Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Medical Students with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Medical students are being trained to have 100 things on their mind at all times. It’s harder and harder to focus on one thing explicitly. [Mindfulness] gives you that skill to know that you can focus on everything at once, but when you need to focus on one thing, you can be present with it.” – Chloe Zimmerman

 

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. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. 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 as it contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. It would be best to provide techniques to combat burnout early in a medical career. Studying medicine can be extremely stressful and many students show distress and express burnout symptoms. The undergraduate medical student level may be an ideal time to intervene.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/ )  Polle and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the effectiveness of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to improve the psychological well-being of undergraduate medical students. MBSR includes training in meditation, body scan, and yoga, and group discussions normally over an 8-week period. They identified 9 published studies.

 

They report that the published research found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced significant increases in undergraduate medical students mood, mental health, satisfaction with life, and self-compassion and significant reductions in psychological distress, perceived stress, and depression. One study followed up these students 6 years later and found persisting effects of MBSR.

 

The published research paints a clear picture that participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program produces lasting benefits for the psychological health of undergraduate medical students. This is important as stress and burnout is prevalent in the medical professions and intervening early may prevent or ameliorate future problems. Incorporation of MBSR into the undergraduate medical curriculum should be considered.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of medical students with mindfulness.

 

in medical students, higher empathy, lower anxiety, and fewer depression symptoms have been reported by students after participating in MSBR. In summary, mindfulness meditation may be used to elicit positive emotions, minimize negative affect and rumination, and enable effective emotion regulation.”- Michael Minichiello

 

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

 

Polle, E., & Gair, J. (2021). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students: a narrative review. Canadian medical education journal, 12(2), e74–e80. https://doi.org/10.36834/cmej.68406

 

Abstract

Background

Medical students are at high risk of depression, distress and burnout, which may adversely affect patient safety. There has been growing interest in mindfulness in medical education to improve medical student well-being. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a commonly used, standardized format for teaching mindfulness skills. Previous research has suggested that MBSR may be of particular benefit for medical students. This narrative review aims to further investigate the benefits of MBSR for undergraduate medical students.

Methods

A search of the literature was performed using MedLine, Embase, ERIC, PSYCInfo, and CINAHL to identify relevant studies. A total of 102 papers were identified with this search. After review and application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, nine papers were included in the study.

Results

MBSR training for medical students was associated with increased measures of psychological well-being and self-compassion, as well as improvements in stress, psychological distress and mood. Evidence for effect on empathy was mixed, and the single paper measuring burnout showed no effect. Two studies identified qualitative themes which provided context for the quantitative results.

Conclusions

MBSR benefits medical student well-being and decreases medical student psychological distress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105581/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being with Mindfulness Meditation-Based Interventions

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders, including different anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and chronic pain symptom reduction.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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

 

Over the last few decades, a vast amount of research has been published on the benefits of mindfulness practices on the mental and physical health of the practitioners. Many reviews, summarizations, and meta-analyses have been performed of these studies. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what these meta-analyses have found.

 

In today’s Research News article “The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf ) Goldberg and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of previous meta-analyses of published randomized controlled studies on benefits of sustained meditation practices on mental and physical well-being. They identified 44 published meta-analyses, representing 336 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 30,483 participants.

 

They report that the meta-analyses of published randomized controlled trials found that sustained mindfulness meditation practices in comparison to passive, no treatment, controls had a very wide range of beneficial effects across a wide range of participants from children to the elderly, over a variety of programs from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to mobile health, over a variety of psychological issues from anxiety to psychoses, and over a wide range of diseases from chronic pain to cancer. These effects were present immediately post treatment and at later follow-ups (an average of 7 months after treatment).

 

Comparison of these mindfulness meditation practices to active control conditions such as attentional controls to evidence-based treatments, resulted in reduced effect sizes and many were non-significant. Mindfulness meditation practices had significantly superior effects than active controls for adults, children, employees, and health care professionals/trainees but not for students. They were superior for psychiatric disorders, substance use, smoking, and depression but not for physical health conditions, pain, weight/eating-related conditions, cancer, or anxiety. They were superior for stress, and psychiatric symptoms but not for sleep, physical health symptoms, objective measures, or physiological measures.

 

These findings are essentially summaries of summaries and are based upon a wide variety of different researchers, methodologies, cultures, and time frames. Yet, the results are fairly consistent. In comparison to doing nothing, passive controls, mindfulness meditation practices are very beneficial for a wide range of physical and psychological issues over a wide range of ages. But these practices when compared to other types of treatments, are less effective and at times not superior. Nevertheless, this meta-analysis of meta-analyses paints a clear picture of the wide-ranging efficacy of mindfulness meditation practices for the relief of physical and psychological issues. These results verify the unprecedented depth and breadth of benefits of mindfulness meditation practices.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being with mindfulness meditation-based interventions.

