Increase Positive Feelings About Caregiving for Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Increase Positive Feelings About Caregiving for Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“caregivers of cancer patients face under-recognized health challenges. “Studies have suggested that caregivers are more depressed than patients themselves. There is also a reciprocal relationship between caregivers and patients, so improving quality of life for caregivers could improve patient outcomes.” – Sarah Stanley

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the U.S. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Family members are an increasingly important source of caregiving. But it comes with a cost to the caregiver. Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for both the caregiver and the patients. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in decreasing the psychological difficulty of caring for a patient with cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Learning Improves Positive Feelings of Cancer Patients’ Family Caregivers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352041/ ), Geng and colleagues recruited caregivers for cancer patients and randomly assigned them to receive either 4, 30-minute, mindfulness training sessions or mindlessness training. The mindfulness training involved “innovation classification” in which they were asked to “think and write four answers from different perspectives to a picture-related question.” The mindlessness condition involved writing answers to the same pictures but from only one perspective. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, caregiver reactions, and positive aspects of caregiving.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and the mindlessness group, that after training the mindfulness group had significantly higher mindfulness and positive feelings toward caregiving. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness, the greater the positive feelings toward caregiving.

 

These results suggest that a simple form of mindfulness training can improve caregiver’s mindfulness and feeling about caregiving for cancer patients. It remains for future research to demonstrate if these benefits are lasting and can result in improved care for the patients and less stress and burnout for the caregivers.

 

So, increase positive feelings about caregiving for cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“We are set up for short-term stress, but caregiving is long-term stress. Mindfulness is basically coming back into the present moment, so it works to inhibit the stress response. Most of us run around listening to our thoughts, and this is particularly true of caregivers, who are driven by the to-do list. They are never at rest.” – Joan Griffiths Vega

 

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

 

Geng, L., Wang, J., Cheng, L., Zhang, B., & Shen, H. (2019). Mindful Learning Improves Positive Feelings of Cancer Patients’ Family Caregivers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(2), 248. doi:10.3390/ijerph16020248

 

Abstract

Positive feelings are an important health dimension for family caregivers of cancer patients. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Langerian mindfulness is a valid proactive method to increase the positive feelings of family caregivers for cancer patients. Participants were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness group or a mindlessness group and completed the Caregiver Reaction Assessment (CRA) as a measure of caregivers’ feelings before the intervention. Subsequently, both groups were given four sessions of mindfulness training using “innovation classification”. Finally, participants completed the Langer Mindfulness Scale (LMS) and the Positive Aspects of Caregiving (PAC) scale as post-intervention measures. The results revealed that participants in the mindfulness and mindlessness groups differed significantly in LMS and PAC scores, with the mindfulness group having higher levels of positive feelings than those in the mindlessness group. The results also indicated that mindfulness level significantly predicted positive feelings of caregivers. Thus mindful interventions may play a meaningful role in promoting family caregivers’ spirituality and faith, improving the willingness of sharing their thoughts, beliefs, and grief, which could be useful for increasing the positive feelings of caregivers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352041/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“the key to reducing caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue lies in what can be construed to some as the seemingly counter intuitive wisdom of mindfulness. Being mindful and engaging in radical self-care is proving to be one of the most effective ways to take care of your loved one while fortifying yourself.” – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

Fragile X Syndrome is an incurable genetic disorder that involves the FMR1 gene on the X Chromosome. This gene is involved in promotion communications between neurons in the nervous system. This disorder affects about 200,000 children a year in the US and is characterized by trouble learning skills like sitting, crawling, or walking, problems with language and speech, hand-flapping and not making eye contact, temper tantrums, poor impulse control, anxiety, extreme sensitivity to light or sound, and hyperactivity and trouble paying attention. Some children with fragile X also have changes to their face and body that can include a large head, long, narrow face, large ears, a large forehead and chin, loose joints, and flat feet.

 

Needless to say, raising these children can be a challenge and place considerable stress on the caregivers. Caregiving exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. The challenges of caring for a child with Fragile X Syndrome requires that the individual be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. So, it is not surprising that mindfulness improves caregiving and assists the caregiver in coping with the stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Acceptance as Potential Protective Factors for Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232517/ ), Wheeler and colleagues administered an online survey to mothers of children with Fragile X Syndrome. They measured the severity of the child’s disability, perceived stress, mindfulness, mindful parenting, anxiety, depression, physical health, and psychological acceptance. They then performed a regression analysis to explore the relationships between these variables.

 

They found that overall the mothers were high in perceived stress and anxiety. The child’s symptoms took their toll as the greater the severity of the child’s disability the higher the levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms in the mothers. They also found that mindfulness and acceptance appeared to buffer these effects with high levels of mindfulness and acceptance associated with low levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms and high levels of mindful parenting associated with low levels of anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms. Importantly, acceptance attenuated the effect of the child’s disability the lower the levels of physical symptoms. Being mindful and accepting of the child’s condition and behavior were very highly associated with reduced maternal distress.

