Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients Living with HIV/AIDS with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients Living with HIV/AIDS with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given the stress-reduction benefits of mindfulness meditation training, these findings indicate there can be health protective effects not just in people with HIV but in folks who suffer from daily stress,” – – David Creswell

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people.

 

People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection. Yoga practice has also been found to be effective in treating HIV.

 

The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and review what has been learned about the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the treatment of the symptoms of living with HIV/AIDS. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: 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/PMC6344266/), Scott-Sheldon and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) for the treatment of the symptoms experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS.

 

They identified 16 published research studies containing a total of 1059 participants. Of these studies 11 employed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) while 5 studies employed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). All studies compared pre- to post-treatment measures while 9 of these studies also had a control comparison group.

 

They report that the published research found that in comparison to baseline after treatment with Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) there were significant improvements in quality of life and positive emotions and significant reductions in anxiety and depression. The reductions in depression were significantly greater for those participants who received Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). No significant effects were reported for improvements in immune system function (CD4 counts).

 

This analysis of the available research suggests that Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) are a safe and effective treatment to improve the psychological health of patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The fact that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was more effective for depression was not surprising as MBCT was specifically developed to treat depression. It has been well established the Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) are effective in reducing anxiety and depression and improving positive emotions and quality of life in a wide variety of patients. The present analysis simply extends types of patients for which Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs)are beneficial to patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of patients living with HIV/AIDS with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based therapies . . . had a long-term effect on stress and both a short- and long-term effect on depression in people living with an HIV infection.” – Xu Tian

 

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

 

Scott-Sheldon, L., Balletto, B. L., Donahue, M. L., Feulner, M. M., Cruess, D. G., Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., … Carey, M. P. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. AIDS and behavior, 23(1), 60–75. doi:10.1007/s10461-018-2236-9

 

Abstract

This meta-analysis examined the effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on stress, psychological symptoms, and biomarkers of disease among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Comprehensive searches identified 16 studies that met the inclusion criteria (N = 1,059; M age = 42 years; 20% women). Participants had been living with HIV for an average of 8 years (range = <1 to 20 years); 65% were currently on antiretroviral therapy. Between-group analyses indicated that depressive symptoms were reduced among participants receiving the MBIs compared to controls (d+ = 0.37, 95% CI = 0.03, 0.71). Within-group analyses showed reductions in psychological symptoms (i.e., less anxiety, fewer depressive symptoms) and improved quality of life over time among MBI participants (d+s = 0.40–0.85). No significant changes were observed for immunological outcomes (i.e., CD4 counts) between- or within- groups. MBIs may be a promising approach for reducing psychological symptoms and improving quality of life among PLWHA. Studies using stronger designs (i.e., randomized controlled trials) with larger sample sizes and longer follow-ups are needed to clarify the potential benefits of MBIs for PLWHA.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6344266/

 

Improve the Symptoms of Bone Cancer with Mindfulness

Improve the Symptoms of Bone Cancer with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

in the area of cancer care, the body of research is more robust than in many others, with a number of large well-designed studies and meta-analyses providing consistent and promising results.” – Linda Carlson

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis. 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. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. This has been demonstrated with a large variety of cancers. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)  program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction combined with music therapy on pain, anxiety, and sleep quality in patients with osteosarcoma.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6899366/), Liu and colleagues study the effectiveness of MBSR for the treatment of the symptoms of osteosarcoma (bone cancer).

 

They recruited patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma. All patients continued receiving their usual care but half were randomly assigned them to receive an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). At the end of each session they listened to music for 30 minutes. They were measured before and after treatment for pain levels, anxiety, and sleep quality.

 

After treatment the patients who received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) plus music therapy reported significantly less pain and anxiety and greater sleep quality. The study did not have an active control group. So, confounding variables such as placebo and Hawthorn effects may have bee responsible for the effects. But prior research has demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces anxiety and pain and improves sleep in a wide variety of patients. So, it is likely that MBSR training was responsible for the benefits seen in the present study.

 

The study did not investigate the relationship between the relief to the symptoms. But it is reasonable to think that the pain relief may have contributed to the improvement in sleep and the relief of anxiety. Hence, mindfulness training markedly improved some of the residual symptoms remaining after treatment for bone cancer relieving their suffering.

 

Improve the symptoms of bone cancer with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based interventions may decrease pain severity, anxiety, and depression and can improve QoL. . . treatment for cancer pain.” – Srisuda Ngamkham

 

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

 

Liu, H., Gao, X., & Hou, Y. (2019). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction combined with music therapy on pain, anxiety, and sleep quality in patients with osteosarcoma. Revista brasileira de psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999), 41(6), 540–545. doi:10.1590/1516-4446-2018-0346

 

Abstract

Objectives:

To evaluate the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) combined with music therapy (MT) on clinical symptoms in patients with osteosarcoma.

