mindfulness meditation practice. Further research is needed to confirm and better understand these results and to test the potential of such interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061247/

Improve Quality of Life with Migraine Headaches with Mindfulness

Improve Quality of Life with Migraine Headaches with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Be mindful of your breathing. If you notice that your respirations are fast and shallow, concentrate on taking slower, deeper and longer breaths. As your breathing slows, your body will begin to relax. Tensions and stress slowly will ebb from your body, allowing you to release the some of the pain and discomfort associated with your headaches.” – National Headache Institute

 

Migraine headaches are a torment far beyond the suffering of a common headache. It is an intense throbbing pain usually unilateral, focused on only one side of the head and lasts from 4 hours to 3 days. They are actually a collection of neurological symptoms. Migraines often include: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. Migraines are the 8th most disabling illness in the world. While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, about 4% have chronic daily headaches. Migraines are very disruptive to the sufferer’s personal and work lives as most people are unable to work or function normally when experiencing a migraine.

 

There is no known cure for migraine headaches. Treatments are targeted at managing the symptoms. Prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers are frequently used. There are a number of drug and drug combinations that appear to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. These vary in effectiveness but unfortunately can have troubling side effects and some are addictive. Behaviorally, relaxation and sleep appear to help lower the frequency of migraines. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce stress and improve relaxation. So, they may be useful in preventing migraines. Indeed, it has been shown that mindfulness practice can reduce headache pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness for female outpatients with chronic primary headaches: an internet-based bibliotherapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6036307/ ), Tavallaei and colleagues recruited women suffering with migraine headaches and randomly assigned them to receive either an on-line mindfulness training based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or medical treatment as usual. The mindfulness training program was presented over the internet in 8 weekly sessions and included meditation, body scan, and didactic presentation. The participants were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, migraine disability, pain, and distress including depression, anxiety, and stress.

 

They found that in comparison to the baseline and the treatment-as-usual control group that the group who received mindfulness training had significantly lower levels of migraine disability, distress, and pain and significantly higher levels of mindfulness. They found that the reductions in pain were due to changes in the emotional reactions to pain and not the sensory experiences of pain. So, the pain was perceived normally but the women did not react to the sensations emotionally and this resulted in a lower impact of the headache pain.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training increases the quality of life and reduces the psychological distress of women with migraine headaches. Similar findings have been reported in other prior research studies. The importance of the present study resides in the presentation of the program over the internet. Presentation over the internet is important as in-person programs are inconvenient and expensive. Presentation over the internet allows for widespread, convenient, and inexpensive distribution of the therapy to affected populations. This makes mindfulness training more readily available to migraine sufferers.

 

So, improve quality of life with migraine headaches with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness has been examined as a treatment for chronic pain and pain-related conditions, finding positive results such as reduction in medication usage, improved physical functioning, and physical-health-related quality of life.” – Monika Tomova

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tavallaei, V., Rezapour-Mirsaleh, Y., Rezaiemaram, P., & Saadat, S. H. (2018). Mindfulness for female outpatients with chronic primary headaches: an internet-based bibliotherapy. European Journal of Translational Myology, 28(2), 7380. http://doi.org/10.4081/ejtm.2018.7380

 

Abstract

Our aim was to investigate effectiveness of mindfulness by bibliotherapy on disability, distress, perceived pain and mindfulness in women with tension headaches and migraines. Primary headaches have been of great interest to mental health researchers because of the high prevalence, as well as significant disability and distress in the affected people. Despite the promising results of in-person treatment and some limitations that such interventions may cause, patients may be encountered with problems when using health care services. The present study is a quasi-experimental randomized design with pre-test, post-test, and control group. The study population consisted of 1396 women with migraine headache referring to headache clinic of Baqiyatallah Hospital in Tehran. Of these, 30 patients (including tboh experimental and control group) were selected by objective sampling method and were randomly assigned to the two groups. The experimental group, in addition to medical treatment as usual, was treated for a period of 8 sessions by Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Internet-based Bibliotherapy, but the control group used only the medical treatment. The sample had no attritions. Data were collected by the four scales of (DASS-21), Migraine Disability Assessment Test (MIDAS), McGill’s Short Form Questionnaire (MPQ-SF), and Mindfulness Inventory (MAAS). We used covariance analysis to analyze the findings in the measured scales. MBSR-IBB treatment had no significant effect on pain sensory dimension (P <0.44), despite improvement of mindfulness (P <0.0001). In contrast, the greatest effect was on the level of disability (P <0.0001). We observed also a significant improvement in distress (P <0.0001). In conclusion, in spite of the presence of headaches, the mindfulness improved the quality of life and reduced the level of mental distress. In addition, using the Internet-based bibliotherapy method, these services can be used with easier access, lower cost, and more flexibility.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6036307/

