Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Mindfulness

Relieve Anxiety Disorders with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety is to be fully, mindfully, anxious. As anxiety reveals itself to be a misperception, symptoms will dissipate.” – George Hofmann

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. A characterizing feature of anxiety disorders is that the sufferer overly identifies with and personalizes their thoughts. The sufferer has recurring thoughts, such as impending disaster, that they may realize are unreasonable, but are unable to shake. Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders.

 

In today’s Research News article “Participant experiences of change in mindfulness-based stress reduction for anxiety disorders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482889/ ) Schanche and colleagues examine the patients’ experiences with a Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) program for the relief of clinically significant anxiety. They recruited adult patients diagnosed with either panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder and provided them with an 8-week group MBSR program including weekly instruction and discussions of meditation, body scan, and yoga along with daily home practice. After the completion of the program the participants were interviewed and asked about “their backgrounds and what made them sign up for the course, their experience of participating in the program, and changes that might have occurred in their life during or after the course.” The transcribed interviews were analyzed “using a team-based explorative–reflective thematic analysis”.

 

Theparticipants’ interviews yielded 5 themes. The participants indicated that the Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) program provided them with useful strategies to apply when anxiety arose, the ability to let go of negative, self-critical, or ruminative thinking, more bodily comfort and less distress and anxiety, ability to do things that their anxiety previously prevented them from doing, increased ability to engage in relationships with others, and the ability to pause when things became difficult. They indicated that the MBSR program helped with their anxiety but the anxiety was still there and they had more work to do.

 

It has been well established that mindfulness training is effective for anxiety disorders. The present qualitative analysis begins to explore the participants perceptions of benefits from the program toward dealing with their anxiety. It should be mentioned that these are subjective responses and there wasn’t a control condition. So, bias and demand characteristics could have driven some of the responses. But the study underscores some of the perceived skills obtained in Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) training that they found useful in coping with anxiety. This could help in altering the program to maximize its effectiveness.

 

So, relieve anxiety disorders with mindfulness.

 

For the 6.8 million Americans who live with chronic daily anxiety, meditation can offer a way to finally relax.” – Megan Monohan

 

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

 

Schanche, E., Vøllestad, J., Binder, P. E., Hjeltnes, A., Dundas, I., & Nielsen, G. H. (2020). Participant experiences of change in mindfulness-based stress reduction for anxiety disorders. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being, 15(1), 1776094. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2020.1776094

 

ABSTRACT

Aim

To explore experiences of change among participants in a randomized clinical trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for anxiety disorders.

Method

Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the subjective experiences of change for individuals with anxiety disorders after a course in MBSR. Interviews were analysed employing hermeneutic-phenomenological thematic analysis.

Results

Five main themes were identified: 1) Something useful to do when anxiety appears, 2) Feeling more at ease, 3) Doing things my anxiety wouldn’t let me, 4) Meeting what is there, and 5) Better—but not there yet. Most participants used what they had learned for instrumental purposes, and described relief from anxiety and an increased sense of personal agency. A few reported more radical acceptance of anxiety, as well as increased self-compassion.

Conclusion

Participants of MBSR both describe mindfulness as a tool to “fix” anxiety and as bringing about more fundamental change towards acceptance of their anxiety. The complexity of reported change corresponds with better handling of areas representing known transdiagnostic features of anxiety disorder, such as dysfunctional cognitive processes (including attentional biases), emotional dysregulation, avoidance behaviours, and maladaptive self-relatedness. This supports MBSR as a transdiagnostic approach to the treatment of anxiety disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7482889/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The front lines for health care providers may feel overwhelming. . . turning to mindfulness practice can help us settle, help us get out of all that thinking for a moment. We can try to settle down and maybe give ourselves a little rest or see a situation with a little different clarity. “ – Mindful

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing the negative psychological consequences of stress in healthcare professionals has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training program that was developed to help deal with stress. MBSR  consists of discussion, meditation, yoga and body scan practices. The evidence has been accumulating regarding MBSR’s effectiveness for the treatment of healthcare professionals, so it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/ ) Kriakous and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the psychological health of healthcare workers. They identified 30 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) significantly reduced healthcare workers’ levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increased mindfulness and self-compassion. Mindfulness practices have been previously reported to decrease perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increase self-compassion in a wide variety of healthy and ill individuals. The present research summarizes these benefits for stressed healthcare professionals. These benefits of mindfulness training are important for reducing burnout, improving the psychological health of healthcare workers, and maintaining the workforce, and thereby improving the levels of care delivered to patients.

 

So, improve the psychological health of health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care workforce. There is increasing evidence that learning to practice mindfulness can result in decreased burnout and improved well-being. Mindfulness is a useful way of cultivating self-kindness and compassion, including by bringing increased awareness to and acceptance of those things that are beyond our control.” – Kate Fitzpatrick

 

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

 

Kriakous, S. A., Elliott, K. A., Lamers, C., & Owen, R. (2020). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review. Mindfulness, 1–28. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01500-9

 

Abstract

Objectives

Burnout and occupational stress are frequently experienced by healthcare professionals (HCPs). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve the psychological health outcomes of HCPs. To date, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have primarily focused upon empirical investigations into the reduction of stress amongst HCPs using MBSR and are limited to empirical studies published before December 2019. This systematic review aimed to update the current evidence base and broaden our understanding of the effectiveness of MBSR on improving the psychological functioning of HCPs.