Methods:

Patients diagnosed with osteosarcoma were assessed for eligibility. A total of 101 patients were ultimately randomized into the intervention and control groups. Both groups received routine care. Eight sessions of MBSR and MT psychotherapy were conducted in the intervention group, while the control group received no psychological intervention. Patients were assessed regarding pain, anxiety, and sleep quality at two distinct stages: before and after the intervention.

Results:

There were no significant differences in sociodemographic and clinical parameters between the intervention and control groups at baseline. The intervention program significantly alleviated psychological and physiological complications in patients with osteosarcoma. Specifically, the study revealed that 8 weeks of the combined MBSR/MT intervention effectively reduced pain and anxiety scores and improved the quality of sleep in patients.

Conclusion:

MBSR combined with MT significantly alleviated clinical symptoms, and could be considered a new, effective psychotherapeutic intervention for patients with osteosarcoma.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6899366/

 

 

Meditation Practice Does Not Change the Brain or Impulsivity

Meditation Practice Does Not Change the Brain or Impulsivity

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Impulsivity is a characteristic of human behavior that can be both beneficial and detrimental to our everyday lives. For example, the ability to act on impulse may allow us to seize a valuable opportunity, or to make a disastrous decision that we then live to regret.” – Catharine Winstanley

 

Impulsivity “is a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences.” It can lead to taking unnecessary risks with at times disastrous consequences. It can also lead to inappropriate aggressive behavior also potentially leading to disastrous consequences including disciplinary problems and even criminal prosecution. There are some indications that mindfulness can help to reduce impulsivity. But there is a need for more study of this potential benefit of mindfulness.

 

The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits. The types of neural changes produced by meditation practice that might underlie changes in impulsivity have not been investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Impulsivity and its Neurobiological Correlates in Healthy Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700173/), Korponay and colleagues recruited long-term meditators with at least 3 years of experience and meditation naïve adults. They were measured for mindfulness, impulsivity and behavioral inhibition with a go-no-go task. In addition, their brains were scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and their spontaneous eye blinks recorded. Then the meditation naïve participants were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, an 8-week health education program, or a wait-list control condition. After treatment they underwent the same measurements.

 

They found that after the interventions the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) group had significantly higher levels of mindfulness but there were no significant changes in impulsivity or behavioral inhibition and no significant differences in brain volumes or connectivity, or in eye blink rates. Hence, short-term mindfulness training did improve mindfulness but did not produce changes in the brain or in impulsivity.

 

In comparing long-term meditators to meditation naïve participants, they found that the long-term meditators had lower attentional impulsivity, suggesting better attentional control, but higher motor and non-planning impulsivity. The long-term meditators had less striatal gray matter, greater cortico-striatal-thalamic functional connectivity, and lower spontaneous eye-blink rates.

 

The null findings regarding brain structural changes following Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training are curious as prior research has consistently demonstrated that this training produces significant changes in the brain. Only in comparing long-term meditators to meditation naïve participants were significant differences detected. This suggests that the brain difference may have been not been due to the effects of the meditation itself, but rather to brain differences in people who are drawn to long-term meditation practice compared to people who are not drawn.

 

The present results suggest that neither long-term or short-term mindfulness practice changes impulsivity. Previous research found that mindfulness training reduced impulsivity in individuals who had difficulties with impulse control, prisoners, patients with borderline personality disorder, and out-of-control teenagers. It would appear that mindfulness training is effective in reducing impulsivity in people with low levels of impulse control but not in normal populations. Hence, mindfulness training is helpful for improving impulse control only where it is low to begin with.

 

It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation. You don’t have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.” – Bin He

 

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

 

Korponay, C., Dentico, D., Kral, T., Ly, M., Kruis, A., Davis, K., … Davidson, R. J. (2019). The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Impulsivity and its Neurobiological Correlates in Healthy Adults. Scientific reports, 9(1), 11963. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47662-y

 

Abstract

Interest has grown in using mindfulness meditation to treat conditions featuring excessive impulsivity. However, while prior studies find that mindfulness practice can improve attention, it remains unclear whether it improves other cognitive faculties whose deficiency can contribute to impulsivity. Here, an eight-week mindfulness intervention did not reduce impulsivity on the go/no-go task or Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), nor produce changes in neural correlates of impulsivity (i.e. frontostriatal gray matter, functional connectivity, and dopamine levels) compared to active or wait-list control groups. Separately, long-term meditators (LTMs) did not perform differently than meditation-naïve participants (MNPs) on the go/no-go task. However, LTMs self-reported lower attentional impulsivity, but higher motor and non-planning impulsivity on the BIS-11 than MNPs. LTMs had less striatal gray matter, greater cortico-striatal-thalamic functional connectivity, and lower spontaneous eye-blink rate (a physiological dopamine indicator) than MNPs. LTM total lifetime practice hours (TLPH) did not significantly relate to impulsivity or neurobiological metrics. Findings suggest that neither short- nor long-term mindfulness practice may be effective for redressing impulsive behavior derived from inhibitory motor control or planning capacity deficits in healthy adults. Given the absence of TLPH relationships to impulsivity or neurobiological metrics, differences between LTMs and MNPs may be attributable to pre-existing differences.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700173/