 

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

Rumination and Worry Interfere with the Development of Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Worry and rumination are forms of persistent negative thinking. They involve a predominance of verbal thoughts, and can be likened to a negative inner-speech. Worry is concerned with the possibility of threats in the future and ways to effectively avoid or deal with them whilst rumination is concerned more with things that happened in the past.” – MCT Institute

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving the physical and psychological condition of otherwise healthy people and also treating the physical and psychological issues of people with illnesses. Techniques such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be particularly effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

Worry (concern about the future) and rumination (repetitive thinking about the past) are associated with mental illness. One way they may do this is by disrupting the development of mindfulness. In today’s Research News article “Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/ ), Banerjee and colleagues had adult volunteers participate in a 2-week, once a day, online Mindfulness-based self-help program. They were measured before and after the program for mindfulness, including the observe, describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting facets, rumination, worry, beliefs about rumination, beliefs about worry, physical engagement, and psychological engagement. The measures were intercorrelated and their relationships were assessed with a path analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both rumination and worry, the lower the levels of physical and psychological engagement in the mindfulness program. The path models revealed that rumination and worry were associated with reduced physical and psychological engagement in the program and these were, in turn, associated with reductions in four of the mindfulness facets of describe, acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that the individual’s levels of worry and rumination before engaging in mindfulness training tend to interfere with the development of mindfulness. They appear to do so by interfering with the individual’s engagement in the program, that is by promoting disengagement. It should be kept in mind that these findings are correlational, so no conclusions about causation are warranted. But, the results suggest that training in mindfulness should take into consideration the psychological state of the participant at the beginning of the program. Perhaps, programs can be tailored for the participants state taking into consideration their levels of worry and rumination. They may, thereby, be more effective in promoting mindfulness and all of its benefits.

 

repeated practice in noticing, observing with curiosity and compassion, and shifting perspective helps participants to realise that their thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts, emotions and sensations, rather than ‘truth’ or ‘me’. They learn to see more clearly the patterns of the mind, and to recognise when mood is beginning to dip without adding to the problem by falling into analysis and rumination – to stand on the edge of the whirlpool and watch it go round, rather than disappearing into it.” – B. J. Bidushi

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Banerjee, M., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2018). Barriers to Mindfulness: a Path Analytic Model Exploring the Role of Rumination and Worry in Predicting Psychological and Physical Engagement in an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Mindfulness, 9(3), 980–992. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0837-4

 

Abstract

Little is known about the factors associated with engagement in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Moreover, engagement in MBIs is usually defined in terms of class attendance (‘physical engagement’) only. However, in the psychotherapy literature, there is increasing emphasis on measuring participants’ involvement with interventions (‘psychological engagement’). This study tests a model that rumination and worry act as barriers to physical and psychological engagement in MBIs and that this in turn impedes learning mindfulness. One hundred and twenty-four participants were given access to a 2-week online mindfulness-based self-help (MBSH) intervention. Self-report measures of mindfulness, rumination, worry, positive beliefs about rumination, positive beliefs about worry and physical and psychological engagement were administered. A path analysis was used to test the linear relationships between the variables. Physical and psychological engagement were identified as two distinct constructs. Findings were that rumination and worry both predicted psychological disengagement in MBSH. Psychological engagement predicted change in the describe, act with awareness, non-judge and non-react facets of mindfulness while physical engagement only predicted changes in the non-react facet of mindfulness. Thus, rumination and worry may increase risk of psychological disengagement from MBSH which may in turn hinder cultivating mindfulness. Future suggestions for practice are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968050/

 

Improve Student Mental Health with a Mindfulness App

Improve Student Mental Health with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Students who had been practising mindfulness had distress scores lower than their baseline levels even during exam time, which suggests that mindfulness helps build resilience against stress.” – Julieta Galante

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. Where a high school education was sufficient in previous generations, a college degree is now required to succeed in the new knowledge-based economies. There is a lot of pressure on students to excel so that they can be admitted to the best universities and there is a lot of pressure on university students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. As a result, parents and students are constantly looking for ways to improve student performance in school.

