By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“These findings suggest that mindfulness training has both short-term and long-term effects on coping. These effects (six years on) were found despite poor to moderate adherence to formal mindfulness practice.” – de Vibe et al.
Mindfulness 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, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. The vast majority of studies of mindfulness, however, are conducted over relatively short periods of time, often without follow-up and if there is follow-up it is often only for a few weeks. Hence, it is not known whether mindfulness training has long-term persisting benefits that are detectable years later.
In today’s Research News article “Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5916495/ ), de Vibe and colleagues examine whether mindfulness training has detectable benefits 6 years after training. They recruited second year medical and clinical psychology students and randomly assigned them to either receive a 7-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or a no-treatment control condition. MBSR consists of training in meditation, yoga, and body scan. The students were measured at baseline and then one month and two, four and six years after training for mindfulness, well-being, coping, and class attendance.
“During the six-year follow-up period, students in the intervention group were invited to participate in optional 1.5-hour mindfulness booster sessions once every semester.” Two thirds of the students attended one or no booster sessions. “During the six-year follow-up period, the number of participants in the intervention group who reported to practice formal mindfulness exercises decreased from 112 of 140 (80%), one month after the intervention to 28 of 48 (58%), at six-year follow-up.”
They found that in comparison to the control group and regardless of attendance at booster sessions or home practice, participants in the MBSR training demonstrated higher levels of mindfulness, improved well-being, decreased avoidance coping, and increased problem focused coping at the six year follow-up. Hence mindfulness training resulted in improvements in mindfulness, well-being, and adaptive coping ability that lasted over a six years period with no trend toward weakening.
These are remarkable results that suggest that the benefits of mindfulness training are not fleeting, but rather last over substantial periods of time. To my knowledge, this is the first demonstration that the effects last for such a prolonged, 6-year, period. They underscore the ability of mindfulness training to fundamentally alter the individual’s approach to life resulting in relatively permanent improvements in their mental and physical well-being.
So, produce long lasting positive effects with mindfulness training.
“mindfulness exercises can result in long-lasting positive psychological effects, especially for people new to these experiences.” – Monique Tello
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Michael de Vibe, Ida Solhaug, Jan H. Rosenvinge, Reidar Tyssen, Adam Hanley, Eric Garland. Six-year positive effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindfulness, coping and well-being in medical and psychology students; Results from a randomized controlled trial, PLoS One. 2018; 13(4): e0196053. Published online 2018 Apr 24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196053
Longitudinal research investigating the enduring impact of mindfulness training is scarce. This study investigates the six-year effects of a seven-week mindfulness-based course, by studying intervention effects in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and coping skills, and the association between those change trajectories and subjective well-being at six-year follow-up. 288 Norwegian medical and psychology students participated in a randomized controlled trial. 144 received a 15-hour mindfulness course over seven weeks in the second or third semester with booster sessions twice yearly, while the rest continued their normal study curricula. Outcomes were subjective well-being, and dispositional mindfulness and coping assessed using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Ways of Coping Checklist. Analyses were performed for the intention-to-treat sample, using latent growth curve models. At six-year follow-up, students receiving mindfulness training reported increased well-being. Furthermore, they reported greater increases in the trajectory of dispositional mindfulness and problem-focused coping along with greater decreases in the trajectory of avoidance-focused coping. Increases in problem-focused coping predicted increases in well-being. These effects were found despite relatively low levels of adherence to formal mindfulness practice. The findings demonstrate the viability of mindfulness training in the promotion of well-being and adaptive coping, which could contribute to the quality of care given, and to the resilience and persistence of health care professionals.