 

Improve the Rehabilitation of Cardiac Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Rehabilitation of Cardiac Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Meditation practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease [the prevention of further heart or stroke events for people who already have the condition].” – British Heart Foundation

 

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. A myriad of treatments has been developed including a variety of surgical procedures and medications. In addition, lifestyle changes have proved to be effective including quitting smoking, weight reduction, improved diet, physical activity, and reducing stresses. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, 60% of cardiovascular disease patients decline participation, making these patients at high risk for another attack.

 

Contemplative practices have been shown to be safe and effective alternative treatments for cardiovascular disease. Practices such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga, have been shown to be helpful for heart health and to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. Additionally, they have been shown to be helpful for producing the kinds of lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease such as smoking cessation, and weight reduction. They have also been shown to be effective in maintaining cardiovascular health and the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hence it is reasonable to continue studying the effects of mindfulness training on patients with cardiovascular disease.

 

In today’s Research News article “Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Cardiac Patients Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895078/), Niijar and colleagues performed a pilot randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the mental and physical health of cardiovascular disease patients.

 

They recruited patients with cardiovascular disease who were participating in an exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either usual care or an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that met once a week for 2.5 hours and consisted of meditation, body scan, and yoga practices and discussion along with daily home practice. They were measured at baseline and 3 and 9 months later for depressive symptoms, anxiety, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, health history, medication usage, heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, and blood triglycerides and HbA1c.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care group, the group that received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety and non-significant trends for lower levels of perceived stress and systolic blood pressure and higher levels of health related quality of life and self-rated health. They also found that the lower the levels of depression and anxiety at 3 months follow-up, the lower the cardiovascular risk factors at the 9-month follow-up, including systolic blood pressure, blood triglycerides, HbA1c, and body mass index.

 

This was a small pilot study that did not have sufficient statistical power to detect small group differences. In addition, all participants received exercise based cardiac rehabilitation program that would be expected to produce improvements by itself. Nevertheless, the study found that the additional participation in a mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the psychological health of the participants and also found trends toward improvements in physiological health. The results suggest that a large randomized controlled trial is justified.

 

The results suggest that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program may be an effective treatment as a supplement to exercise based cardiac rehabilitation program for the long-term improvement of the mental and physical health of these at-risk patients. This suggests that participation in MBSR in conjunction with exercise may reduce the risk of another cardiovascular event and improve the longevity and mental health of these vulnerable patients.

 

So, improve the rehabilitation of cardiac patients with mindfulness.

 

meditation may promote heart health and reduce cardiovascular risk.” – American College of Cardiology

 

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

 

Nijjar, P. S., Connett, J. E., Lindquist, R., Brown, R., Burt, M., Pergolski, A., … Everson-Rose, S. A. (2019). Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Cardiac Patients Eligible for Cardiac Rehabilitation. Scientific reports, 9(1), 18415. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-54932-2

 

Abstract

Currently, exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is the only recommended secondary prevention strategy for cardiac patients that attempts to tackle stress and psychosocial wellbeing, but it is under-utilized and lacks a comprehensive curriculum for this purpose; hence there is a critical gap to address psychosocial needs of cardiac patients after an event. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown benefits in the general population but its role in cardiac patients is not clear. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of MBSR in CR-eligible cardiac patients during their initial year of recovery. Patients were allocated 2:1 (intervention:control) to an 8-week MBSR group intervention or usual care. Standard measures of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, health related quality of life (HRQOL), blood pressure, biomarkers (lipids, HbA1c, CRP) and 24-hour Holter monitoring were obtained at baseline, 3- and 9-months post-randomization. Sub-group analyses were performed for participants with at least mild depression (PHQ-9 ≥ 5). 47 patients [mean age 58.6 years; 38% female; 77% white] were enrolled in 2 cohorts. 87% of MBSR patients completed the intervention; study retention was >95% at each follow-up visit. At 3 months, compared to controls, MBSR patients showed improvements in depression [p = 0.01] and anxiety [p = 0.04] with a similar trend in HRQOL [p = 0.06]. The MBSR group showed greater improvement or less worsening of most CV risk factors, with an attenuation of treatment effects at 9 months. Participants with at PHQ-9 scores ≥5 at baseline showed greater improvement in psychosocial and CV outcomes, that persisted at 9 months. MBSR is a safe and well received secondary prevention strategy. This pilot RCT provides preliminary evidence of MBSR’s potential to improve short term psychosocial well-being in cardiac patients during their first year of recovery.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895078/