 

The primary tactic has been to pressure the student and clear away routine tasks and chores so that the student can focus on their studies. But, this might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede performance. A better tactic may be the development of mindfulness skills with contemplative practices. These practices and high levels of mindfulness have been shown to be helpful in coping with the school environment and for the performance of both students and teachers. So, perhaps, mindfulness training may provide the needed edge in college academic performance.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many students and counseling centers can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Smartphone Apps have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps.

 

In today’s Research News article “Evaluation of an mHealth App (DeStressify) on University Students’ Mental Health: Pilot Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801522/ ), Lee and Jung recruited university students and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list condition or to work with a mindfulness app (DeStressify) for a month, 5 days per week for 3 to 20 minutes per day. They were measured before and after the training period for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, sleep quality, health-related quality of life, work productivity, and app use.

 

They found that after mindfulness app training the students reported significant reductions in perceived stress, fatigue, and anxiety and significant increases in general health-related quality of life, energy, and productivity. A lack in the study was that mindfulness was not measured. So, it cannot be concluded that improvements in mindfulness produced by the App was responsible for the benefits. Nevertheless, these are interesting and potentially important results. They suggest that the use of a mindfulness app by university students can provide improvements in physical and mental health and productivity. This can be important for the students’ success in school by making them more energetic and healthy and with less emotional disruption.

 

This is particularly important as the app does not require expensive staff time. It can be used at the busy students’ convenience in both location and time. And it is very easy and inexpensive to use and can be distributed widely. Given the mindfulness app can also improve the students’ well-being, it would seem ideal for use by college students.

 

So, improve student mental health with a mindfulness App.

 

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth Hoge

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lee, R. A., & Jung, M. E. (2018). Evaluation of an mHealth App (DeStressify) on University Students’ Mental Health: Pilot Trial. JMIR Mental Health, 5(1), e2. http://doi.org/10.2196/mental.8324

 

Abstract

Background

One in five Canadians experience mental health issues with those in the age range of 15 to 24 years being most at risk of a mood disorder. University students have shown significantly higher rates of mental health problems than the general public. Current university support services are limited by factors such as available staff and finances, and social stigma has frequently been identified as an additional barrier that prevents students from accessing these resources. Mobile health (mHealth) apps are one form of alternative health support that is discrete and accessible to students, and although they are recognized as a promising alternative, there is limited research demonstrating their efficacy.

Objective

The aim of this study was to evaluate a mindfulness-based app’s (“DeStressify”) efficacy on stress, anxiety, depressive symptomology, sleep behavior, work or class absenteeism, work or school productivity, and quality of life (QoL) among university students.

Methods

Full-time undergraduate students at a Canadian university with smartphones and Internet access were recruited through in-class announcements and on-campus posters. Participants randomized into an experimental condition were given and instructed to use the DeStressify app 5 days a week for 4 weeks. Control condition participants were wait-listed. All participants completed pre- and postintervention Web-based surveys to self-assess stress, anxiety, depressive symptomatology, sleep quality, and health-related QoL.

Results

A total of 206 responses were collected at baseline, with 163 participants completing the study (86 control, 77 experimental). Using DeStressify was shown to reduce trait anxiety (P=.01) and improve general health (P=.001), energy (P=.01), and emotional well-being (P=.01) in university students, and more participants in the experimental condition believed their productivity improved between baseline and postintervention measurements than the number of participants expected to believe so randomly by chance (P=.01). The app did not significantly improve stress, state anxiety, physical and social functioning, and role limitations because of physical or emotional health problems or pain (P>.05).