 

These results are interesting but they are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that mindfulness, mindful parenting, and acceptance are important for dealing with the deleterious effects of caring for a child with Fragile X Syndrome. Previous research has shown that mindfulness can produce improvements in the caregiver’s psychological state. So, it is likely that there is a causal connection between mindfulness and the psychological state of caregivers for children with Fragile X Syndrome.

 

These results suggest that training in mindfulness, mindful parenting, and acceptance may be greatly beneficial for mothers caring for children with Fragile X Syndrome, reducing their distress and potentially improving their caregiving for the child. This is a difficult situation for the mothers and such help could be greatly beneficial.

 

So, improve the psychological health of mothers of children with Fragile X Syndrome with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness practices could be helpful for these caregivers because they encourage a nonjudgmental interpretation of their child’s situation, and increased acceptance of their reality. Mindfulness practices also help people observe their thoughts and behaviors with less reactivity and judgment, which could enable caregivers to better respond to the emotional and physical difficulties they encounter.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Wheeler, A. C., Miller, S., Wylie, A., & Edwards, A. (2018). Mindfulness and Acceptance as Potential Protective Factors for Mothers of Children With Fragile X Syndrome. Frontiers in public health, 6, 316. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00316

 

Abstract

Women with an FMR1 premutation may be at increased genetic risk for stress vulnerability. This increased vulnerability, when combined with stressful parenting that can result from raising children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), may result in negative physical and emotional outcomes. Mindfulness and acceptance have been found to be protective factors for parents of children with similar behavioral challenges, but these traits have not previously been explored among mothers with a child with FXS. This study explored the associations of child disability severity with maternal stress, anxiety, depression, and physical health symptoms in 155 biological mothers of children with FXS. Women completed an online survey using standardized measures of stress, mindfulness, and acceptance. General mindfulness, mindfulness in the parenting role, and general acceptance were explored as potential protective factors between the child disability severity and maternal outcomes. Trait mindfulness and acceptance were significant predictors of lower stress, anxiety, depression, and daily health symptoms, while mindful parenting was associated with lower stress, anxiety, and depression. Acceptance was found to attenuate the effects of child severity on maternal stress and depression. These findings suggest that interventions focused on improving mindfulness and acceptance may promote health and well-being for mothers of children with FXS and have important health implications for all individuals with an FMR1 premutation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232517/

 

Improve the Well-Being of Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“people who care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the home experienced a decrease in perceived stress and mood disturbance when practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Another trial indicates that MBSR was “more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress, and decreasing depression” than those who only participated in a caregiver education and support intervention.” – Heather Stang

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. This places tremendous psychological and financial stress on the caregiver. Hence, there is a need to both care for the dementia patients and also for the caregivers. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving. In addition, mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6008507/ ), Berk and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for both the patients with dementia and their caregivers.

 

They found that the literature reports that mindfulness training can help patients with mild cognitive decline by improving memory. They also report that mindfulness training improves the quality of life and depression in dementia patients and their caregivers when they are trained in mindfulness together. They further found that the research reports that mindfulness training helps the caregivers for the dementia patient by lowering perceived stress levels and depression and improving their quality of life. Hence, it appears that mindfulness training improves the well-being of both dementia patients and their caregivers.

 

These results fit with previous findings that mindfulness training in general improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress, depression, cognitive function, and quality of life in a wide variety of patients and healthy individuals of all ages. The results further suggests that training the dementia patient and their caregiver together is feasible and may have additional benefits for both.

 

So, improve the well-being of dementia patients and their caregivers with mindfulness.

 

“The disease is challenging for the affected person, family members, and caregivers. Although they know things will likely get worse, they can learn to focus on the present, deriving enjoyment in the moment with acceptance and without excessive worry about the future. This is what was taught in the mindfulness program.” – Ken Paller

 

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

 

Berk, L., Warmenhoven, F., van Os, J., & van Boxtel, M. (2018). Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 982. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982

 

Abstract

The world population is aging and the prevalence of dementia is increasing. By 2050, those aged 60 years and older are expected to make up a quarter of the population. With that, the number of people with dementia is increasing. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia. The progression of symptoms with no hope of improvement is difficult to cope with, both for patients and their caregivers. New and evidence-based strategies are needed to support the well-being of both caregiver and patient. Mindfulness training is a body-mind intervention that has shown to improve psychological well-being in a variety of mental health conditions. Mindfulness, a non-judgmental attention to one’s experience in the present moment, is a skill that can be developed with a standard 8-week training. Research has shown preliminary but promising results for mindfulness-based interventions to benefit people with dementia and caregivers. The aim of this review is (a) to provide a rationale for the application of mindfulness in the context of dementia care by giving an overview of studies on mindfulness for people with dementia and/or their caregivers and (b) to provide suggestions for future projects on mindfulness in the context of dementia and to give recommendations for future research.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6008507/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Dementia Patients and their Caregivers with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Dementia Patients and their Caregivers with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness training eases depression and improves sleep and quality of life for both people with early-stage dementia and their caregivers. . . . Mindfulness involves attentive awareness with acceptance for events in the present moment. You don’t have to be drawn into wishing things were different. Mindfulness training in this way takes advantage of people’s abilities rather than focusing on their difficulties.” – Marla Paul