Methods

Three electronic databases (Medline, Psych Info and Web of Science) were searched without time frame restrictions. Quantitative studies included randomised controlled trials, clinical controlled trials, pre-post designs and studies with up to a 12-month follow-up period. All studies included in the review employed a MBSR programme, standardised measures of psychological functioning and qualified HCPs as participants.

Results

Using PRISMA guidelines thirty studies were included in the review. The reviewed literature suggested that MBSR was effective in reducing HCPs experiences of anxiety, depression and stress. MBSR was also found to be effective in increasing HCP levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. However, MBSR did not appear as effective in reducing burnout or improving resilience amongst HCPs. Abbreviated MBSR programmes were found to be as effective as the traditional 8-week MBSR programmes.

Conclusions

MBSR is an effective intervention which can help improve the psychological functioning of HCPs. Recommendations include improving the overall quality of the studies by employing more robust controlled designs with randomisation, increased sample sizes with heterogeneous samples, and making active comparisons between interventions used.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/

 

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being, Sleep, and Performance in College Athletes with Mindfulness.

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

How much time do you spend training your body, getting to peak performance?  With mindfulness training you can now train your mind. Learn how to focus more effectively, worry less, be more present and increase your ability to respond and react quickly.” – Blair Bowker

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Jones and colleagues recruited women members of a college rowing team and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive 8 weekly 75 minutes group sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This training includes meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussion with daily home practice. They were measured before and after training for athletic coping skills, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mindfulness, sleepiness, sleep quality, activity during sleep, rumination, and psychological well-being. They were also measured before the treatment and 6 weeks into the 8-week program for rowing performance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training there were significant increases in mindfulness, psychological well-being, sleep quality, activity during sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance and significant decreases in daytime sleepiness. In addition, they report that the greater the increase in mindfulness the greater the increase in psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills and the greater the decrease in daytime sleepiness.

 

These are interesting results suggesting that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. But the comparison to a no-treatment condition leaves open alternative interpretations of participant expectancy effects, experimenter bias, attentional effects, etc. In addition, only female athletes were included in the study. Future research should include male athletes and employ an active control comparison condition such as group discussions of college life without mindfulness training.

 

The results from  previous studies have demonstrated that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being and athletic performance in athletes. So, it is likely that the improvements seen in the present study were also due to the mindfulness training. In addition, the fact that in the group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training that the amount of increase in mindfulness was associated with the degree of improvement in the psychological well-being and athletic performance, suggests that mindfulness was the key determinant of the improvements. So, it would appear likely that increasing mindfulness is of great benefit to athletes.

 

So, improve psychological well-being, sleep, and performance in college athletes with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness meditation for athletes can help them control negative thoughts and sports anxiety which allows them to focus on their skills in the present moment and perform better.’ – Ertheo

 

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

 

Jones BJ, Kaur S, Miller M and Spencer RMC (2020) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Benefits Psychological Well-Being, Sleep Quality, and Athletic Performance in Female Collegiate Rowers. Front. Psychol. 11:572980. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980

 

Factors such as psychological well-being, sleep quality, and athletic coping skills can influence athletic performance. Mindfulness-based interventions, including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), have been shown to benefit these factors, suggesting they may, at least indirectly, benefit athletic performance. Moreover, while mindfulness training has been linked to better accuracy in some high-precision sports, whether it can improve non-precision elements of athletic performance is unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of MBSR on psychological well-being, sleep, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance in collegiate rowers in a controlled experimental design. Members of a Division I NCAA Women’s Rowing team completed either an 8-week MBSR course along with their regular athletic training program (Intervention group) or the athletic training program alone (Control group). Measurements of interest were taken at baseline and again either during or shortly following the intervention. In contrast to the Control group, the Intervention group showed improvements in psychological well-being, subjective and objective sleep quality, athletic coping skills, and rowing performance as measured by a 6,000-m ergometer test. Improvements in athletic coping skills, psychological well-being, and subjective sleep quality were all correlated with increases in mindfulness in the Intervention group. These results suggest that mindfulness training may benefit non-precision aspects of athletic performance. Incorporating mindfulness training into athletic training programs may benefit quality of life and performance in student athletes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572980/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Meditation and Exercise Practices can be Maintained Long-Term after Training Completion

Meditation and Exercise Practices can be Maintained Long-Term after Training Completion

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Maintaining your meditation practice after the course has finished is often a struggle. Without the structure of a follow-on course it’s easy to lose track, stop practising and get down-hearted and even give up.”

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits. With impacts so great it is important to know how to maintain mindfulness practice over the long run.