 

Practicing mindfulness exercises can have many possible benefits, including: reduced stress, anxiety and depression, less negative thinking and distraction, and improved mood,” -Mayo Clinic

 

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

 

Goldberg, S. B., Riordan, K., Sun, S., & Davidson, R. J. (2021). The empirical status of mindfulness-based interventions: A systematic review of 44 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1–23, DOI: 10.1177/1745691620968771

 

Abstract

In response to questions regarding the scientific basis for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), we evaluated their empirical status by systematically reviewing meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We searched six databases for effect sizes based on ≥4 trials that did not combine passive and active controls. Heterogeneity, moderators, tests of publication bias, risk of bias, and adverse effects were also extracted. Representative effect sizes based on the largest number of studies were identified across a wide range of populations, problems, interventions, comparisons, and outcomes (PICOS). A total of 160 effect sizes were reported in 44 meta-analyses (k=336 RCTs, N=30,483 participants). MBIs showed superiority to passive controls across most PICOS (ds=0.10-0.89). Effects were typically smaller and less often statistically significant when compared to active controls. MBIs were similar or superior to specific active controls and evidence-based treatments. Heterogeneity was typically moderate. Few consistent moderators were found. Results were generally robust to publication bias, although other important sources of bias were identified. Reporting of adverse effects was inconsistent. Statistical power may be lacking in meta-analyses, particularly for comparisons with active controls. As MBIs show promise across some PICOS, future RCTs and meta-analyses should build upon identified strengths and limitations of this literature.

https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-publications/Goldberg-the-empirical-status.pdf

 

Increase Quality of Life and Decrease Weight of Patients with Diabetes with Tai Chi

Increase Quality of Life and Decrease Weight of Patients with Diabetes with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“a regular tai chi exercise program may help lower blood glucose levels, allowing people with diabetes to better control their disease.” – Lindsey Getz

 

Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type 2 Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Current treatments for Type 2 Diabetes focus on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetesTai Chi is mindfulness practice and a gentle exercise that has been found to improve the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. The research is accumulating. So, it is reasonable to examine what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: 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/PMC7851054/ ) Qin and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. They found 18 published research studies, 15 of which were randomized controlled studies.

 

They report that the published research found that patients with Type 2 Diabetes who practiced Tai Chi had significant improvements in their quality of life including physical function, pain, overall health, vitality, social function, emotional function, and mental health dimensions. The research also found that Tai Chi practice produced significant reductions in body size as reflected in the waist-hip ration and the body mass index (BMI), but the improvements were equivalent to that produced by other aerobic exercises.

 

These are important findings as Type 2 Diabetes is so impactful on the health and longevity of large numbers of patients. The results suggest that Tai Chi practice reduces body size which is very important in improving metabolic and glucose control. As a consequence, it greatly improves the quality of life of the patients. It appears from the research that the exercise component of Tai Chi practice is important for the improvements as other aerobic exercises produce similar effects.

 

Some advantages of Tai Chi practice include the facts that it is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It can also be practiced without professional supervision and in groups making it inexpensive to deliver and fun to engage in. This makes Tai Chi practice an excellent means to improve the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

 

So, increase quality of life and decrease weight of patients with diabetes with Tai Chi.

 

Tai Chi exercises can improve blood glucose levels and improve the control of type 2 diabetes and immune system response.” – Anna Sophia McKenney

 

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

 

Qin, J., Chen, Y., Guo, S., You, Y., Xu, Y., Wu, J., Liu, Z., Huang, J., Chen, L., & Tao, J. (2021). Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in endocrinology, 11, 543627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.543627

 

Abstract

Background

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a worldwide public health concern with high morbidity and various progressive diabetes complications that result in serious economic expenditure and social burden. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi on improving quality of life (QoL), body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR) in patients with T2DM.

Method

A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed following PRISMA recommendation. Four English databases and three Chinese databases were searched. The PEDro scale was used to assess the methodological quality of including studies. Study inclusion criteria: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental studies were included, patients with T2DM that adopted Tai Chi as intervention and QoL, BMI and/or WHR as outcome measurements.

Results

Eighteen trials were included. The aggregated results of seven trials showed that Tai Chi statistically significantly improved QoL measured by the SF-36 on every domains (physical function: MD = 7.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.76 to 13.71, p = 0.01; role-physical function: MD = 9.76, 95% CI = 6.05 to 13.47, p < 0.001; body pain: MD = 8.49, 95% CI = 1.18 to 15.8, p = 0.02; general health: MD = 9.80, 95% CI = 5.77 to 13.82, p < 0.001; vitality: MD = 6.70, 95% CI = 0.45 to 12.94, p = 0.04; social function: MD = 9.1, 95% CI = 4.75 to 13.45, p < 0.001; role-emotional function: MD = 7.88, 95% CI = 4.03 to 11.72, p < 0.001; mental health: MD = 5.62, 95% CI = 1.57 to 9.67, p = 0.006) and BMI (MD = −1.53, 95% CI = −2.71 to −0.36, p < 0.001) compared with control group (wait list; no intervention; usual care; sham exercise).

Conclusion

Tai Chi could improve QoL and decrease BMI for patients with T2DM, more studies are needed to be conducted in accordance with suggestions mentioned in this review.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851054/

 

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is recommended as a treatment for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity.