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. This places tremendous psychological and financial stress on the caregiver. Hence, there is a need to both care for the dementia patients and also for the caregivers. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving. In addition, mindfulness training has been found to help protect aging individuals from physical and cognitive declines.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Training for People with Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_686352_69_Psycho_20180626_arts_A ), Berk and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the application of mindfulness training for the treatment for dementia patients and their caregivers.

 

They find that the published research reports that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being of caregivers for dementia patients. It significantly reduces depression and anxiety and improves self-efficacy. Studies of mindfulness training for the dementia patients themselves report improvements in attention, memory, cognition, and quality of life. When the patients and their caregivers were both trained in mindfulness there were significant improvements in stress responses and mood in both.

 

These are important findings that strongly suggests that mindfulness training is a safe and effective means to improve the psychological well-being of both the dementia patient and their caregiver. Given the great difficulty and stress produced by dementia on both the patient and caregiver, these improvements are very important to relieve or at least mitigate the suffering of both. This suggests that mindfulness training should be routinely provided for dementia patients and their caregivers.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of dementia patients and their caregivers with mindfulness.

 

“The dementia journey is hugely challenging and provokes in us a great deal of frustration, fear and dread—understandably. But as much as dementia is described as a journey of loss, it can also become a journey of love and understanding. At times, love needs to be gritty and determined; at other times, it will be sweet. At all times it must be unconditional.” – Alice Ashwell

 

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

 

Berk L, Warmenhoven F, van Os J and van Boxtel M (2018) Mindfulness Training for People With Dementia and Their Caregivers: Rationale, Current Research, and Future Directions. Front. Psychol. 9:982. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982

 

Abstract

The world population is aging and the prevalence of dementia is increasing. By 2050, those aged 60 years and older are expected to make up a quarter of the population. With that, the number of people with dementia is increasing. Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia. The progression of symptoms with no hope of improvement is difficult to cope with, both for patients and their caregivers. New and evidence-based strategies are needed to support the well-being of both caregiver and patient. Mindfulness training is a body-mind intervention that has shown to improve psychological well-being in a variety of mental health conditions. Mindfulness, a non-judgmental attention to one’s experience in the present moment, is a skill that can be developed with a standard 8-week training. Research has shown preliminary but promising results for mindfulness-based interventions to benefit people with dementia and caregivers. The aim of this review is (a) to provide a rationale for the application of mindfulness in the context of dementia care by giving an overview of studies on mindfulness for people with dementia and/or their caregivers and (b) to provide suggestions for future projects on mindfulness in the context of dementia and to give recommendations for future research.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00982/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_686352_69_Psycho_20180626_arts_A

 

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

Improve Caregivers Emotion Regulation with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Caregivers have a habit of neglecting their own wellbeing for their patients’ sakes. Some caregivers even believe taking a few minutes out of the day to practice mindfulness is “selfish.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness everyday will improve the quality of care you can give to your patient. It should be mandatory that all caregivers practice some form of mindfulness today” – Caregiver Space

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for both the caregiver and the patients. But, this is reactive, working with already stressed caregivers. It is important to be able to be proactive and better prepare caregivers to withstand the difficulties and stress of caregiving and provide better care for patients. In today’s Research News article “Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/ ), Lamothe and colleagues investigate the effects of mindfulness training on the emotion regulation ability of psychology students and professional caregivers.

 

They recruited psychology students in a university and professional caregivers in a pediatric hematology-oncology unit of a hospital. They were provided a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program was presented for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks with 30-minute daily home practice. It consisted of discussion and meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. They were measured before and after the program and 3 months later for mindfulness, empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation.

 

They found that in both groups there were large increases in mindfulness that were maintained 3 month later. In addition, they found that there were significant improvements after training in empathy, emotional competencies, recognition of emotions in others, identification of emotions in others, emotional acceptance, and emotion regulation, with the exception that the caregivers change in recognition of emotions in others was not statistically significant. At the 3-month follow-up they found that there were still significant improvements in identifying emotions and emotional acceptance.

 

These results are preliminary as there wasn’t a comparison, control, condition. As such, they are interpreted as a proof of concept. To reach firm conclusions a randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control condition is necessary. The results are interesting and powerful enough that such an extensive study is warranted. Nevertheless, the results provide preliminary evidence that mindfulness training improves the emotional competences of both students and professional caregivers. This suggests that mindfulness training can be used both for practicing caregivers and those in training. Hence, mindfulness training may be helpful both reactively and proactively to promote the emotional health of the caregivers and, in turn, provide better care.