 

Exercise can also improve emotions and their regulation.  But like mindfulness training it must be sustained over time. It is unclear, however, exactly what kind of training is essential to produce a sustainable mindfulness or exercise practice. People can differ greatly and it is also important to determine which people are most likely to sustain practice and which not.

 

In today’s Research News article “Predictors of Mindfulness Meditation and Exercise Practice, from MEPARI-2, a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959135/ ) Barrett and colleagues recruited meditation naïve, non-exercising adults who have had at least one cold per year. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weeks of training in either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or progressive moderate intensity exercise. MBSR was taught in 8 weekly, 2.5 hour, sessions and employed discussion, breath following and body scan meditations, and yoga. progressive moderate intensity exercise was taught in weekly classes and was tailored to the individual employing a combination of walking, jogging, cycling, and exercise machines. Each program incorporated 20-45 minutes of daily practice. They were measured before and after training and every 2 months thereafter for a year for physical activity, mental and physical health, perceived stress, depression, exercise self-efficacy, mindful self-efficacy, positive and negative emotions, mindfulness, feeling loved, social support, and the big 5 personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Throughout the program the participants reported their daily practice minutes.

 

They found that meditation in the meditation group and exercise in the exercise group was high after training and remained high over the subsequent 13 weeks. They also found that the higher the baseline measures of mental health, smoking, and the personality characteristic of openness and the lower the levels of depression, the greater the weekly average minutes of meditation practice. In addition, the higher the baseline measures of exercise, mindful self-efficacy, and overall physical activity and the lower the levels of perceived stress and neuroticism, the greater the weekly average minutes of exercise practice.

 

These results are remarkable and potentially important in that they demonstrated that meditation practice and exercise practice can be maintained over extended periods time after the completion of training. The authors speculate that the daily reports of practice may have contributed to the maintenance of practice. Maintenance of practice is important to maintain benefits. So, this suggests that with appropriate training and reporting, the benefits of meditation and exercise can be sustained.

 

It would appear that participant characteristics affected the likelihood of practice maintenance. For meditation participants who were smokers, had good mental health, had personalities characterized by openness and were low in depression were likely to maintain high levels of meditation practice while participants who at the beginning were exercisers with high self-efficacy and who were less stressed and neurotic were likely to maintain high levels of exercise practice.

 

So, meditation and exercise practices can be maintained long-term after training completion.

 

Meditation reveals its gifts when practiced consistently and preferably daily. Our beings need to be conditioned spiritually much like fitness.” – Andrew Shykofski

 

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

 

Barrett, B., Torres, E. R., Meyer, J., Barnet, J. H., & Brown, R. (2019). Predictors of Mindfulness Meditation and Exercise Practice, from MEPARI-2, a randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness, 10(9), 1842–1854. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01137-3

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Health-supporting behaviors can be challenging to initiate and maintain. Data from the MEPARI-2 randomized trial were used to assess predictors of sustained exercise and meditation practice.

Methods:

Adults aged 30 to 69 years not exercising regularly and without prior meditation training were randomized to 8-week trainings in mindfulness meditation, moderate intensity exercise, or observational control, and monitored for 8 months. Exercise participants reported day-to-day minutes of moderate and vigorous activity; mindfulness meditation participants reported minutes of informal and formal practice. Demographic characteristics and psychosocial factors were assessed as predictors of practice. Growth mixture modeling was used to identify higher and lower practice subgroups.

Results:

413 participants (75.8% female; mean (SD) age 49.7 (11.6) years) were randomized to exercise (137), mindfulness meditation (138), or control (138), with 390 (95%) completing the study. Seventy-nine percent of exercisers and 62% of meditators reported ≥150 minutes/week practice for at least half of the 37 weeks monitored. Self-reported minutes of mindfulness meditation and/or exercise practice were significantly (p<0.01) predicted by baseline levels of: general mental health, self-efficacy, perceived stress, depressive symptoms, openness, neuroticism, physical activity, smoking status, and number of social contacts. Growth mixture modeling identified subsets of people with moderate (100–200 min/week) and high (300–450 min/week) levels of self-reported practice for both mindfulness meditation (62% moderate; 38% high) and exercise (71% moderate; 29% high).

Conclusions:

In this sample, participants randomized to behavioral trainings reported high levels of practice sustained over 37 weeks. Baseline psychosocial measures predicted practice levels in expected directions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959135/

 

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

Improve Inflammation and Depression with Mild Cognitive Impairment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adults with mild cognitive impairment who practice mindfulness meditation could experience a boost in cognitive reserve.” – Monica Beyer

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue.

 

Intervening early in patients with mild cognitive impairment may be able to delay or even prevent full blown dementia. So, it is important to study the effectiveness of mindfulness training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their psychological and physical well-being and cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/ ) Marciniak and colleagues recruited older adults, over 55 years of age, who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 2.5-hour sessions of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or to cognitive training. Weekly training was accompanied by daily home practice. MBSR consisted in training of body scan, sitting meditation, mindful movement, working with difficulties, meditation with imagination, and discussion. Cognitive training focused on specific cognitive domains including memory, attention, and logical thinking. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for cognitive functions, anxiety, depression and spiritual well-being. Blood was drawn before and after training and assayed for immune system cells.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the cognitive training group, the participants who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training had significantly lower depression levels both after training and 6 months later. The MBSR group also had improvements in psychomotor speed and significant decreases in resting monocyte activation immediately after training.