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based apps may provide an effective alternative support for university students’ mental health. Universities and other institutions may benefit from promoting the use of DeStressify or other mindfulness-based mHealth apps among students who are interested in methods of anxiety management or mindfulness-based self-driven health support. Future steps include examining DeStressify and similar mHealth apps over a longer period and in university staff and faculty.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801522/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Smartphone Aps

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Smartphone Aps

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With apps reaching more people than face-to-face teaching can, he says, “nothing will influence how mindfulness is perceived and practised in our culture more in the next 20 years”. – Amy Fleming

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, Apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these Apps in inducing mindfulness and improving psychological health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Mobile Application: a Randomized Waiting-List Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770479/ ), van Emmerik and colleagues recruited adults who had an interest in mindfulness and spirituality through social media and randomly assigned them to either a mindfulness App group or a wait-list control group.

 

The mindfulness App participants were directed to download from the App Store of Google Play Store the VGZ Mindfulness Coach App and complete the 5-week program consisting of 25 exercises including “breathing exercises, attention exercises, body scan exercises, guided meditation exercises, visualization exercises, mantra exercises, and yoga exercises.” The participants were measured before the program and 8 and 20 weeks later for mindfulness, including the observing, describing, non-reacting, non-judging, and acting with awareness facets, quality of life, including physical health, psychological health, social relationships and environment, psychiatric symptomology, self-actualization, and satisfaction with the App.

 

They found that the App produced large significant increases in mindfulness including all five facets, psychological health, social relationships and environment, and decreases in psychiatric symptomology. In addition, the participants reported a high degree of satisfaction and engagement with the App. Hence, the mindfulness App group evidenced marked improvement in mindfulness and psychological health.

 

The results need to be interpreted with caution as the study did not contain an active control condition. This leaves open the possibility that the results were affected by biases such as placebo effects, demand characteristics, experimenter bias, etc. Nevertheless, with these caveats in mind, the results suggest that mindfulness can be increased with a smartphone app which may, in turn, improve psychological health in otherwise healthy individuals. This is exciting as the low cost, convenience, and ease of use, of such Apps allows for widespread applicability. This may provide a low-cost means of improving the mindfulness and psychological health of large swaths of the general population.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness smartphone Aps.

 

“Every app uses varying voices, work flow styles, and types of guided meditation. . . At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you feel drawn to practice everyday.” – Marylyn Wei

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Arnold A. P. van Emmerik, Fieke Berings, Jaap Lancee. Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Mobile Application: a Randomized Waiting-List Controlled Trial. Mindfulness (N Y) 2018; 9(1): 187–198. Published online 2017 Jun 21. doi: 10.1007/s12671-017-0761-7

 

Abstract

Although several hundreds of apps are available that (cl)aim to promote mindfulness, only a few methodologically sound studies have evaluated the efficacy of these apps. This randomized waiting-list controlled trial therefore tested the hypothesis that one such app (the VGZ Mindfulness Coach) can achieve immediate and long-term improvements of mindfulness, quality of life, general psychiatric symptoms, and self-actualization. One hundred ninety-one experimental participants received the VGZ Mindfulness Coach, which offers 40 mindfulness exercises and background information about mindfulness without any form of therapeutic guidance. Compared to 186 control participants, they reported large (Cohen’s d = 0.77) and statistically significant increases of mindfulness after 8 weeks and small-to-medium increases of the Observing, Describing, Acting with awareness, Nonjudging, and Nonreactivity mindfulness facets as measured with the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (Cohen’s d = 0.66, 0.26, 0.49, 0.34, and 0.43, respectively). Also, there were large decreases of general psychiatric symptoms (GHQ-12; Cohen’s d = −0.68) and moderate increases of psychological, social, and environmental quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF; Cohen’s d = 0.38, 0.38, and 0.36, respectively). Except for social quality of life, these gains were maintained for at least 3 months. We conclude that it is possible to achieve durable positive effects on mindfulness, general psychiatric symptoms, and several aspects of quality of life at low costs with smartphone apps for mindfulness such as the VGZ Mindfulness Coach.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770479/

Treat Physical Health Conditions with Mindfulness

Treat Physical Health Conditions with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A growing body of research now links the Eastern practice to improved conditions for serious ailments, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. How? By “treating the whole person… so they can live in greater health and joy.” – Shauna Shapiro

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, on-line mindfulness training programs have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But, the question arises as to the effectiveness of these programs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for People With Physical Health Conditions: Systematic Review.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599726/, Toivonen and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness on on-line mindfulness training programs on the psychological and physical symptoms of chronic diseases. They report on 16 published studies.