 

So, improve caregivers emotion regulation with mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness practices can help both caregivers and their loved ones maintain their emotional well-being. This is important for two reasons. First, strong emotional well-being is a good defense against such stress-related problems as depression and anxiety. Second, emotional well-being supports the resiliency that makes a person’s life not just tolerable, but enjoyable and meaningful: restful sleep, invigorating exercise, healthful food and some form of spiritual or emotional nourishment.” – Adam Perlman

 

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

 

Lamothe, M., McDuff, P., Pastore, Y. D., Duval, M., & Sultan, S. (2018). Developing professional caregivers’ empathy and emotional competencies through mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): results of two proof-of-concept studies. BMJ Open, 8(1), e018421. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018421

 

Abstract

Objectives

To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention and determine if the intervention is associated with a significant signal on empathy and emotional competencies.

Design

Two pre–post proof-of-concept studies.

Setting

Participants were recruited at the University of Montreal’s Psychology Department (Study 1) and the CHU Sainte-Justine Department of Hematology-Oncology (Study 2).

Participants

Study 1: 12 students completed the 8-week programme (mean age 24, range 18–34). Study 2: 25 professionals completed the 8-week programme (mean age 48, range 27–63).

Intervention

Standard MBSR programme including 8-week mindfulness programme consisting of 8 consecutive weekly 2-hour sessions and a full-day silent retreat.

Outcomes measures

Mindfulness as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; empathy as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI)’s Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern subscales; identification of one’s own emotions and those of others as measured by the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC)’s Identify my Emotions and Identify Others’ Emotions subscales; emotional acceptance as measured by the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) and the Emotion Regulation Scale (ERQ)’s Expressive Suppression subscale; and recognition of emotions in others as measured by the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test (GERT).

Results

In both studies, retention rates (80%–81%) were acceptable. Participants who completed the programme improved on all measures except the PEC’s Identify Others’ Emotions and the IRI’s Empathic Concern (Cohen’s d median=0.92, range 45–1.72). In Study 2, favourable effects associated with the programme were maintained over 3 months on the PEC’s Identify my Emotions, the AAQ-II, the ERQ’s Expressive Suppression and the GERT.

Conclusions

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

The programme was feasible and acceptable. It was associated with a significant signal on the following outcomes: perspective taking, the identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance, thus, justifying moving towards efficacy trials using these outcomes.

 

Strengths and limitations of this study

Two feasibility studies of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)-based intervention in students and professionals had high attendance rates and acceptability levels.

Results suggested a significant clinical signal on most measured outcomes in the domains of emotion regulation and empathy, with effects lasting at follow-up for identification of one’s own emotions and emotional acceptance.

The same pattern of results was obtained in two independent small-scale studies.

A limitation to theses studies is that samples were not randomly selected, had limited size, and no control groups were used.

Another limitation is that most outcomes were self-reported and could be subject to desirability bias.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5781061/

 

Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Functioning of Autistic Children and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“A weekly mindfulness session for children with autism and a separate program for their parents showed promising results. After nine weekly sessions of mindfulness training, 21 adolescents with autism reported better quality of life and less time spent wandering in thought about topics like sadness, pain, and why they react to things the way they do. Parents reported that their children were more socially responsive. Parents also reported reduced stress and less frequent use of “dysfunctional parenting styles,” such as shouting.” – Sarah Hansen

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that tends to appear during early childhood and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. It affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others, delays learning of language, makes eye contact or holding a conversation difficult, impairs reasoning and planning, narrows and intensifies interests, produces poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities, and is frequently associated with sleep and gastrointestinal problems. ASD is a serious disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to lead independent lives including complete an education, enter into relationships or find and hold employment. It is also difficult and stressful for the caregivers.

 

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been increasing markedly over the last couple of decades. It is currently estimated that over 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Its causes are unknown and there are no known cures. Treatment is generally directed at symptoms and can include behavioral therapies and drug treatments. Clearly, there is a need for effective alternative treatment options.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in treating ASD.  In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/ ), Ridderinkhof and colleagues examined the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the social and psychological health of children and their families.

 

They recruited children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents and provided the child and one or both parents separately with a 9-week mindfulness training program. The sessions occurred once a week for 1.5 hours. For the children the sessions included breathing meditation, body scan, a 3-min breathing space, and yoga practices. For the parents the sessions also focused on mindful parenting. Home practice was encouraged. Before and after training and 2 months and one year later, the children were measured through self- and parental report for social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, and mindfulness. Parents were assessed for their social communications, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindfulness, and parental stress.

 

They found that after treatment and 2 months and one year later the parents reported that the children showed significant improvement in social communications and attention and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, and rumination. The parents showed significant improvements in their social communications, attention mindfulness, and self-compassion and significant decreases in externalizing and internalizing symptoms, perceived stress, stress concerning parenting, and over-reactivity,. Hence, the mindfulness training appeared to produce significant improvements in both the children with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.