 

These are somewhat disappointing results as neither Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or cognitive training produced significant improvements in cognitive function. The study was rather small, however, with only 12 and 9 participants in the groups respectively. statistical power was lacking to detect differences. These results suggest that large changes in cognitive abilities are not produced in these patients by either MBSR or cognitive training.

 

Nevertheless, MBSR training did significantly improve depression in these elderly with mild cognitive impairment. MBSR has been shown to improve depression in a variety of different types of healthy and sick individuals. So, this result is not surprising but important as depression is a serious problem in the elderly, especially those with diminished cognitive capacity and that depression can produce further physical and psychological deterioration in the patients.

 

Importantly, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) appears to reduce immune monocyte activation. This suggests that MBSR may reduce inflammation. It has been previously shown to reduce inflammation in other groups. This is potentially important in that levels of inflammation are generally high in patients with mild cognitive impairment and chronic inflammation is a threat to the health and well-being of these patients. Reducing it with MBSR training may have long-term consequences for improved health in elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment.

 

So, improve inflammation and depression with mild cognitive impairment with mindfulness.

 

A mindfulness intervention reduces inflammatory biomarkers that are associated with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.” – Eric Dolan

 

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

 

Marciniak, R., Šumec, R., Vyhnálek, M., Bendíčková, K., Lázničková, P., Forte, G., Jeleník, A., Římalová, V., Frič, J., Hort, J., & Sheardová, K. (2020). The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study. Clinical interventions in aging, 15, 1365–1381. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S249196

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness-based programs have shown a promising effect on several health factors associated with increased risk of dementia and the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia such as depression, stress, cognitive decline, immune system and brain structural and functional changes. Studies on mindfulness in MCI subjects are sparse and frequently lack control intervention groups.

Objective

To determine the feasibility and the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice on depression, cognition and immunity in MCI compared to cognitive training.

Methods

Twenty-eight MCI subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. MBSR group underwent 8-week MBSR program. Control group underwent 8-week cognitive training. Their cognitive and immunological profiles and level of depressive symptoms were examined at baseline, after each 8-week intervention (visit 2, V2) and six months after each intervention (visit 3, V3). MBSR participants completed feasibility questionnaire at V2.

Results

Twenty MCI patients completed the study (MBSR group n=12, control group n=8). MBSR group showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms at both V2 (p=0.03) and V3 (p=0.0461) compared to the baseline. There was a minimal effect on cognition – a group comparison analysis showed better psychomotor speed in the MBSR group compared to the control group at V2 (p=0.0493) but not at V3. There was a detectable change in immunological profiles in both groups, more pronounced in the MBSR group. Participants checked only positive/neutral answers concerning the attractivity/length of MBSR intervention. More severe cognitive decline (PVLT≤36) was associated with the lower adherence to home practice.

Conclusion

MBSR is well-accepted potentially promising intervention with positive effect on cognition, depressive symptoms and immunological profile.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429186/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Training in Nature

Improve Psychological Health with Mindfulness Training in Nature

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Outdoor meditation is an excellent way to improve mental health, reduce anxiety and lessen stress. The use of nature and outdoor space in meditation has been proven to yield major health benefits. Beyond just the physical impacts of lower blood pressure and other cardiovascular benefits—like what comes along with most exercise—meditation can leave you with an enhanced sense of energy and a better mood.” – EHE Health

 

Modern living is stressful, perhaps, in part because it has divorced us from the natural world that our species was immersed in throughout its evolutionary history. Modern environments may be damaging to our health and well-being simply because the species did not evolve to cope with them. This suggests that returning to nature, at least occasionally, may be beneficial. Indeed, researchers are beginning to study nature walks or what the Japanese call “Forest Bathing” and their effects on our mental and physical health.

 

Mindfulness practices have been found routinely to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve mood. People have long reported that walking in nature elevates their mood. It appears intuitively obvious that if mindfulness training occurred in a beautiful natural place, it would greatly improve the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. Pictures in the media of meditation almost always show a practitioner meditating in a beautiful natural setting. But there is little systematic research regarding the effects of mindfulness training in nature. It’s possible that the combination might magnify the individual benefits of each.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Restoration Skills Training (ReST) in a Natural Setting Compared to Conventional Mindfulness Training: Psychological Functioning After a Five-Week Course.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7438830/) Lymeus and colleagues recruited college students with self-perceived stress and  little or no meditation experience. They were randomly assigned to receive either Conventional Mindfulness Training or Restoration Skills Training in weekly 90-minute classes over 5 weeks with daily homework assignments. A no-treatment control group was separately recruited.