 

The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits. Mindfulness appears to work well in clinical settings. But does it work well when mindfulness is trained in groups in community settings. It makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based programmes for mental health promotion in adults in nonclinical settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799763/ ) Galante and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programs to improve mental health. They identified 136 trials including a total of 11,605 participants of the effectiveness of community-based group mindfulness programs.

 

They report that in comparison to no treatment controls, mindfulness-based programs produced significant improvements in anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and mental well-being. In comparison to non-therapeutic active controls mindfulness-based programs produced significant improvements in depression, and mental well-being. Finally, mindfulness-based programs did not appear to improve mental health to a greater extent that other therapeutic treatments. They further found that mindfulness-based programs appeared to work best for high-risk participants or those with subclinical levels of mental disorders.

 

There appears to be extensive research findings that suggest that group mindfulness-based programs in non-clinical, community, are as effective in improving mental health as other therapies. In particular they appear to decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress and increase mental well-being. But, these programs do not appear to further improve mental health in people who already have excellent mental health. This suggests that mindfulness-based community programs should be implemented to improve the mental health of at-risk individuals or those who have metal health issues.

 

So, improve mental health with mindfulness.

 

simple changes in lifestyle can lead to improved mental health and wellbeing.  Mindfulness is one such practice—with strong research supporting its usefulness for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or even just daily stress.” – U Minnesota

 

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

 

Galante, J., Friedrich, C., Dawson, A. F., Modrego-Alarcón, M., Gebbing, P., Delgado-Suárez, I., Gupta, R., Dean, L., Dalgleish, T., White, I. R., & Jones, P. B. (2021). Mindfulness-based programmes for mental health promotion in adults in nonclinical settings: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PLoS medicine, 18(1), e1003481. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003481

 

Abstract

Background

There is an urgent need for mental health promotion in nonclinical settings. Mindfulness–based programmes (MBPs) are being widely implemented to reduce stress, but a comprehensive evidence synthesis is lacking. We reviewed trials to assess whether MBPs promote mental health relative to no intervention or comparator interventions.

Methods and findings

Following a detailed preregistered protocol (PROSPERO CRD42018105213) developed with public and professional stakeholders, 13 databases were searched to August 2020 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) examining in–person, expert–defined MBPs in nonclinical settings. Two researchers independently selected, extracted, and appraised trials using the Cochrane Risk–of–Bias Tool 2.0. Primary outcomes were psychometrically validated anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and mental well–being questionnaires at 1 to 6 months after programme completion. Multiple testing was performed using p < 0.0125 (Bonferroni) for statistical significance. Secondary outcomes, meta–regression and sensitivity analyses were prespecified. Pairwise random–effects multivariate meta–analyses and prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated.

A total of 11,605 participants in 136 trials were included (29 countries, 77% women, age range 18 to 73 years). Compared with no intervention, in most but not all scenarios MBPs improved average anxiety (8 trials; standardised mean difference (SMD) = −0.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.80 to −0.33; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.19 to 0.06), depression (14 trials; SMD = −0.53; 95% CI −0.72 to −0.34; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.14 to 0.07), distress (27 trials; SMD = −0.45; 95% CI −0.58 to −0.31; p–value < 0.001; 95% PI −1.04 to 0.14), and well–being (9 trials; SMD = 0.33; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.54; p–value = 0.003; 95% PI −0.29 to 0.94). Compared with nonspecific active control conditions, in most but not all scenarios MBPs improved average depression (6 trials; SMD = −0.46; 95% CI −0.81 to −0.10; p–value = 0.012, 95% PI −1.57 to 0.66), with no statistically significant evidence for improving anxiety or distress and no reliable data on well–being. Compared with specific active control conditions, there is no statistically significant evidence of MBPs’ superiority. Only effects on distress remained when higher–risk trials were excluded. USA–based trials reported smaller effects. MBPs targeted at higher–risk populations had larger effects than universal MBPs. The main limitation of this review is that confidence according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach is moderate to very low, mainly due to inconsistency and high risk of bias in many trials.

Conclusions

Compared with taking no action, MBPs of the included studies promote mental health in nonclinical settings, but given the heterogeneity between studies, the findings do not support generalisation of MBP effects across every setting. MBPs may have specific effects on some common mental health symptoms. Other preventative interventions may be equally effective. Implementation of MBPs in nonclinical settings should be partnered with thorough research to confirm findings and learn which settings are most likely to benefit.

Author summary

Why was this study done?

Mindfulness courses to increase well–being and reduce stress have become very popular; most are in community settings.

Many randomised controlled trials (RCTs) tested whether mindfulness courses show benefit, but results are varied and, to our knowledge, there are no reviews combining the data from these studies to show an overall effect.

What did the researchers do and find?

Worldwide, we identified 136 RCTs on mindfulness training for mental health promotion in community settings. We reviewed them all, assessed their quality, and calculated their combined effects.

We showed that, compared with doing nothing, mindfulness reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and increases well–being, but we cannot be sure that this will happen in every community setting.