 

The results, however, have to be interpreted very cautiously. This study ran for over a year and there was no comparison condition. During that time the children mature, learn in school, and have additional experiences and the parents continue to learn how to cope with their child’s ASD. So, the observed improvements may have occurred anyway, even without the mindfulness training. The results, though are encouraging and suggest that a randomized controlled trial is justified. ASD is such a difficult issue for the child and the parents that the investment in further study is needed.

 

So, improve the social, emotional, and behavioral functioning of autistic children and their parents with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness practices may be a viable technique in not only improving behavioral and cognitive responses in those with ASD, but also the overall well-being of their caregivers.” – Krupa Patel

 

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

 

Ridderinkhof, A., de Bruin, E. I., Blom, R., & Bögels, S. M. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: Direct and Long-Term Improvements. Mindfulness, 9(3), 773–791. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0815-x

 

A combined mindfulness-based program for children and their parents (MYmind) was beneficial for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study, we investigated whether this program is also beneficial for younger children with ASD, whether effects last on the long-term, and whether it reduces common comorbid problems. Forty-five children referred with ASD aged 8 until 19 years old, and their parents participated. Repeated measures of children’s and parents’ social communication problems, emotional and behavioral functioning, mindful awareness, and of parenting were conducted pre-intervention, post intervention, 2-month follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. While children did not report significant changes in mindful awareness, their social communication problems decreased, and their emotional and behavioral functioning improved. Results were not consistent at each occasion; improvements reported by children were most substantial at a 2-month follow-up and only partly remained at a 1-year follow-up, while all children’s improvements as reported by parents were present on all occasions. Parents themselves reported improved emotional and behavioral functioning, improved parenting, and increased mindful awareness on all occasions. Parents’ social communication problems reduced only directly after the intervention. Most improvements were supported by the qualitative investigation of children’s and parents’ experienced change as reported on open-ended questions. This study suggests that children, including adolescents, with ASD and their parents can benefit from a mindfulness-based program with parallel sessions for children and parents.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968048/

 

Improve Dementia Caregiver Psychological Health and Stress with Mindfulness

Improve Dementia Caregiver Psychological Health and Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“people who care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the home experienced a decrease in perceived stress and mood disturbance when practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR).” – Heather Stang

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. For Alzheimer’s disease, there are an estimated 10 million caregivers providing 9 billion hours of care at a value of over $100 Billion dollars.

 

Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting and all too frequent task. It is an intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. In the last year, 59% of caregivers report that they are effectively on duty 24/7. Over time dementia will lead to loss of memory, loss of reasoning and judgment, personality and behavioral changes, physical decline, and death. The memory and personality changes in the patient may take away all those characteristics that make the loved one identifiable, unique, and endearing, producing psychological stress in the caregiver.

 

The feelings of hopelessness can be overwhelming regarding the future of a patient with an irreversible terminal degenerative illness. In addition, caregivers often experience an anticipatory grief associated with a feeling of impending loss of their loved one. If this isn’t bad enough, a little appreciated consequence is that few insurance programs cover dementia care outside of the hospital. So, medical expenses can produce extra financial strain on top of the loss of income for the caregiver. It is sad that 72% of caregivers report relief when their loved one passes away. Obviously, there is a need to care for the caregivers of dementia patients. They play an essential and often irreplaceable role. So, finding ways to ease the burden is extremely important. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Caregivers of Family Members with Dementia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5070659/ ), Brown and colleagues recruited adult family members providing caregiving for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week, once a week for 2 hours, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or a Social Support program. Participants were measured before and after the programs and 3 months later for perceived stress, experiential avoidance, mood states, physical and mental health, caregiver burden, and quality of relationship between the caregiver and care recipient. They also provided saliva samples to measure cortisol levels.

 

They found that both MBSR and Social Support produced significant improvements in experiential avoidance, depression, vitality, fatigue, confusion, and physical and mental health. They also found that MBSR also produced significant improvements in perceived stress, tension, and anger while Social Support produced significant improvement in caregiver burden. Unfortunately, these effects were not sustained at the 3-month follow-up.

 

Hence, it appears that both MBSR and Social Support are effective in improving caregivers’ psychological well-being, but only temporarily. MBSR appears to be superior to Social Support in providing these benefits. The stress of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease is immense and the importance of the relief provided by these programs cannot be overemphasized. But, the study clearly demonstrates a need for future research to investigate means to prolong the effectiveness of these programs.

 

So, improve dementia caregiver psychological health and stress with mindfulness.