 

Improve the Physical and Psychological Health of Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Physical and Psychological Health of Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It turns out that some of the most difficult elements of the cancer experience are very well-suited to a mindfulness practice.” – Linda Carlson

 

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. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, fear, and anxiety and depression. The evidence is accumulating. So, it is timely to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions for psychological and physical health outcomes in cancer patients and survivors: A systematic review and 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/PMC6916350/), Cillessen and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of mindfulness training in treating the symptoms of cancer and its treatment. They found 29 RCTs that included a total of 3224 participants.

 

The summary of the published research reflected that mindfulness training produced significant reductions in psychological distress in the cancer patients including reductions in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and fear of cancer reoccurrence with small to moderate effects sizes. These improvements were found both immediately after treatment and also at follow-up from 3 to 24 months later. Further they found that mindfulness trainings that adhered to the protocols for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) had the greatest effect sizes.

 

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that mindfulness training is effective in reducing psychological distress including reductions in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and fear in a wide variety of individuals with and without disease states. The present meta-analysis demonstrates the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the relief of psychological and physical suffering of cancer patients. It does not affect the disease process. Rather, it reduces the patients psychological suffering and does so for a prolonged period of time.

 

So, improve the physical and psychological health of cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

patients who practice mindfulness begin to feel better despite their medical problems. Physical symptoms don’t necessarily go away, but that’s not the aim of mindfulness. Rather, the goal is to help you find a different perspective and a new way of coping with your illness.” – Eric Tidline

 

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

 

Cillessen, L., Johannsen, M., Speckens, A., & Zachariae, R. (2019). Mindfulness-based interventions for psychological and physical health outcomes in cancer patients and survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psycho-oncology, 28(12), 2257–2269. doi:10.1002/pon.5214

 

Abstract

Objective

Mindfulness‐based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly used within psycho‐oncology. Since the publication of the most recent comprehensive meta‐analysis on MBIs in cancer in 2012, the number of published trials has more than doubled. We therefore conducted a systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), testing the efficacy of MBIs on measures of psychological distress (primary outcome) and other health outcomes in cancer patients and survivors.

Methods

Two authors conducted independent literature searches in electronic databases from first available date to 10 October 2018, selected eligible studies, extracted data for meta‐analysis, and evaluated risk of bias.

Results

Twenty‐nine independent RCTs (reported in 38 papers) with 3274 participants were included. Small and statistically significant pooled effects of MBIs on combined measures of psychological distress were found at post‐intervention (Hedges’s g = 0.32; 95%CI: 0.22‐0.41; P < .001) and follow‐up (g = 0.19; 95%CI: 0.07‐0.30; P < .002). Statistically significant effects were also found at either post‐intervention or follow‐up for a range of self‐reported secondary outcomes, including anxiety, depression, fear of cancer recurrence, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and pain (g: 0.20 to 0.51; p: <.001 to.047). Larger effects of MBIs on psychological distress were found in studies (a) adhering to the original MBI manuals, (b) with younger patients, (c) with passive control conditions, and (d) shorter time to follow‐up. Improvements in mindfulness skills were associated with greater reductions in psychological distress at post‐intervention.

Conclusions

MBIs appear efficacious in reducing psychological distress and other symptoms in cancer patients and survivors. However, many of the effects were of small magnitude, suggesting a need for intervention optimization research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6916350/

 

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

Meditation Comes in Seven Different Varieties

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Experienced meditators agree: a daily meditation practice can have significant benefits for mental and physical health. But one thing they probably won’t agree on? The most effective types of meditation. That’s simply because it’s different for everyone. After all, there are literally hundreds of meditation techniques encompassing practices from different traditions, cultures, spiritual disciplines, and religions.” Headspace

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, meditation training has been called the third wave of therapies. One problem with understanding meditation effects is that there are, a wide variety of meditation techniques and it is not known which work best for improving different conditions.

 

There are a number of different types of meditation. Classically they’ve been characterized on a continuum with the degree and type of attentional focus. In focused attention meditation, the individual practices paying attention to a single meditation object. Transcendental meditation is a silent mantra-based focused meditation in which a word or phrase is repeated over and over again. In open monitoring meditation, the individual opens up awareness to everything that’s being experienced regardless of its origin. In Loving Kindness Meditation the individual systematically pictures different individuals from self, to close friends, to enemies and wishes them happiness, well-being, safety, peace, and ease of well-being.