In these RCTs, mindfulness is neither better nor worse than other feel–good practices such as physical exercise, and RCTs in this field tend to be of poor quality, so we cannot be sure that our combined results represent the true effects.

What do these findings mean?

Mindfulness courses in the community need to be implemented with care, because we cannot assume that they work for everyone, everywhere.

We need good quality collaborative research to find out which types of communities benefit from the different types of mindfulness courses available.

The courses that work best may be those aimed at people who are most stressed or in stressful situations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799763/

 

Improve Recovery from Substance Abuse with Rolling Mindfulness Training

Improve Recovery from Substance Abuse with Rolling Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

By facilitating conscious awareness with a nonjudgmental perspective, mindfulness can decrease the vicious circles of anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression, guilt, regret, and shame that make so many recovering people vulnerable to relapse.” – Dan Mager

 

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem. There are estimated 22.2 million people in the U.S. with substance dependence. It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly ¼ million deaths yearly as a result of illicit drug use which includes unintentional overdoses, suicides, HIV and AIDS, and trauma. Obviously, there is a need to find effective methods to prevent and treat substance abuse. There are a number of programs that are successful at stopping the drug abuse, including the classic 12-step program emblematic of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, the majority of drug and/or alcohol abusers’ relapse and return to substance abuse. Hence, it is important to find an effective method to treat substance abuse and prevent relapse.

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve recovery from various addictions. Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has been developed to specifically assist in relapse prevention and has been shown to be effective. “MBRP integrates mindfulness practices with cognitive-behavioral Relapse Prevention therapy and aims to help participants increase awareness and acceptance of difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations to create changes in patterns of reactive behavior that commonly lead to relapse. Mindfulness training in MBRP provides clients with a new way of processing situational cues and monitoring internal reactions to contingencies, and this awareness supports proactive behavioral choices in the face of high-risk relapse situation.” – Grow et al. 2015

 

Typically, Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is administered with a group together from start to end. In practice in residential treatment programs, however, individuals enter treatment at different times. It would be important to examine whether MBRP with rolling admissions, where participants enter the therapy program at different times, is effective in treating substance abuse patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “An open trial of rolling admission mindfulness-based relapse prevention (Rolling MBRP): feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660179/) Roos and colleagues recruited residents in a short-term residential substance abuse disorders treatment program. They were provided 50 minute, twice per week, for 8 weeks group Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) program. Participants could enter the program at any time during a 10-month period. They were measured before and after treatment for abstinent days, dependence severity, self-compassion, mindfulness, mental health, craving, and self-efficacy.

 

They found that the participants completed, on average, 3.69 sessions and the participants rated the sessions as very helpful. They found that in comparison to baseline and patients who did not participate, the rolling Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) group had significantly decreased cravings, and increased mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion. In addition, for attendees, the greater the amounts of formal and informal mindfulness practice, the greater the improvements in cravings, mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

 

Prior studies demonstrated that mindfulness training improves mental health and self-compassion and is effective in improving the mental health of patients with a variety of addictions and in preventing substance abuse relapse. The present study is important in demonstrating that Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) offered on a rolling basis is also effective. Such a rolling entry treatment program is better suited to the intake of patients in residential substance abuse treatment programs and makes MBRP more useable in these programs.

 

So, improve recovery from substance abuse with rolling mindfulness training.

 

Learning about your personal triggers, developing the ability to breathe through discomfort, and creating a mindfulness based lifestyle in recovery can be lifesavers in both early sobriety and throughout the rest of your life.” -Clear Mind Treatment

 

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

 

Roos, C., Kirouac, M., Stein, E., Wilson, A., Bowen, S., & Witkiewitz, K. (2019). An open trial of rolling admission mindfulness-based relapse prevention (Rolling MBRP): feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms. Mindfulness, 10(6), 1062–1073. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1054-5

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) is an effective treatment for substance use disorders (SUD). However, evidence is primarily based on studies of closed groups, and few studies support flexible formats of MBRP, such as rolling groups. This nonrandomized, open trial evaluated feasibility, acceptability, dose-response relations, and mechanisms of rolling admission MBRP (“Rolling MBRP”) offered as part of short-term residential treatment for SUD. Rolling MBRP was developed prior to the trial through an iterative process over several years. Participants included 109 adults (46% female, 74.3% racial/ethnic minorities, mean age=36.40). Rolling MBRP was offered to all patients in the program 2x/week and attendance was tracked. Outcomes were craving, self-efficacy, mental health, mindfulness, and self-compassion at discharge. Self-reported out-of-session mindfulness practice was examined as a mediator of attendance-outcome relations. Analyses involved multiple regression and mediation models. Feasibility was demonstrated by good attendance rates. Acceptability was demonstrated by high engagement in mindfulness practice and high satisfaction ratings. Total sessions attended did not predict outcomes at discharge. However, attending 2+ sessions (versus 1 or none) significantly predicted better mental health and higher mindfulness at discharge, and these effects were mediated by informal and formal mindfulness practice. Total sessions attended had significant indirect effects on craving, self-compassion, mindfulness, and mental health, via mindfulness practice. Results support the feasibility and acceptability of Rolling MBRP and suggest mindfulness practice may be a key mechanism driving effects of MBRP on other key mechanisms during the recovery process, such as decreased craving and improved mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660179/