 

Both trainings were modelled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program with open monitoring and body scan meditation practices. The Conventional Mindfulness Training was conducted inside in a plain room while the Restoration Skills Training was conducted in a botanical garden both outside and inside in a greenhouse. It also emphasized “exploration of experiences emanating from sensory connection with stimuli in the environment.” The students were measured before and after training for mindfulness, cognitive function, and perceived stress.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group both the Conventional Mindfulness Training and Restoration Skills Training groups had significant increases in mindfulness and cognitive functions and decreases in perceived stress with medium to large effect sizes. There were no significant differences between the 2 mindfulness training programs.

 

The present study replicates the findings that have been repeatedly demonstrated in previous research that mindfulness training increases cognitive function and decreases perceived stress. A strength of the present study was that mindfulness training in nature was compared to comparable classical mindfulness training. This allows for a direct assessment of the benefits of training in nature. Although mindfulness training in nature was found to be greatly psychologically beneficial it was not found to be superior to training inside in a plain room.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training in nature is a viable and effective practice for the improvement of the well-being of college students. But there was no evidence that the benefits of being in nature supplemented the impact of mindfulness training. It should be noted that there may have been a ceiling effect present where both mindfulness training produced such strong benefits that there was no further room for practicing in nature to further increase the effects.

 

So, improve psychological health with mindfulness training in nature.

 

“you don’t have to choose between meditation and taking advantage of nature. Meditating outdoors is a great way to invigorate your practice and keep it going strong.” – Mindworks

 

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

Freddie Lymeus, Marie Ahrling, Josef Apelman, Cecilia de Mander Florin, Cecilia Nilsson, Janina Vincenti, Agnes Zetterberg, Per Lindberg, Terry Hartig. Mindfulness-Based Restoration Skills Training (ReST) in a Natural Setting Compared to Conventional Mindfulness Training: Psychological Functioning After a Five-Week Course. Front Psychol. 2020; 11: 1560. Published online 2020 Aug 12. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01560

 

Abstract

Restoration skills training (ReST) is a mindfulness-based course that draws on restorative nature experience to facilitate the meditation practice and teach widely applicable adaptation skills. Previous studies comparing ReST to conventional mindfulness training (CMT) showed that ReST has important advantages: it supports beginning meditators in connecting with restorative environmental qualities and in meditating with less effort; it restores their attention regulation capabilities; and it helps them complete the course and establish a regular meditation habit. However, mindfulness theory indicates that effortful training may be necessary to achieve generalized improvements in psychological functioning. Therefore, this study tests whether the less effortful and more acceptable ReST approach is attended by any meaningful disadvantage compared to CMT in terms of its effects on central aspects psychological functioning. We analyze data from four rounds of development of the ReST course, in each of which we compared it to a parallel and formally matched CMT course. Randomly assigned participants (total course starters = 152) provided ratings of dispositional mindfulness, cognitive functioning, and chronic stress before and after the 5-week ReST and CMT courses. Round 4 also included a separately recruited passive control condition. ReST and CMT were attended by similar average improvements in the three outcomes, although the effects on chronic stress were inconsistent. Moderate to large improvements in the three outcomes could also be affirmed in contrasts with the passive controls. Using a reliable change index, we saw that over one third of the ReST and CMT participants enjoyed reliably improved psychological functioning. The risk of experiencing deteriorated functioning was no greater with either ReST or CMT than for passive control group participants. None of the contrasts exceeded our stringent criterion for inferiority of ReST compared with CMT. We conclude that ReST is a promising alternative for otherwise healthy people with stress or concentration problems who would be less likely to complete more effortful CMT. By adapting the meditation practices to draw on restorative setting characteristics, ReST can mitigate the demands otherwise incurred in early stages of mindfulness training without compromising the acquisition of widely applicable mindfulness skills.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7438830/

 

Improve Psychological Health with a Mindfulness App

Improve Psychological Health with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The Mindfulness App opens up a world of professional guided meditations. It helps you towards a more peaceful and healthier state of mind. Newbie or guru? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. The Mindfulness App offers guided meditations for everyone.” – Google Play

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health and particularly with reducing the physical and psychological reactions to stress and increasing resilience in the face of stress. Indeed, these practices have been found to reduce stress and improve psychological health in college students.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a 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, mindfulness training over the internet 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. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Feasibility and Acceptability of a Mobile Mindfulness Meditation Intervention Among Women: Intervention Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298633/) Rung and colleagues recruited adult women and had them train for at least 30 days with 10-minute sessions of an online mindfulness app (Headspace) based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. They were measured before participation and 45 days later for feasibility and acceptability of the mindfulness app, mindfulness, depression, perceived stress, sleep quality, physical activity, body size, and healthy eating.

 

Of the women enrolled only 14% completed the Headspace program while 60% of the women completed all measures but did not engage in the Headspace program. Of the women who used the Headspace App three quarters liked or loved the program while 85% stated that they would recommend the app to others. They found that in comparison to baseline and to the participants who did not participate with Headspace, there were significant reductions in depression, sleep latency, and perceived stress, and increases in sleep quality and duration, and physical activity. Interestingly, there was no significant increase in mindfulness.