 

They found that studies of on-line mindfulness training for the treatment of chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, demonstrated significant effectiveness for pain coping and the psychological symptoms produced by chronic pain. But, the evidence was inconclusive regarding alterations of experienced pain. Studies of heart disease treatment with on-line mindfulness trainings demonstrated small improvements relative to usual care in exercise tolerance, heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and stress. Studies of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the symptoms, quality of life, and psychological distress produced by IBS. Studies of epilepsy demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the depression accompanying epilepsy. Studies of Tinnitus demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for Tinnitus severity, depression, anxiety and perceived stress accompanying Tinnitus. Studies of acquired brain injury demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the mental fatigue accompanying acquired brain injury. Studies of cancer survivors demonstrated significant effectiveness of on-line mindfulness trainings for the fatigue, depressed mood, and psychological distress accompanying cancer survival.

 

The published studies found that it did not make a significant difference if the on-line mindfulness training occurred through immediate interaction or with continuously available resources or whether there was an active facilitator or not. Hence, on-line training did not require active participation by a therapist. Effectiveness was present regardless. The materials and not the format or the therapist was important.

 

These are important and exciting results that demonstrate the effectiveness of on-line mindfulness training for the treatment of chronic diseases. Thus, mindfulness trainings can be implemented with high cost-effectiveness, to large numbers of people, without the necessity of a therapist’s involvement, and without the requirement for attendance at particular locations. The results suggest that mindfulness practices can be provided widely and inexpensively to relieve at least some of the suffering produced by a wide variety of chronic diseases.

 

Other research has looked broadly at use of mindfulness-based group therapy compared to individual cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with various conditions including depression, anxiety and stress and adjustment disorders. They found that the mindfulness group therapy as effective as the individual therapy.” – American Psychiatric Association

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Toivonen, K. I., Zernicke, K., & Carlson, L. E. (2017). Web-Based Mindfulness Interventions for People With Physical Health Conditions: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(8), e303. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7487

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are becoming increasingly popular for helping people with physical health conditions. Expanding from traditional face-to-face program delivery, there is growing interest in Web-based application of MBIs, though Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions specifically have not been thoroughly reviewed to date.

Objective

The objective of this paper was to review Web-based MBIs for people with physical health conditions and to examine all outcomes reported (eg, efficacy or effectiveness for physical changes or psychological changes; feasibility).

Methods

Databases PubMed, PsycINFO, Science Direct, CINAHL Plus, and Web of Science were searched. Full-text English papers that described any Web-based MBI, examining any outcome, for people with chronic physical health conditions were included. Randomized, nonrandomized, controlled, and uncontrolled trials were all included. Extracted data included intervention characteristics, population characteristics, outcomes, and quality indicators. Intervention characteristics (eg, synchronicity and guidance) were examined as potential factors related to study outcomes.

Results

Of 435 publications screened, 19 published papers describing 16 studies were included. They examined Web-based MBIs for people with cancer, chronic pain or fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), epilepsy, heart disease, tinnitus, and acquired brain injury. Overall, most studies reported positive effects of Web-based MBIs compared with usual care on a variety of outcomes including pain acceptance, coping measures, and depressive symptoms. There were mixed results regarding the effectiveness of Web-based MBIs compared with active control treatment conditions such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Condition-specific symptoms (eg, cancer-related fatigue and IBS symptoms) targeted by treatment had the largest effect size improvements following MBIs. Results are inconclusive regarding physical variables.

Conclusions

Preliminary evidence suggests that Web-based MBIs may be helpful in alleviating symptom burden that those with physical health conditions can experience, particularly when interventions are tailored for specific symptoms. There was no evidence of differences between synchronous versus asynchronous or facilitated versus self-directed Web-based MBIs. Future investigations of Web-based MBIs should evaluate the effects of program adherence, effects on mindfulness levels, and whether synchronous or asynchronous, or facilitated or self-directed interventions elicit greater improvements.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5599726/

Reduce General Practitioner Burnout with On-Line Mindfulness

Reduce General Practitioner Burnout with On-Line Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness practice — the cultivation of a focused awareness on the present moment — can improve physicians’ performance by not only preventing burnout, but also by helping them better connect with their patients.”Carolyn Gregoire

 

“General Practitioners confront stress on a daily basis. Even moderate levels of stress when prolonged, all too frequently results in a professional burnout. This is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. Healthcare is a high stress occupation. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to the healthcare providers and their patients. In fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses. Hence, preventing existing healthcare workers from burning out has to be a priority.