 

“One of the major difficulties that individuals with dementia and their family members encounter is that there is a need for new ways of communicating due to the memory loss and other changes in thinking and abilities. The practice of mindfulness places both participants in the present and focuses on positive features of the interaction, allowing for a type of connection that may substitute for the more complex ways of communicating in the past. It is a good way to address stress.” – Marla Paul

 

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

 

Brown, K. W., Coogle, C. L., & Wegelin, J. (2016). A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Caregivers of Family Members with Dementia. Aging & Mental Health, 20(11), 1157–1166. http://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2015.1065790

 

Abstract

Objectives

The majority of care for those with Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related dementias is provided in the home by family members. To date there is no consistently effective intervention for reducing the significant stress burden of many family caregivers. The present pilot randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of an adapted, 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, relative to a near structurally equivalent, standard Social Support (SS) control condition for reducing caregiver stress and enhancing the care giver-recipient relationship.

Method

Thirty-eight family caregivers were randomized to MBSR or SS, with measures of diurnal salivary cortisol, and perceived stress, mental health, experiential avoidance, caregiver burden, and relationship quality collected pre- and post-intervention and at 3-month follow-up.

Results

MBSR participants reported significantly lower levels of perceived stress and mood disturbance at post-intervention relative to SS participants. At 3-month follow-up, participants in both treatments conditions reported improvements on several psychosocial outcomes. At follow-up there were no condition differences on these outcomes, nor did MBSR and SS participants differ in diurnal cortisol response change over the course of the study.

Conclusion

Both MBSR and SS showed stress reduction effects, and MBSR showed no sustained neuroendocrine and psychosocial advantages over SS. The lack of treatment condition differences could be attributable to active ingredients in both interventions, and to population-specific and design factors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5070659/

 

Improve Dementia Patient Caregiver Mental Health and Reduce Stress with Mindfulness

Improve Dementia Patient Caregiver Mental Health and Reduce Stress with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“To my mother, I owe the experience of being with her since the beginning of her dementia, and the ability to notice what a difference mindfulness practice made in our relationship. From feeling only grief, to a growing acceptance of her in the moment, even appreciating new aspects of her personality that became freed as a result of her condition.” – Marguerite Manteau-Rao

 

Dementia is a progressive loss of mental function produced by degenerative diseases of the brain. Dementia patients require caregiving particularly in the later stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. For Alzheimer’s disease alone, there are an estimated 10 million caregivers providing 9 billion hours of care at a value of over $100 Billion dollars.

 

Caregiving for dementia patients is a daunting and all too frequent task. It is an intense experience that can go on for four to eight years with increasing responsibilities as the loved one deteriorates. In the last year, 59% of caregivers report that they are effectively on duty 24/7. Over time dementia will lead to loss of memory, loss of reasoning and judgment, personality and behavioral changes, physical decline, and death. The memory and personality changes in the patient may take away all those characteristics that make the loved one identifiable, unique, and endearing, producing psychological stress in the caregiver.

 

The feelings of hopelessness can be overwhelming regarding the future of a patient with an irreversible terminal degenerative illness. In addition, caregivers often experience an anticipatory grief associated with a feeling of impending loss of their loved one. If this isn’t bad enough, a little appreciated consequence is that few insurance programs cover dementia care outside of the hospital. So, medical expenses can produce extra financial strain on top of the loss of income for the caregiver. It is sad that 72% of caregivers report relief when their loved one passes away.

 

Obviously, there is a need to care for the caregivers of dementia patients. They play an essential and often irreplaceable role. So, finding ways to ease the burden is extremely important. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training for psychological stress in family caregivers of persons with dementia: 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/PMC5626236/, Liu and colleagues review and summarize the published Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of mindfulness training on the psychological state of caregivers for dementia patients.

 

They identified 7 published Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). The studies employed a variety of different mindfulness training techniques; including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and meditation practice. They report that the published studies find that mindfulness training produces a significant decrease in depression and perceived stress, a trend toward decreased anxiety, and significant improvement in mental health quality of life. The importance of these findings is underscored by the fact that these were all well controlled scientific studies of high quality. Hence, mindfulness training appears to be of significant help to caregivers of dementia patients improving their mental health and quality of life.

 

It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training improves anxiety, depression, and quality of life, and reduces stress in a wide variety of populations. So, it is not surprising that it has similar effectiveness for these caregivers. The magnitude of the burden on these caregivers, however, is such that the improvements produced by mindfulness training are a blessing. Hence, mindfulness training should be incorporated into routing support and treatment programs for caregivers of dementia patients.

 

So, improve dementia patient caregiver mental health and reduce stress with mindfulness.