 

The fact that improvements in psychological health and sleep occurred without an increase in mindfulness is puzzling. Online apps have been found previously to increase mindfulness and mindfulness has been shown to decrease depression and perceived stress, and improve sleep quality. This suggests that the app can be beneficial independent of changes in mindfulness. This needs to be further explored in future research.

 

The willingness to use the mindfulness app was disappointingly low indicating that many of the women did not have the time or desire to use it. But if they used it, they tended to like it, recommend it to others, and have improvements in their psychological health and sleep. Obviously, more research is needed to identify why so few women were willing to utilize the app as this markedly limits its usefulness.

 

So, improve psychological health with a mindfulness app.

 

Meditation apps aren’t just a boon for consumers hoping to learn how to be more present at an affordable price. If effective, they also have implications for workplaces, schools, and even nations, who want to cultivate happier and healthier communities.” – Kira Newman

 

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

 

Rung, A. L., Oral, E., Berghammer, L., & Peters, E. S. (2020). Feasibility and Acceptability of a Mobile Mindfulness Meditation Intervention Among Women: Intervention Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(6), e15943. https://doi.org/10.2196/15943

 

Abstract

Background

Traditional mindfulness-based stress reduction programs are resource intensive for providers and time- and cost-intensive for participants, but the use of mobile technologies may be particularly convenient and cost-effective for populations that are busy, less affluent, or geographically distant from skilled providers. Women in southern Louisiana live in a vulnerable, disaster-prone region and are highly stressed, making a mobile program particularly suited to this population.

Objective

This study aimed to (1) assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mobile mindfulness app in real-world conditions in a pilot study of a community sample of women residing in southern Louisiana, (2) describe predictors of app usage, and (3) assess the effect of the app on secondary health outcomes.

Methods

Women were recruited from an oil spill study on health. A total of 236 women completed a baseline survey, were offered the mobile mindfulness program, and completed a follow-up survey. Subjects were asked to download and use the app for at least 30 days for 10 min. All study procedures were completed on the web. Primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability of the app and characteristics of app utilization. Secondary outcomes included mindfulness, depression, perceived stress, sleep quality, physical activity, BMI, and healthy eating.

Results

Overall, 74.2% (236/318) of subjects completed the follow-up survey, and 13.5% (43/318) used the app. The main barrier to app usage was lack of time, cited by 37% (16/43) of users and 48.7% (94/193) of nonusers of the app. Women who chose to use the app were more highly educated (16/43, 63% had a college education vs 65/193, 33.7% of nonparticipants; P<.001), had higher incomes (23/43, 58% had incomes >US $50,000 per year vs 77/193, 43.0% of nonparticipants), and were employed (34/43, 79% vs 122/193, 63.2% of nonparticipants; P=.047). Those who engaged with the app did so at high levels, with 72% (31/43) of participants self-reporting the completion of some or all sessions and 74% (32/43) reporting high levels of satisfaction with the app. Participation with the app had a beneficial impact on depression (odds ratio [OR] 0.3, 95% CI 0.11-0.81), sleep quality (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.02-0.96), sleep duration (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.07-0.86), sleep latency (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.11-0.81), and physical activity (2.8 95% CI 1.0-7.8), but mindfulness scores did not change from baseline to follow-up.

Conclusions

The Headspace mobile mindfulness app was easy and cost-effective to implement and acceptable to those who participated, but few women elected to try it. The unique characteristics of this southern Louisiana population suggest that more intense promotion of the benefits of mindfulness training is needed, perhaps in conjunction with some therapist or researcher support. Several short-term benefits of the app were identified, particularly for depression and sleep.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298633/

 

Improve Sleep and Social Anxiety with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep and Social Anxiety with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Self-compassionate people tend to have lower levels of social anxiety—perhaps because self-compassion includes mindfulness, which soothes the stress associated with anxiety.” – Jill Suttie

 

It is a common human phenomenon that being in a social situation can be stressful and anxiety producing. Most people can deal with the anxiety and can become quite comfortable. But many do not cope well and the anxiety is overwhelming, causing the individual to withdraw. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. But there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. There are a number of psychological therapies for anxiety. But, about 45% of the patients treated do not respond to the therapy. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) has also been found to be associated with sleep disturbance. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. So, it makes sense to explore the interactions of mindfulness training, sleep quality, and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

 

In today’s Research News article “Sleep quality and treatment of social anxiety disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698895/) Horenstein and colleagues recruited healthy control participants and adult patients diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). The patients were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 12 weekly 2.5 hour sessions of either Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with home readings and practices. MBSR training employs meditation, body scan, yoga, discussions, and home practice. CBGT explores and attempts to change inaccurate or negative thinking so the patient can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. They were measured before and after the 12-week treatment period and 12 months later for mental illness, sleep quality, and social anxiety.