 

Mindfulness has been demonstrated to be helpful in coping with stress and in treating and preventing burnout. But, General Practitioners (GPs) are pressed for time and it is difficult for them to commit the time to mindfulness training on a schedule at a therapist’s location. Mindfulness training over the internet is an alternative training for people who find face-to-face training difficult and inconvenient. Online mindfulness training has shown great promise with effectiveness equivalent to face-to-face training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of a Blended Web-Based Mindfulness Programme for General Practitioners: a Pilot Study.” (See summary below). Montero-Marin and colleagues recruited General Practitioners and provided them with on-line mindfulness training with both audio and video instruction in 45-minute sessions occurring twice a week for 4 weeks. Before and after training the GPs were measured for mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, resilience, and burnout.

 

They separated the GPs according to their participation rates into completers who completed two or more practices per week and non-completers who completed on average less than one practice per week. They found that the completers in contrast to the non-completers had significant increases in mindfulness and positive emotions. They also found that the amount of practice had a direct effect on positive emotions and also and indirect effect by increasing mindfulness which in turn increases positive emotions.

 

Hence, on-line mindfulness training appeared to enhance mindfulness and positive feelings in those GPs who completed the provided practices. To some extent the results were disappointing as there were a large proportion of the GPs who did not complete the program’s practice requirements (approximately 80% of those recruited). This could be due to the busy schedules of the GPs or that the program was not sufficiently engaging to motivate participation. In addition, there were no significant effects of the practice on negative emotions, resilience, or burnout. This may be due to the relatively small amount of practice. Perhaps a longer duration program might have more positive effects. Indeed, previous research has shown significant reductions in GP burnout with 8 weeks of in-person mindfulness training. Hence, it is possible that the program in the present study needs to be longer. It is also possible that on-line presentation is not effective for GP burnout.

 

The program, when completed, did produce greater mindfulness and positive emotions. So, there is reason to believe that it may be effective. This suggests that a modified more engaging and longer program should be developed and tested in a randomized controlled trial as an effective treatment for GPO burnout is sorely needed.

 

“When I talk or listen to peers and colleagues, I am amazed at how many healthcare professionals are already integrating mindfulness, meditation or relaxation techniques into their lives on a regular basis in order to ground themselves and find headspace and calm.” – Jon Kabat-Zin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Montero-Marin, J., Gaete, J., Araya, R. et al. Impact of a Blended Web-Based Mindfulness Programme for General Practitioners: a Pilot Study. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0752-8

 

Abstract

General practitioners (GPs) report high levels of distress. This study examined whether a brief blended web-based mindfulness intervention could be effective at enhancing well-being for GPs and assessed the possible mediating role of awareness. An open uncontrolled trial, with pre-post measurements, was conducted. The programme comprised one face-to-face meeting (4 h) and eight online practice sessions with no support (two weekly sessions over 4 weeks). The primary outcome was positive affect (PANAS-positive). The secondary outcomes were as follows: negative affect (PANAS-negative), awareness (MAAS), resilience (CDRISC), and the burnout subtypes (BCSQ-12). Mixed-effects analysis for repeated measures and mediation analysis by regression models were performed. Two hundred ninety Spanish GPs took part in the study, attending the face-to-face meeting. Nearly one out 10 participants (n = 28) completed ‘one weekly practice’, and 10.4% (n = 30) accomplished ‘two or more weekly practices’. There were benefits for those with ‘two or more weekly practices’ in PANAS-positive (B = 2.97; p = 0.007), and MAAS (B = 4.65; p = 0.023). We found no benefits for those with ‘one weekly practice’ in any of the outcomes. There were mediating effects of MAAS in PANAS-positive (explaining a 60.8% of total effects). A brief blended mindfulness intervention, with minimum face-to-face contact and web-based practice sessions, seems to confer improvements in the well-being of Spanish GPs. The benefits may be mediated by awareness. The implementation of this kind of programme might enhance the well-being among GPs, but there is a need to improve adherence to practice. Further research using randomized controlled designs will be needed to support the evidence found in our study.