 

Mindfulness Improves Flexibility Which Improves Residual Symptoms of Depression

Mindfulness Improves Flexibility Which Improves Residual Symptoms of Depression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Living resiliently represents a whole new way of being and doing. It isn’t just for the hard times — it’s for all times. Empowering us to live, love, and work adventurously in the face of change, it builds a well from which we can draw for the rest of our lives.” – Lynda Klau

 

Depression affects over 6% of the population. Depression can be difficult to treat. It is usually treated with antidepressant medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. Even after remission there are a number of symptoms that remain. These include lingering dysphoria, impaired psychosocial functioning, fatigue, and decreased ability to work. These residual symptoms can lead to relapse.

 

Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs failAcceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy technique that is employs many of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ACT focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

It is not known how Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) might affect the residual symptoms in individuals in remission from depression. In today’s Research News article “Psychological Flexibility in Depression Relapse Prevention: Processes of Change and Positive Mental Health in Group-Based ACT for Residual Symptoms.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7119364/), Østergaard and colleagues recruited patients in remission from major depressive disorder and provided them with 8 weekly sessions of group based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). They were measured before and after ACT and 6 months and 1 year later for psychiatric symptoms, mental health depression, cognitive defusion, flexibility, values, engaged living and mindfulness.

 

They found that after treatment and for the year following there were significant reductions in depression and increases in positive mental health. Mediation analysis revealed that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) decreased depression and increased positive mental health directly and indirectly by increasing psychological flexibility. That is ACT not only directly decreased depression and increased positive mental health but also increased psychological flexibility which in turn decreased depression and increased positive mental health. They also showed that ACT had these effects by changing acceptance, cognitive defusion, values, and committed action, all of which increased psychological flexibility.

 

Psychological flexibility is the ability to make changes in behavior in order to produce positive effects. It’s the individual’s ability to avoid rumination and brooding over negative emotions that contribute to depression. In this way psychological flexibility contributes to maintaining positive mental health. The study shows that ACT directly reduces residual symptoms and also increases psychological flexibility which in turn reduces residual symptoms in patients in remission from major depressive disorder. It is important to note that these benefits produced by ACT were enduring lasting over the year of testing. Hence, treatment with ACT  should reduce the likelihood of future depressive episodes.

 

So, mindfulness improves flexibility which improves residual symptoms of depression.

 

Mindfulness is a shallow description of a much larger process that makes us resilient when bad things happen.” – Michael Unger

 

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

 

Østergaard, T., Lundgren, T., Zettle, R. D., Landrø, N. I., & Haaland, V. Ø. (2020). Psychological Flexibility in Depression Relapse Prevention: Processes of Change and Positive Mental Health in Group-Based ACT for Residual Symptoms. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 528. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00528

 

Abstract

Relapse rates following a depressive episode are high, with limited treatments available aimed at reducing such risk. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a cognitive-behavioral approach that has gained increased empirical support in treatment of depression, and thus represents an alternative in relapse prevention. Psychological flexibility (PF) plays an important role in mental health according to the model on which ACT is based. This study aimed to investigate the role of PF and its subprocesses in reducing residual symptoms of depression and in improving positive mental health following an 8-week group-based ACT treatment. Adult participants (75.7% female) with a history of depression, but currently exhibiting residual symptoms (N = 106) completed measures before and after intervention, and at 6 and 12-month follow-up. A growth curve model showed that positive mental health increased over 12-months. Multilevel mediation modeling revealed that PF significantly mediated these changes as well as the reduction of depressive symptoms, and that processes of acceptance, cognitive defusion, values and committed action, in turn, mediated increased PF.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7119364/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Physical and Mental Health

Spirituality is Associated with Better Physical and Mental Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. . . Spirituality also incorporates healthy practices for the mind and body, which positively influences mental health and emotional wellbeing.” – Luna Greestein

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Private religion/spirituality, self-rated health, and mental health among US South Asians.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297387/), Kent and colleagues recruited U.S. adults over 40 years of age of south Asian descent. They completed questionnaires on their health, daily spiritual experiences, gratitude, anxiety, anger, religious service attendance, religious affiliation, yoga practice, belief in God, closeness to God, positive religious coping, and divine hope. They were separated into a theistic group who believed in god and a non-theistic group who did not.

 

They found that in the total sample that the health of the participants was positively related to yoga practice, daily spiritual experiences and gratitude. Emotional functioning was positively related to gratitude and daily spiritual experiences. In addition, anxiety and anger were negatively associated with gratitude and daily spiritual experiences.

 

In the theistic subsample there were significant positive relationships between health and closeness to god and positive religious coping. There were significant positive relationships between emotional functioning and daily spiritual experiences, closeness to god and positive religious coping and negative relationships with negative religious coping. Anxiety and anger were related to negative religious coping and religious/spiritual struggles.