 

But there are a number of techniques that do not fall into these categories and even within these categories there are a number of large variations. In today’s Research News article “What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/), Matko and colleagues attempt to develop a more comprehensive system of classification. They found 309 different techniques but reduced them down to the 20 most popular ones. They recruited 100 meditators with at least 2 years of experience and asked them to rate how similar each technique was to every other technique.

 

They applied multidimensional scaling to the data which uncovered two dimensions that adequately described all of the 20 techniques. The analysis revealed a dimension of the amount of activation involved and a dimension of the amount of body orientation involved. All 20 techniques were classified within these two dimensions. Visual inspection of where the various techniques fell on the two dimensions produces 7 different clusters labelled as “(1) Body-centered meditation, (2) mindful observation, (3) contemplation, (4) mantra meditation, (5) visual concentration, (6) affect-centered meditation, and (7) meditation with movement.”

 

Within the high activation and low body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “Mantra Meditation” including singing sutras/mantras/invocations, repeating syllables and meditation with sounds. Within the low activation and low body orientation quadrant there were three clusters identified, labelled “affect-centered meditation” including cultivating compassion and opening up to blessings; “visual orientations” including visualizations and concentrating on an object; and “contemplation” including contemplating on a question and contradictions or paradoxes.

 

Within the high activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “meditation with movement” including “meditation with movement, manipulating the breath, and walking and observing senses. Within the low activation and high body orientation quadrant there was one cluster identified, labelled “mindful observation” including observing thoughts, lying meditation, and sitting in silence. Finally, they identified a cluster with high body but straddling the activation dimension, labelled “body centered meditation” including concentrating on a energy centers or channeling, body scan, abdominal breath, nostril breath, and observing the body.

 

This 7-category classification system is interesting and based upon the ratings of experienced meditators. So, there is reason to believe that there is a degree of validity. In addition, the system is able to encompass 20 different popular meditation techniques. It remains for future research to investigate whether this classification system is useful in better understanding the effects of meditation or the underlying brain systems.

 

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone. These practices require different skills and mindsets. How do you know which practice is right for you? “It’s what feels comfortable and what you feel encouraged to practice,” – Mira Dessy

 

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

 

Matko, K., & Sedlmeier, P. (2019). What Is Meditation? Proposing an Empirically Derived Classification System. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2276. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02276

 

Abstract

Meditation is an umbrella term, which subsumes a huge number of diverse practices. It is still unclear how these practices can be classified in a reasonable way. Earlier proposals have struggled to do justice to the diversity of meditation techniques. To help in solving this issue, we used a novel bottom-up procedure to develop a comprehensive classification system for meditation techniques. In previous studies, we reduced 309 initially identified techniques to the 20 most popular ones. In the present study, 100 experienced meditators were asked to rate the similarity of the selected 20 techniques. Using multidimensional scaling, we found two orthogonal dimensions along which meditation techniques could be classified: activation and amount of body orientation. These dimensions emphasize the role of embodied cognition in meditation. Within these two dimensions, seven main clusters emerged: mindful observation, body-centered meditation, visual concentration, contemplation, affect-centered meditation, mantra meditation, and meditation with movement. We conclude there is no “meditation” as such, but there are rather different groups of techniques that might exert diverse effects. These groups call into question the common division into “focused attention” and “open-monitoring” practices. We propose a new embodied classification system and encourage researchers to evaluate this classification system through comparative studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6803504/

 

Monitoring and Acceptance of the Present Moment Underlies Mindfulness’ Improving of Positive Emotions

Monitoring and Acceptance of the Present Moment Underlies Mindfulness’ Improving of Positive Emotions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life.” – Emily Lindsay

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

The mechanisms by which mindfulness produces improved positive emotions have not been widely explored. In today’s Research News article “How mindfulness training promotes positive emotions: Dismantling acceptance skills training in two randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296247/), Lindsay and colleagues performed 2 studies to examine the relative effectiveness of the acceptance of and monitoring the present moment components of mindfulness training for improving positive emotions.

 

In study 1 they recruited adult participants who were smartphone owners and who measured high in perceived stress and randomly assigned them to a no-treatment control condition or to receive an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion, and meeting once weekly for 2 hours for 8 weeks, including daily home practice. In one condition the MBSR program contained the normal instructions to monitor the present moment and to accept what is transpiring in the present moment without judgement (Monitor & Accept). In another condition the MBSR program contained a modified instruction that deleted all reference to acceptance an non-judging (Monitoring Only). Before and after training the participants completed measures of positive and negative emotions. In addition, the participants completed a measure of positive and negative emotions 5 times daily on their smartphones.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment control group, both groups who received the MBSR training had progressive significant increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions over the course of training. But the Monitor & Accept group had significantly greater increases in positive emotions especially happiness and significantly greater decreases in negative emotions especially hostility than the Monitor Only group.