Reduce Stress with Preventative On-line Mindfulness Training

Reduce Stress with Preventative On-line Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness not only reduces stress but also gently builds an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness and physical well-being.” – Shamash Alidina

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with the physical and psychological reactions to stress. Techniques such as Mindfulness Training, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as well as Yoga practice and Tai Chi or Qigong practice have been demonstrated to be effective. This has led to an increasing adoption of these mindfulness techniques for the health and well-being of both healthy and ill individuals.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a certified trained therapist. This produces costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules. As a result, there has been attempts to develop on-line mindfulness training programs. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs and making training schedules much more flexible. But, the question arises as to whether these programs are as effective as their traditional counterparts.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of preventive online mindfulness interventions on stress and mindfulness: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5199155/, Jayawardene and colleagues reviewed and conducted a meta-analysis of the published research literature on the effectiveness of preventative mindfulness training on-line with normal, non-clinical, individuals for the relief of stress effects. They found 8 published randomized controlled trials. Most used modifications of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and lasted from 2 to 12 weeks. MBSR includes body scan, meditation, and yoga practices.

 

They found that the published studies report significant reductions in perceived stress of moderate effect sizes and increases of mindfulness of small effect sizes following mindfulness training in comparison to baseline and control conditions. These effects persisted up to several months after the end of training. They also found that the older the participant the larger the reduction in perceived stress produced by mindfulness training.

 

These results are significant but not unexpected as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed specifically to target perceived stress. What is significant is that this effectiveness occurs even when the training occurs strictly over the internet and with normal, non-clinical, populations. This is important as it suggests that inexpensive mindfulness training can be offered to widespread audiences. In addition, online training is convenient for the participants, as they do not have to go to a practitioners site on a particular schedule. This, in turn, allows for the application of mindfulness training for the prevention and treatment of psychological and physical disorders with busy people, low income people, and even people in remote locations, thus greatly expanding the numbers of people who can benefit.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. The present findings are exciting in that they suggest that mindfulness training can occur inexpensively to disparate populations. The on-line mindfulness training may then, by reducing stress effects in normal people, act to prevent the many physical and psychological problems that result from chronic stress, improving their health and well-being.

 

So, reduce stress with preventative on-line mindfulness training.

 

“These are difficult times right now for a lot of people. Learning to become more “present,” frees us to be more flexible and creative – and ultimately, more resilient, enjoying better health and well-being.’”– Elisha Goldstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jayawardene, W. P., Lohrmann, D. K., Erbe, R. G., & Torabi, M. R. (2017). Effects of preventive online mindfulness interventions on stress and mindfulness: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Preventive Medicine Reports, 5, 150–159. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.013

 

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggested that mind-body interventions can be effectively delivered online. This study aimed to examine whether preventive online mindfulness interventions (POMI) for non-clinical populations improve short- and long-term outcomes for perceived-stress (primary) and mindfulness (secondary). Systematic search of four electronic databases, manuscript reference lists, and journal content lists was conducted in 2016, using 21 search-terms. Eight randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating effects of POMI in non-clinical populations with adequately reported perceived-stress and mindfulness measures pre- and post-intervention were included. Random-effects models utilized for all effect-size estimations with meta-regression performed for mean age and %females. Participants were volunteers (adults; predominantly female) from academic, workplace, or community settings. Most interventions utilized simplified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction protocols over 2–12 week periods. Post-intervention, significant medium effect found for perceived-stress (g = 0.432), with moderate heterogeneity and significant, but small, effect size for mindfulness (g = 0.275) with low heterogeneity; highest effects were for middle-aged individuals. At follow-up, significant large effect found for perceived-stress (g = 0.699) with low heterogeneity and significant medium effect (g = 0.466) for mindfulness with high heterogeneity. No publication bias was found for perceived-stress; publication bias found for mindfulness outcomes led to underestimation of effects, not

studies. POMI had substantial stress reduction effects and some mindfulness improvement effects. POMI can be a more convenient and cost-effective strategy, compared to traditional face-to-face interventions, especially in the context of busy, hard-to-reach, but digitally-accessible populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5199155/