 

The results make it clear that religion and spirituality are associated with better physical and mental health. It should be noted that these results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It is equally likely that spirituality promotes mental and physical health, that people with better mental and physical health tend to be more religious and spirituality, or that a third factor is related to both. These results also have limited generalizability as they were obtained from a community sample of people in the U.S. of south Asian descent. They may not apply to other ethnic or religious groups.

 

Nevertheless, the results present a positive picture of religion and spirituality and its relationships to physical and mental health. Positive religious coping to stress involves the belief that god is guiding the individual for good reasons and this type of coping is associated with better mental health. On the other hand, negative religious coping to stress which involves belief that god is, for some reason, punishing the individual, has negative emotional consequences. So, religion and spirituality are double edged swords depending on how the individual interprets and employs them.

 

So, spirituality is associated with better physical and mental health.

 

positive associations have been found between some styles of religion/spirituality and general wellbeing, marital satisfaction and general psychological functioning.” – Deborah Cornah

 

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

 

Kent, B. V., Stroope, S., Kanaya, A. M., Zhang, Y., Kandula, N. R., & Shields, A. E. (2020). Private religion/spirituality, self-rated health, and mental health among US South Asians. Quality of life research : an international journal of quality of life aspects of treatment, care and rehabilitation, 29(2), 495–504. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-019-02321-7

 

Abstract

Purpose:

Connections between private religion/spirituality and health have not been assessed among U.S. South Asians. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between private religion/spirituality and self-rated and mental health in a community-based sample of U.S. South Asians.

Methods:

Data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study (collected 2010–2013 and 2015–2018) and the attendant Study on Stress, Spirituality, and Health (n=881) were analyzed using OLS regression. Self-rated health measured overall self-assessed health. Emotional functioning was measured using the Mental Health Inventory-3 index (MHI-3) and Spielberger scales assessed trait anxiety and trait anger. Private religion/spirituality measures included prayer, yoga, belief in God, gratitude, theistic and non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, positive and negative religious coping, divine hope, and religious/spiritual struggles.

Results:

Yoga, gratitude, non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were positively associated with self-rated health. Gratitude, non-theistic and theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were associated with better emotional functioning; negative coping was associated with poor emotional functioning. Gratitude and non-theistic spiritual experiences were associated with less anxiety; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anxiety. Non-theistic spiritual experiences and gratitude were associated with less anger; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anger.

Conclusion:

Private religion/spirituality are associated with self-rated and mental health. Opportunities may exist for public health and religious care professionals to leverage existing religion/spirituality for well-being among U.S. South Asians.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297387/

 

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

Improve Resilience and Inner Peace to Reduce Negative Views of the Past with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness promotes a more balanced time perspective, with a reduced focus on negative aspects of the past and negative anticipations of the future.” – Michael Rönnlund

 

Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and

future planning. Depression is characterized by a focus on the past while anxiety is characterized by focus on the future. This is representative of a past-negative time perspective which is a pessimistic negative view of what transpired in the past. Although awareness of the past and future are important, focus on the present moment generally leads to greater psychological health and well-being. This is generally characterized by inner peach which is a mild positive state with calmness and harmony in the mind. Although these concepts are well known, their interrelationships and the effect of meditation practice on them, have not been well studied.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/), Ge and colleagues recruited adults over the internet who regularly meditated and those who did not. They completed questionnaires measuring their meditation experience, mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and past-negative time perspective.

 

They found that mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace were all significantly and positively inter-related and negatively related to past-negative time perspective. They also found that the meditators had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and inner peace and lower levels of past-negative time perspective than the non-meditators. Structural equation modelling revealed that the negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective was mediated by the relationships of mindfulness with resilience and inner peace. That is the higher the levels of mindfulness the higher the levels of resilience and inner peace which in turn were related to lower levels of past-negative time perspective. Non-meditators also had an additional direct negative relationship between mindfulness and past-negative time perspective.

 

It should be kept in mind that these results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that mindfulness is associated with greater ability to cope with difficulties, resilience, greater calmness and mental harmony, inner peace, and a less negative pessimistic perspective of past events. In addition, mindfulness’ relationship with less past-negative time perspective, in part, occurs due to mindfulness’ relationship with resilience and inner peace.

 

It can be postulated that mindfulness produces a positive state that is resistant to disruption by events and this produces a more positive assessment of what occurred in the past. This, in turn, prevents the emergence of negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression. This may represent a mechanism whereby mindfulness alters the individual’s psychological makeup resulting in greater psychological health and well-being.

 

So, improve resilience and inner peace to reduce negative views of the past with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of each moment in your life. Each thought, feeling, sensation and experience are accepted for what it is. There’s no battle going on in your head and heart. You are open to it ALL.” – Bev Janisch

 

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

 

Ge, J., Yang, J., Song, J., Jiang, G., & Zheng, Y. (2020). Dispositional Mindfulness and Past-Negative Time Perspective: The Differential Mediation Effects of Resilience and Inner Peace in Meditators and Non-Meditators. Psychology research and behavior management, 13, 397–405. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S229705

 

Abstract

Purpose

Past-negative time perspective (PNTP) can affect our everyday lives and is associated with negative emotions, unhealthy behaviors, rumination, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dispositional mindfulness may be able to reduce the negative effects of PNTP; however, few studies have investigated their relationship. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the effect dispositional mindfulness has on PNTP, as well as the mediating role of resilience and inner peace in this regard.