 

In study 2 to prevent discussions of acceptance during group discussions there were no group meetings or discussions. Rather all mindfulness training was delivered over smartphones with daily 20-minute guided practice followed by 10 minutes of home practice for 14 days. The stressed participants were randomly assigned to a Monitor & Accept, Monitor Only, or Coping Control conditions. The Coping condition consisted of instructions on coping and reappraising emotions.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the Coping control group, both groups who received the mindfulness training had progressive significant increases in positive emotions and the Monitor & Accept group had significantly greater increases in positive emotions than the Monitor Only group. All 3 groups had significant decreases in negative emotions without significant differences between groups.

 

These results increase our understanding of the effectiveness of different components of mindfulness training in altering emotions. In particular, they indicate that both the monitoring and acceptance of present moment experience are important for increasing positive emotions in practitioners and that they act additively. The addition of acceptance of present moment experience to monitoring produces greater increases in positive emotions. The findings also suggest that MBSR training produces greater reductions in negative emotions than smartphone-based mindfulness training.

 

Emotions are very important and dictate our overall happiness and well-being. In fact, they are essential to mental health. Mindfulness training by improving emotions produces greater happiness, well-being, and mental health. The present studies suggest that both monitoring and acceptance of present moment experience are important for the improvement of emotions and should be emphasized in mindfulness trainings.

 

So, monitoring and acceptance of the present moment underlies mindfulness’ improving of positive emotions.

 

“In mindfulness practice, feelings are not good or bad; they just are what they are – emotions that might be comfortable or uncomfortable, easy or difficult.” – Living Well

 

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

 

Lindsay, E. K., Chin, B., Greco, C. M., Young, S., Brown, K. W., Wright, A., … Creswell, J. D. (2018). How mindfulness training promotes positive emotions: Dismantling acceptance skills training in two randomized controlled trials. Journal of personality and social psychology, 115(6), 944–973. doi:10.1037/pspa0000134

 

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation interventions – which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with a lens of acceptance – have shown promise for increasing positive emotions. Using a theory-based approach, we hypothesized that learning acceptance skills in mindfulness interventions helps people notice more positive experiences in daily life, and tested whether removing acceptance training from mindfulness interventions would eliminate intervention-related boosts in positive affect. In two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of stressed community adults, mindfulness skills were dismantled into two structurally equivalent interventions: (1) training in both monitoring and acceptance (Monitor+Accept) and (2) training in monitoring only (Monitor Only) without acceptance training. Study 1 tested 8-week group-based Monitor+Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared to a no treatment control group. Study 2 tested 2-week smartphone-based Monitor+Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared to an active control training. In both studies, end-of-day and momentary positive affect and negative affect were measured in daily life for three days pre- and post-intervention using ambulatory assessments. As predicted, across two RCTs, Monitor+Accept training increased positive affect compared to both Monitor Only and control groups. In Study 1, this effect was observed in end-of-day positive affect. In Study 2, this effect was found in both end-of-day and momentary positive affect outcomes. In contrast, all active interventions in Studies 1 and 2 decreased negative affect. These studies provide the first experimental evidence that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296247/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Survivors of Childhood Maltreatment with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Survivors of Childhood Maltreatment with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Because traumatic experience is often driven by avoidance of one’s core self, memories, and emotions, many people with unresolved or resolving developmental trauma struggle to remain present with themselves and others. . . Various forms of meditation, typically in the mindfulness tradition, can be helpful for this.” – Grant Brenner

 

“Child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included as a form of child maltreatment” (World Health Organization, 2016)

 

This maltreatment is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health. It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts completely allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Self-Compassion and Psychological Health Among Young Adults With a History of Childhood Maltreatment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843003/), Joss and colleagues recruited meditation naïve adults who had experienced childhood maltreatment. They were randomly assigned either to a wait list or to receive a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program with 8 weekly, 2.5 hour sessions consisting of meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. They were also instructed to practice daily at home. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list controls, the participants who received the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program had significant decreases in perceived stress and anxiety and increases in self-compassion, with the greater the number of MBSR sessions attended the greater the size of the effects. They also found that the greater the severity of the childhood maltreatment the lower the effectiveness of the MBSR program. In addition, they found that the changes in mindfulness produced by MBSR affected both anxiety and stress both directly and indirectly via changes in self-compassion. So, higher mindfulness produced reductions in both anxiety and stress directly and also as a result of the changes in mindfulness producing increases in self-compassion that in turn produced reductions in anxiety and stress.