 

They found that at baseline the patients diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) had significantly poorer sleep quality than healthy control participants. After treatment both the Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) groups had significant improvements in Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) compared to baseline and the wait-list control participants. In addition, the patients who received MBSR had significant improvement in sleep quality. But this did not significantly differ from patients receiving CBGT. Sleep quality, however, did not significantly modify the treatment responses and changes in sleep quality over treatment did not predict changes in social anxiety.

 

These results are interesting and demonstrate that both Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT) or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) effectively reduce social anxiety in patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) while MBSR also improves sleep quality in these patients. This replicates previous findings that mindfulness training improves SAD and sleep. The new contribution of the present study was that sleep quality was not related to improvements in SAD.

 

So, improve sleep and social anxiety with mindfulness.

 

Lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, can worsen social anxiety in those with the disorder and even trigger similar feelings in others.” – Relax Melodies

 

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

 

Horenstein, A., Morrison, A. S., Goldin, P., Ten Brink, M., Gross, J. J., & Heimberg, R. G. (2019). Sleep quality and treatment of social anxiety disorder. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 32(4), 387–398. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2019.1617854

 

Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Poor sleep is prevalent among individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and may affect treatment outcome. We examined whether: (1) individuals with SAD differed from healthy controls (HCs) in sleep quality, (2) baseline sleep quality moderated the effects of treatment (Cognitive-behavioral group therapy [CBGT] vs. mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR] vs. waitlist [WL]) on social anxiety, (3) sleep quality changed over treatment, and (4) changes in sleep quality predicted anxiety 12-months post-treatment.

Design:

Participants were 108 adults with SAD from a randomized controlled trial of CBGT vs. MBSR vs. WL and 38 HCs.

Methods:

SAD and sleep quality were assessed pre-treatment and post-treatment, and SAD was assessed again 12-months post-treatment.

Results:

Participants with SAD reported poorer sleep quality than HCs. The effect of treatment condition on post-treatment social anxiety did not differ as a function of baseline sleep quality. Sleep quality improved in MBSR, significantly more than WL, but not CBGT. Sleep quality change from pre- to post-treatment in CBGT or MBSR did not predict later social anxiety.

Conclusions:

MBSR, and not CBGT, improved sleep quality among participants. Other results were inconsistent with prior research; possible explanations, limitations, and implications for future research are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698895/

 

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Practicing mindfulness can assist with uncertainty about the future, depression, fear of recurrence and anxiety as well as mitigate physical symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and sleep disturbance.” – Erin Murphy-Wilczek

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. There has been considerable research conducted on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in treating the psychological issues associated with cancer. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of mindfulness in treating anxiety in cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association of Mindfulness-Based Interventions With Anxiety Severity in Adults With Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414391/) Oberoi and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research on the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing anxiety in adult cancer patients. They found 28 published trials. The most common forms of mindfulness treatment were Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) (13 studies) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) (6 studies).

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness training reduced anxiety and depression and increased quality of life over the short and medium term (up to 6 months post-treatment) with moderate effect sizes. The reduction in anxiety and depression may be responsible for the improvement in the patients’ quality of life. But 2 trials had longer term follow up measures (over 6 months) and did not find significant reductions. The fact that the effects do not appear to last beyond 6 months suggests that continued mindfulness practice or periodic booster sessions may be needed.

 

Fighting cancer is very stressful and amplifies negative emotions like anxiety and depression. The stress produced by these emotions can in turn interfere with the body’s ability to fight the cancer. So, treating these negative emotional states may be very important not only for the individual’s mental health but also to their physical well-being. So, mindfulness training may be important to the overall health of the cancer patient by reducing anxiety and depression.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“In summary, results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” – Linda Carlson

 

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

 

Oberoi, S., Yang, J., Woodgate, R. L., Niraula, S., Banerji, S., Israels, S. J., Altman, G., Beattie, S., Rabbani, R., Askin, N., Gupta, A., Sung, L., Abou-Setta, A. M., & Zarychanski, R. (2020). Association of Mindfulness-Based Interventions With Anxiety Severity in Adults With Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA network open, 3(8), e2012598. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.12598

 

Abstract

Importance

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), grounded in mindfulness, focus on purposely paying attention to experiences occurring at the present moment without judgment. MBIs are increasingly used by patients with cancer for the reduction of anxiety, but it remains unclear if MBIs reduce anxiety in patients with cancer.

Objective

To evaluate the association of MBIs with reductions in the severity of anxiety in patients with cancer.

Data Sources

Systematic searches of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and SCOPUS were conducted from database inception to May 2019 to identify relevant citations.

Study Selection

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that compared MBI with usual care, waitlist controls, or no intervention for the management of anxiety in cancer patients were included. Two reviewers conducted a blinded screening. Of 101 initially identified studies, 28 met the inclusion criteria.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Two reviewers independently extracted the data. The Cochrane Collaboration risk-of-bias tool was used to assess the quality of RCTs, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses reporting guideline was followed. Summary effect measures were reported as standardized mean differences (SMDs) and calculated using a random-effects model.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Our primary outcome was the measure of severity of short-term anxiety (up to 1-month postintervention); secondary outcomes were the severity of medium-term (1 to ≤6 months postintervention) and long-term (>6 to 12 months postintervention) anxiety, depression, and health-related quality of life of patients and caregivers.