Methods

This study investigated the cross-sectional relationship between self-reported mindfulness, resilience, inner peace, and PNTP. In order to further explore the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP, this study specially selected and analyzed the samples of 185 meditators and 181 non-meditators.

Results

Correlation analysis revealed that mindfulness is significantly positively correlated with resilience and inner peace. Conversely, PNTP is significantly negatively correlated with mindfulness, resilience, and inner peace. Structural equation model analysis revealed that resilience and inner peace partially mediated the relationship between mindfulness and PNTP. Furthermore, a multi-group analysis showed that the mediating effects are different between meditators and non-meditators. For meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was fully mediated by resilience and inner peace. For non-meditators, the effect of mindfulness on PNTP was only partially mediated by resilience and inner peace.

Conclusion

Based on the significant differences between the mediational models of meditators and non-meditators, we believe that dispositional mindfulness can negatively predict PNTP, and practicing meditation consistently improves dispositional mindfulness, resilience and inner peace and effectively reduces PNTP. Our findings indicate that a combination of mindfulness and PNTP could be used to design new psychological interventions to reduce the symptoms of mental health concerns such as negative bias, rumination, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212969/

 

Yoga Practitioners have Better Physical and Psychological Health

Yoga Practitioners have Better Physical and Psychological Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.” – Rachel Link

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. One way to look at the benefits of yoga practice is to look at the mental and physical health of yoga practitioners.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits and behaviours.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044896/ ), Cartwright and colleagues performed an online survey of yoga practitioners in the UK. They were asked to answer questions regarding yoga practice, meditation practice, body size, health, well-being, psychological health, smoking, diet, alcohol intake, fruit/vegetable intake, exercise apart from yoga, satisfaction with life, perceived stress, yoga impacts on health, and yoga related injuries.

 

They found that in comparison to the norms for the UK the yoga practitioners were higher in overall health, fruit/vegetable intake, exercise apart from yoga, happiness, and satisfaction with life, and lower in body size, smoking, alcohol intake, and perceived stress. The yoga practitioners believed that yoga practice improved their physical and mental health, stress levels, strength, flexibility, and sleep. Correlation analysis revealed that the higher the frequency of yoga practice the higher the levels of well-being, satisfaction with life, and happiness and the lower the levels of perceived stress.

 

These are interesting results but it should be kept in mind that the findings may represent differences in the people who chose to engage in a yoga practice rather than due to yoga practice itself. Regardless, the survey revealed that yoga practitioners are generally physically and psychologically healthy, engage in healthier behaviors, and believe that yoga practice is responsible for these benefits. Previous controlled studies have revealed that yoga practice improves the physical and psychological health of the participants. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the survey results are due, at least in part, to the beneficial effects of yoga practice.

 

So, improve physical and psychological health with yoga practice.

 

“On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. And on a psychological level, yoga can help you cultivate mindfulness as you shift your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise.” – Linda Schlamadinger McGrath

 

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

 

Cartwright, T., Mason, H., Porter, A., & Pilkington, K. (2020). Yoga practice in the UK: a cross-sectional survey of motivation, health benefits and behaviours. BMJ open, 10(1), e031848. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031848

 

Abstract

Objectives

Despite the popularity of yoga and evidence of its positive effects on physical and mental health, little is known about yoga practice in the UK. This study investigated the characteristics of people who practise yoga, reasons for initiating and maintaining practice, and perceived impact of yoga on health and well-being.

Design, setting and participants

A cross-sectional online anonymous survey distributed through UK-based yoga organisations, studios and events, through email invites and flyers. 2434 yoga practitioners completed the survey, including 903 yoga teachers: 87% were women, 91% white and 71% degree educated; mean age was 48.7 years.

Main outcome measures

Perceived impact of yoga on health conditions, health outcomes and injuries. Relationships between yoga practice and measures of health, lifestyle, stress and well-being.

Results

In comparison with national population norms, participants reported significantly higher well-being but also higher anxiety; lower perceived stress, body mass index and incidence of obesity, and higher rates of positive health behaviours. 47% reported changing their motivations to practise yoga, with general wellness and fitness key to initial uptake, and stress management and spirituality important to current practice. 16% of participants reported starting yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition. Respondents reported the value of yoga for a wide range of health conditions, most notably for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions. 20.7% reported at least one yoga-related injury over their lifetime. Controlling for demographic factors, frequency of yoga practice accounted for small but significant variance in health-related regression models (p<0.001).

Conclusion

The findings of this first detailed UK survey were consistent with surveys in other Western countries. Yoga was perceived to have a positive impact on physical and mental health conditions and was linked to positive health behaviours. Further investigation of yoga’s role in self-care could inform health-related challenges faced by many countries.