 

These results are not surprising as mindfulness training has been previously shown to reduce perceived stress and anxiety and increase self-compassion. But this study demonstrated that mindfulness training is effective for adults who experience maltreatment during childhood. Childhood maltreatment produces life-long negative consequences for the psychological health of the individual. The findings, then, are encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training can help in reducing these negative effects. It appears, though that the worse the maltreatment the harder it is for the mindfulness training to improve the victim’s mental health.

 

The findings suggest that mindfulness training improves the psychological health of childhood maltreatment victims, in part, by increasing the individual’s compassion for themselves. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, . . . and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” – (Kristin Neff).  Learning to have this compassion for oneself appears to be important for dealing with the consequences of childhood maltreatment. Mindfulness training can effectively elevate this self-compassion producing improved mental health.

 

So, improve the psychological health of survivors of childhood maltreatment with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness practice interventions in their various forms were found to have positive outcomes when addressing trauma children and adolescents and adults with childhood trauma.” – Margaret Fisher

 

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

 

Joss, D., Khan, A., Lazar, S. W., & Teicher, M. H. (2019). Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Self-Compassion and Psychological Health Among Young Adults With a History of Childhood Maltreatment. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2373. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02373

 

Abstract

Background

Individuals who were maltreated during childhood are faced with increased risks for developing various psychological symptoms that are particularly resistant to traditional treatments. This pilot study investigated the effects of a mindfulness based behavioral intervention for young adults with a childhood maltreatment history.

Methods

This study looked at self-report psychological questionnaires from 20 subjects (5 males) before and after a mindfulness-based behavioral intervention, compared to 18 subjects (6 males) in the waiting list control group (age range 22–29); all subjects experienced mild-to-moderate childhood maltreatment. We analyzed changes in stress, anxiety, depression, mindfulness and self-compassion related to the intervention with linear mixed effects models; we also analyzed the relationships among questionnaire score changes with partial correlation analyses and mediation analysis.

Results

Linear mixed effects model analyses revealed significant group by time interaction on stress (p < 0.01), anxiety (p < 0.05), and self-compassion (p < 0.01), with the mindfulness group having significant reduction in stress and anxiety (p < 0.01), and significant increase in mindfulness (p < 0.05) and self-compassion (p < 0.001). Partial correlation analyses showed that among all subjects from both groups, changes in mindfulness positively correlated with changes in self-compassion (r = 0.578, p = 0.001), which negatively correlated with changes in depression (r = −0.374, p = 0.05) and anxiety (r = −0.395, p < 0.05). Changes in self-compassion mediated, in part, the relationship between changes in mindfulness and changes in anxiety (average causal mediation effect = −4.721, p < 0.05). We observed a dose-dependent effect of the treatment, i.e., the number of intervention sessions attended were negatively correlated with changes in stress (r = −0.674, p < 0.01), anxiety (r = −0.580, p < 0.01), and depression (r = −0.544, p < 0.05), after controlling for the individual differences in childhood maltreatment severity.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that, to some extent, the mindfulness-based intervention can be helpful for improving self-compassion and psychological health among young adults with a childhood maltreatment history.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843003/

 

Reduce the Brain’s Emotional Reactivity with Meditation Practice

Reduce the Brain’s Emotional Reactivity with Meditation Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Of all the reasons people have for trying meditation, being less emotionally reactive is usually pretty high up.” – Alice G. Walton

 

There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that meditation practice has significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It has been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. Practitioners demonstrate more positive and less negative emotions and the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, while responding to them in appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

One way that meditation practices may produce these benefits is by altering the brain. The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of short- and long-term mindfulness meditation training on amygdala reactivity to emotional stimuli.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6671286/), Kral and colleagues recruited health adults who were meditation naïve or who were long term meditators having meditated daily for at least 3 years. They viewed pictures that were produced either positive or negative emotions while having their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI). They also rated the pictures emotional content. The meditation naïve participants were randomly assigned to receive either a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or health education program. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants were also encouraged to perform daily practice at home. After the 8-week training period the participants also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing the positive, neutral, and negative emotional pictures.

 

They found that the long-term meditators rated more pictures as neutral. This suggests that these meditators have reduced emotional responses to emotion evoking stimuli.  In addition, they had lower activations of the Amygdala on the right side in response to emotionally positive pictures than to neutral pictures. Following MBSR training the meditation naïve participants also had lower activations of the Amygdala on the right side in response to emotionally positive pictures and they also had greater functional connectivity between the Amygdala and the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex.

 

These results suggest that both long-term meditation practice and short-term training impacts the brain in such a way as to reduce the activation of a brain structure (right Amygdala) that is thought to underlie emotional reactivity in response to stimuli. It is interesting to note that the changes were detected on the right side of the brain only as the right side is thought to be the side of the brain that underlies emotion while the left side is thought to underlie more analytical and rational processes.