 

“One of the major difficulties that individuals with dementia and their family members encounter is that there is a need for new ways of communicating due to the memory loss and other changes in thinking and abilities. The practice of mindfulness places both participants in the present and focuses on positive features of the interaction, allowing for a type of connection that may substitute for the more complex ways of communicating in the past.” – Sandra Weintraub

 

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, Z., Chen, Q., & Sun, Y. (2017). Mindfulness training for psychological stress in family caregivers of persons with dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 12, 1521–1529. http://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S146213

 

Abstract

Caring for a relative with dementia is extremely challenging; conventional interventions may not be highly effective or easily available on some occasions. This study aimed to explore the efficacy of mindfulness training in improving stress-related outcomes in family caregivers of people with dementia using a meta-analytic review. We searched randomized controlled trials (RCT) through April 2017 from five electronic databases, and assessed the risk of bias using the Cochrane Collaboration tool. Seven RCTs were included in our review. Mindfulness interventions showed significant effects of improvement in depression (standardized mean difference: −0.58, [95% CI: −0.79 to −0.37]), perceived stress (−0.33, [−0.57 to −0.10]), and mental health-related quality of life (0.38 [0.14 to 0.63]) at 8 weeks post-treatment. Pooled evidence did not show a significant advantage of mindfulness training compared with control conditions in the alleviation of caregiver burden or anxiety. Future large-scale and rigorously designed trials are needed to confirm our findings. Clinicians may consider the mindfulness program as a promising alternative to conventional interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5626236/

Improve Caregiver and Cirrhosis Patient Psychological Health with Mindfulness

Improve Caregiver and Cirrhosis Patient Psychological Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness practices also help people observe their thoughts and behaviors with less reactivity and judgment, which could enable caregivers to better respond to the emotional and physical difficulties they encounter.” – Emily Nauman

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Liver disease affects about 3.9 million people and Cirrhosis kills nearly 40,000 people each year. Providing care for an individual with end stage liver disease has not been seriously studied. The challenges of caring for an individual with cirrhosis require that the individual be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. So, it is not surprising that mindfulness improves caregiving and assists the caregiver in coping with the stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy Improves Patient and Caregiver-Reported Outcomes in Cirrhosis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539344/, Bajaj and colleagues recruited patients with cirrhosis and their caregivers. The majority of the caregivers were women and spouses. They measured the patients before and after treatment for depression, anxiety, sleep quality, sleepiness, health related quality of life, and sickness impact. Caregivers were also measured for depression, anxiety, sleep quality, caregiving burden and perceived caregiver burden. Both patients and their caregivers received a 4-week program of modified structured Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with discussions of barriers and strategies to deal with stress. The program included training in Qigong (gentle movements), body scan, progressive relaxation, and loving kindness meditation. Patients and caregivers were encouraged to practice these skills at home.

 

They found that following treatment the patients showed significant improvements in depression, sleep quality, and health related quality of life. In addition, they found that after treatment the caregivers had significant improvements in depression, sleep quality, caregiving burden and perceived caregiver burden. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce depression, improve sleep and health related quality of life, and caregiving in a wide variety of healthy and ill individuals. So, it is not surprising that the modified MBSR program produced similar significant benefits for both the cirrhosis patients and their caregivers. It is encouraging that a relatively brief (4 week) program can have such positive benefits.

 

The study did not have a control condition. So, unequivocal conclusions cannot be reached. But, the results are sufficiently encouraging to justify the implementation of a large scale randomized controlled clinical trial including an active control condition of the effectiveness of MBSR training for cirrhosis patients and their caregivers.

 

So, improve caregiver and cirrhosis patient psychological health with mindfulness.

 

“When it comes to embracing mindfulness as a caregiver, start with asking yourself questions. How can you look at ways to reduce stress so you don’t take on the entire thing as your job and you have to do everything? When you’re more intentional, you can look at what is truly needed in this picture to help the care recipient and ask who might be supportive besides yourself and how can you involve other resources?” – Nancy Kriseman

 

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

 

Bajaj, J. S., Ellwood, M., Ainger, T., Burroughs, T., Fagan, A., Gavis, E. A., … Wade, J. B. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy Improves Patient and Caregiver-Reported Outcomes in Cirrhosis. Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, 8(7), e108–. http://doi.org/10.1038/ctg.2017.38

 

Abstract

Objectives:

Patient-reported outcomes such as health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are impaired in cirrhosis due to under-treated mood and sleep disorders, which can adversely impact their caregivers. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can improve patient-reported outcomes (PRO) in non-cirrhotic patients but their impact in cirrhosis is unclear. To evaluate the effect of MBSR and supportive group therapy on mood, sleep and HRQOL in cirrhotic patients and their caregivers.

Methods:

Cirrhotic outpatients with mild depression (Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)>14) on screening with an adult caregiver were enrolled. At baseline, BDI, sleep (Pittsburgh sleep quality index PSQI, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, ESS), anxiety (Beck Anxiety inventory) and HRQOL (Sickness Impact Profile, SIP) for both patients/caregivers and caregiver burden (Zarit Burden Interview Short-form, ZBI-SF and perceived caregiver burden, PCB) and patient covert HE(CHE) status were measured. Patients who had BDI>14 at baseline, along with their caregivers then underwent a structured MBSR program with four weekly hour-long group sessions interspersed with home practice using CDs. After the last group, all questionnaires were repeated.