Results

This meta-analysis included 28 RCTs enrolling 3053 adults with cancer. None of the trials were conducted in children. Mindfulness was associated with significant reductions in the severity of short-term anxiety (23 trials; 2339 participants; SMD, −0.51; 95% CI, −0.70 to −0.33; I2 = 76%). The association of mindfulness with short-term anxiety did not vary by evaluated patient, intervention, or study characteristics. Mindfulness was also associated with the reduction of medium-term anxiety (9 trials; 965 participants; SMD, −0.43; 95% CI, −0.68 to −0.18; I2 = 66%). No reduction in long-term anxiety was observed (2 trials; 403 participants; SMD, −0.02; 95% CI, −0.38 to 0.34; I2 = 68%). MBIs were associated with a reduction in the severity of depression in the short term (19 trials; 1874 participants; SMD, −0.73; 95% CI; −1.00 to −0.46; I2 = 86%) and the medium term (8 trials; 891 participants; SMD, −0.85; 95% CI, −1.35 to −0.35; I2 = 91%) and improved health-related quality of life in patients in the short term (9 trials; 1108 participants; SMD, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.82; I2 = 82%) and the medium term (5 trials; 771 participants; SMD, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.06 to 0.52; I2 = 57%).

Conclusions and Relevance

In this study, MBIs were associated with reductions in anxiety and depression up to 6 months postintervention in adults with cancer. Future trials should explore the long-term association of mindfulness with anxiety and depression in adults with cancer and determine its efficacy in more diverse cancer populations using active controls.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414391/

 

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Burgeoning research is showing that self-compassion skills can be of particular benefit to health care professionals, allowing them to experience greater satisfaction in their caregiving roles, less stress, and more emotional resilience.” – CMSC

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

One way that mindfulness may help reduce burnout is by improving self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” (Kristin Neff). This may reduce the perfectionism and self-judgement that is common among physicians and thereby reduce burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) Conversano and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness on compassion and self-compassion and the symptoms of burnout in health care professionals. They identified 57 published studies consisting of: “randomized controlled trials (4), studies with pre-post measurements (23), cross-sectional studies (12), cohort studies (11), and qualitative studies (7)”.

 

They report that the published research found that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing burnout, stress, anxiety and depression. Other mindfulness trainings were effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing negative emotions and compassion fatigue. Compassion training programs were effective in increasing mindfulness, positive emotions, and self-compassion and reducing interpersonal conflicts, negative emotions and compassion fatigue.

 

This research summary suggests that mindfulness training and compassion training are both useful in combatting the stress of healthcare work and reducing potential burnout of these professionals. The large number of studies employing different mindfulness and compassion training programs makes a strong case for the use of mindfulness and compassion training to reduce the likelihood of burnout of health care professionals and thereby improve the quality of the delivery of health care to the patients. This all suggests that mindfulness and compassion training should be routinely incorporated in the training and continuing education of healthcare workers,

 

Improve compassion and self-compassion in health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care professionals who completed the MBSR program reported an increase in feelings of self-compassion and reduced stress.” – Elaine Mead

 

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

 

Conversano C, Ciacchini R, Orrù G, Di Giuseppe M, Gemignani A and Poli A (2020) Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review. Front. Psychol. 11:1683. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683

 

Health care professionals (HCPs) are a population at risk for high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. The aim of the present systematic review was to give an overview on recent literature about mindfulness and compassion characteristics of HCPs, while exploring the effectiveness of techniques, involving the two aspects, such as MBSR or mindfulness intervention and compassion fatigue-related programs. A search of databases, including PubMed and PsycINFO, was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and the methodological quality for this systematic review was appraised using AMSTAR-2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews-2). The number of articles that met the inclusion criteria was 58 (4 RCTs, 24 studies with pre-post measurements, 12 cross-sectional studies, 11 cohort studies and 7 qualitative studies). MBSR intervention was effective at improving, and maintaining, mindfulness and self-compassion levels and to improve burnout, depression, anxiety, stress. The most frequently employed interventional strategies were mindfulness-related trainings that were effective at improving mindfulness and self-compassion, but not compassion fatigue, levels. Compassion-related interventions have been shown to improve self-compassion, mindfulness and interpersonal conflict levels. Mindfulness was effective at improving negative affect and compassion fatigue, while compassion satisfaction may be related to cultivation of positive affect. This systematic review summarized the evidence regarding mindfulness- and compassion-related qualities of HCPs as well as potential effects of MBSR, mindfulness-related and compassion-related interventions on professionals’ psychological variables like mindfulness, self-compassion and quality of life. Combining structured mindfulness and compassion cultivation trainings may enhance the effects of interventions, limit the variability of intervention protocols and improve data comparability of future research.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A