 

Short-term training appears to impact the ability of the Amygdala to affect the portion of the nervous system that is thought to underlie higher mental processes (Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex). That this increase in functional connectivity was not observed in long-term meditators suggests that over time the reduced activation of the Amygdala produced by meditation practice becomes sufficient by itself to reduce emotional reactivity.

 

It has long been established that mindfulness practices improve emotions and their regulation. The present study reveals underlying neuroplastic changes in the brain that are responsible for these changes in emotional reactivity. They further show that these changes are present after short-term meditation practice and in long-term meditation practitioners. Thus, the research is beginning to reveal not only the effects of meditation practice but also the changes in the brain that underlie these effects.

 

So, reduce the brain’s emotional reactivity with meditation practice.

 

meditation improves emotional health. . . people can acquire these benefits regardless of their ‘natural’ ability to be mindful. It just takes some practice.” – Yanli Lin

 

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

 

Kral, T., Schuyler, B. S., Mumford, J. A., Rosenkranz, M. A., Lutz, A., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Impact of short- and long-term mindfulness meditation training on amygdala reactivity to emotional stimuli. NeuroImage, 181, 301–313. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.07.013

 

Abstract

Meditation training can improve mood and emotion regulation, yet the neural mechanisms of these affective changes have yet to be fully elucidated. We evaluated the impact of long- and short-term mindfulness meditation training on the amygdala response to emotional pictures in a healthy, non-clinical population of adults using blood-oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Long-term meditators (N=30, 16 female) had 9,081 hours of lifetime practice on average, primarily in mindfulness meditation. Short-term training consisted of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (N=32, 22 female), which was compared to an active control condition (N=35, 19 female) in a randomized controlled trial. Meditation training was associated with less amygdala reactivity to positive pictures relative to controls, but there were no group differences in response to negative pictures. Reductions in reactivity to negative stimuli may require more practice experience or concentrated practice, as hours of retreat practice in long-term meditators was associated with lower amygdala reactivity to negative pictures – yet we did not see this relationship for practice time with MBSR. Short-term training, compared to the control intervention, also led to increased functional connectivity between the amygdala and a region implicated in emotion regulation – ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) – during affective pictures. Thus, meditation training may improve affective responding through reduced amygdala reactivity, and heightened amygdala–VMPFC connectivity during affective stimuli may reflect a potential mechanism by which MBSR exerts salutary effects on emotion regulation ability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6671286/

 

Improve Well-Being in Nurses with Mindfulness

Improve Well-Being in Nurses with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For nurses, many of them went into the field because of their ability to connect with people and make a difference in their lives. Mindfulness is a path to help us reconnect with what brings meaning to the profession. It brings humanity back to healthcare.” – Susan Bauer-Wu

 

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. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to reduce burnout and improve well-being in nurses.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness to promote nurses’ well-being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716566/), Penque recruited Registered Nurses (RNs). They participated in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 1-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The participants were also encouraged to perform daily practice at home. They were measured before and after training and 3 months later for mindfulness, self-compassion, serenity, interpersonal reactivity, work satisfaction, and burnout.

 

She found that following the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program there were significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion including  self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, serenity, and interpersonal reactivity including perspective taking, and empathetic concern. There were also significant decreases in burnout, isolation, overidentification, self-judgment, and personal distress. She also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of self-compassion and serenity.

 

The results must be interpreted with caution as there wasn’t a control, comparison, group. So, potential confounds such as placebo effects, experimenter bias, Hawthorne effects, etc. were present. Other, better controlled studies, however, have demonstrated that mindfulness training increases self-compassion and reduces burnout. So, it is likely that these same benefits of mindfulness training occurred here irrespective of confounding conditions.

 

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a complex of meditation, yoga, and body scan practices. It is not possible to determine which components or combination of components were responsible for the benefits. Regardless, the results suggest that MBSR training is a safe and effective program to improve the well-being of nurses and reduce burnout. This can not only improve the psychological health of the nurses but also improve the retention of these valuable and important healthcare workers.

 

So, improve well-being in nurses with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness can positively affect how nurses feel and cope with the pressures of their work, thereby resulting in better self-care and improved patient outcomes.” – Nursing Times

 

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

 

Penque S. (2019). Mindfulness to promote nurses’ well-being. Nursing management, 50(5), 38–44. doi:10.1097/01.NUMA.0000557621.42684.c4

 

This article examines the effects of MBSR on job-relevant factors, including mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, serenity, work satisfaction, incidental overtime, and job burnout. Nursing is a high-stress profession that may be taking a toll on our nurses. Mindfulness-based programs can help nurses develop skills to manage clinical stress and improve their health; increase overall attention, empathy, and presence with patients and families; and experience work satisfaction, serenity, decreased incidental overtime, and reduced job burnout.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6716566/