Results:

20 patient/caregiver dyads were included. All patients were men (60±8 years MELD 12.9±5.7, 14 prior hepatic encephalopathy (HE)) while most caregivers (n=15) were women (55±12 years, 23±14 years of relationship, 65% spouses). There was no change in patient BDI between screening and baseline (20.1±11.2 vs. 19.0±10.6, P=0.81). All dyads were able to complete the four MBSR+supportive group therapy sessions. There was a significant improvement in BDI (19.0±10.6 vs.15.6±8.2 P=0.01), PSQI (7.2±3.7 vs. 5.5±3.7, P<0.001) and overall HRQOL (25.0±13.2 vs. 17.7±14.0,P=0.01) but not in anxiety or CHE rates in patients. Similarly caregiver burden (ZBI-SF13.0±9.0 vs. 9.8±6.9,P=0.04, Perceived burden 72.1±29.9 vs. 63.0±14.5,P=0.05) and depression reduced (BDI 9.1±7.8 vs. 5.9±6.0,P=0.03) while caregiver sleep quality (7.2±3.7 vs. 5.5±3.7,P<0.001) improved. Prior HE did not affect PRO change after MBSR+supportive groups but the ZBI-SF of caregivers taking care of HE patients improved to a greater extent (delta −1.1±6.5 vs. 7.4±5.3 HE, P=0.04).

Conclusion:

A short program of mindfulness and supportive group therapy significantly improves PRO and caregiver burden in cirrhotic patients with depression. This non-pharmacological method could be a promising approach to alleviate psychosocial stress in patients with end-stage liver disease and their caregivers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539344/

Improve Caregiving for Family Members with Mental Illness with On-Line Mindfulness Training

Improve Caregiving for Family Members with Mental Illness with On-Line Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When specifically used with family caregivers, MBSR improves overall mental health, reduces stress and decreases depression. “ – Jane Hamilton

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Providing care for a relative with mental illness can be particularly challenging. Mental illnesses can make it difficult to relate to the individual and receive the kind of positive feelings that can support caregiving. The challenges of caring for a relative with mental illness require that the individual be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction. So, it is not surprising that mindfulness improves caregiving and assists the caregiver in coping with the stress.

 

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

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness and Usability of a Web-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Families Living with Mental Illness.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408047/, Stjernswärd and Hansson recruited adult participants who have a family member with a diagnosed mental illness. They were randomized into a mindfulness training and a wait-list control group. Mindfulness training occurred on-line and consisted of audio/video files, descriptive text files, and instructions for daily mindfulness exercises, and self-compassion exercises. It was recommended that participants engage in the training twice a day for 10 minutes, six days per week for 8 weeks. recommended training was set to 2 × 10 min/day, 6 days/week for 8 consecutive weeks.

 

Participants were measured before and after training and 3-months later for mindfulness, caregiver quality of life, self-compassion, and perceived stress. They found that mindfulness training produced significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, and caregiver quality of life, including relational problems, mental health, and problems with daily activities and significant reductions in perceived stress.

 

These are interesting results but must be tempered with the knowledge that the control condition was a no-treatment, wait-list control. So, the results could be due to confounding factors such as placebo effects, experimenter bias, attention effects, etc. But, they suggest that mindfulness training for caregivers with family members with mental illnesses can be successfully delivered on-line. If the results are supported by better controlled trials, they could be important in that improvements in the mental health and quality of life can be offered to caregivers in a convenient and inexpensive format. This could be very helpful in relieving a difficult situation for the caregivers and result in improved caregiving.

 

So, improve caregiving for family members with mental illness with on-line mindfulness training.

 

5 Steps to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

  1. Develop a mindfulness practice, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or Qigong.
  2. Incorporate mini-mindfulness moments. Set aside time several times a day to ground yourself and to be in the present moment.
  3. Learn to accept your emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, rather than wishing them away.
  4. Recognize the need for self-care in caregiving. Taking time for yourself may be an old piece of advice but it’s essential.
  5. Find a support network that can help you build a mindfulness practice, whether it is your friend, the YMCA, or a meditation group.” – Jason Drwal

 

 

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

Stjernswärd, S., & Hansson, L. (2017). Effectiveness and Usability of a Web-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Families Living with Mental Illness. Mindfulness, 8(3), 751–764. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0653-2

 

Abstract

Families living with mental illness express needs of support and experiences of burden that may affect their own health detrimentally and hence also their ability to support the patient. Mindfulness-based interventions have shown beneficial health effects in both clinical and healthy populations. The aim of the current study was to explore the effectiveness and usability of a web-based mindfulness program for families living with mental illness, which was first tested in a feasibility study. The study was designed as a randomized controlled trial with an experiment group and a wait-list control group with assessments on primary and secondary outcomes at baseline, post-intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. Significant positive improvements in mindfulness and self-compassion, and significant decreases in perceived stress and in certain dimensions of caregiver burden were found, with good program usability. Easily accessible mindfulness-based interventions may be useful in addressing caregivers’ needs of support and in preventing further ill health in caregivers. Further studies are needed, among others, to further customize interventions and to investigate the cost-effectiveness of such programs.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408047/