Strengths and limitations of this study:

  • This is the first comprehensive survey to assess the practice and perceived impact of yoga on health, lifestyle-related behaviours and well-being in the UK.
  • The survey design captures the significant number of practitioners who take up yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition, and identifies health conditions for which yoga is rated as most helpful in self-management.
  • Despite the large sample, it was self-selected and unlikely to be representative of all yoga practitioners.
  • The results relied on retrospective and self-report data which may be subject to memory bias and social desirability.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044896/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Health in Trauma Victims with Bikram Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The steamy temps “allow you to increase their range of motion and stretch deeper within each pose,” since heat makes muscles more pliable, says Numbers. Unlike stretching it out in a standard cool yoga studio, the heat will have you feeling like a pro and extending further than you thought you could.” – Aryelle Siclait

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Trauma can produce troubling physical and psychological symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat the effects of trauma. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for trauma survivors.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to improve physical well-being and cardiovascular health. Bikram Yoga is somewhat unique yoga practice as it employs a set sequence of 26 poses (asanas) and two breathing exercises. It is practiced in a heated environment (105°F, 40.6°C, 40% humidity) and there is a unique programmed instructional dialogue. The hot environment is thought to soften the muscles making them more pliable and loosen the joints making them more flexible allowing the practitioner to go deeper into poses. The sweating that occurs is thought to help remove toxins and impurities.

 

In today’s Research News article “#MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/), Flehr and colleagues recruited adult pre-menopausal women who had persistent pain and who had experienced trauma. They were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of 3 sessions per week of Bikram Yoga (90 minutes) or High Intensity Interval Training (45 minutes). The women were measured before and after training for pain severity, pain interference with quality of life, health, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, disorders of extreme stress, self-efficacy, life stressors, mindfulness, body size, and electrocardiogram (EKG) measures.

 

They found that pain significantly decreased for both groups. On the other hand, Bikram Yoga produced significantly greater improvements in physical functioning, mental health, and heart rate variability with moderate to large effect sizes. No intervention related injuries were reported. Heart rate variability has been shown to measure greater parasympathetic nervous system activity reflecting better overall health.

 

The results suggest that although both programs produced decreased pain intensity, Bikram Yoga was superior to a comparable high intensity exercise in improving the physical and mental health of trauma survivors with persistent pain. A strength of the study is that the Bikram Yoga intervention was compared to another high intensity exercise program, thus reducing the likelihood of participant expectancy effects. Hence Bikram Yoga appears to be a safe and effective treatment for women who have experienced trauma. It would be interesting in the future to compare the Bikram Yoga program to a comparable yoga program practiced at room temperature.

 

So, improve physical and mental health in trauma victims with Bikram Yoga.

 

Hot yoga addresses all aspects of physical fitness including muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and weight loss. . . . There is no other style of yoga that addresses the overall health of the body in such a comprehensive way.” – Peter Mason

 

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

 

Flehr, A., Barton, C., Coles, J., Gibson, S. J., Lambert, G. W., Lambert, E. A., … Dixon, J. B. (2019). #MindinBody – feasibility of vigorous exercise (Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training) to improve persistent pain in women with a history of trauma: a pilot randomized control trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 234. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2642-1

 

Abstract

Background

The neurobiology of persistent pain shares common underlying psychobiology with that of traumatic stress. Modern treatments for traumatic stress often involve bottom-up sensorimotor retraining/exposure therapies, where breath, movement, balance and mindfulness, are used to target underlying psychobiology. Vigorous exercise, in particular Bikram yoga, combines many of these sensorimotor/exposure therapeutic features. However, there is very little research investigating the feasibility and efficacy of such treatments for targeting the underlying psychobiology of persistent pain.

Methods

This study was a randomized controlled trail (RCT) comparing the efficacy of Bikram yoga versus high intensity interval training (HIIT), for improving persistent pain in women aged 20 to 50 years. The participants were 1:1 randomized to attend their assigned intervention, 3 times per week, for 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and further pain related biopsychosocial secondary outcomes, including SF-36 Medical Outcomes and heart rate variability (HRV), were also explored. Data was collected pre (t0) and post (t1) intervention via an online questionnaire and physiological testing.

Results

A total of 34 women were recruited from the community. Analyses using ANCOVA demonstrated no significant difference in BPI (severity plus interference) scores between the Bikram yoga (n = 17) and the HIIT (n = 15). Women in the Bikram yoga group demonstrated significantly improved SF-36 subscale physical functioning: [ANCOVA: F(1, 29) = 6.17, p = .019, partial eta-squared effect size (ηp2) = .175 and mental health: F(1, 29) = 9.09, p = .005, ηp2 = .239; and increased heart rate variability (SDNN): F(1, 29) = 5.12, p = .013, ηp2 = .150, scores compared to the HIIT group. Across both groups, pain was shown to decrease, no injuries were experienced and retention rates were 94% for Bikram yoga and 75% for HIIT .

Conclusions

Bikram yoga does not appear a superior exercise compared to HIIT for persistent pain. However, imporvements in quality of life measures and indicator of better health were seen in the Bikram yoga group. The outcomes of the present study suggest vigorous exercise interventions in persistent pain cohorts are feasible.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6714085/