Mindfulness Taught in Person or Online Improves Psychological Well-Being

Mindfulness Taught in Person or Online Improves Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The practice of a face-to-face or an online MBSR course reduces general psychological distress regardless of the course modality.” – Tomás Esteban Sard-Peck

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, training over the internet has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of internet training versus live instruction in reducing stress and improving psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparing the Effectiveness of Virtual and In-Person Delivery of Mindfulness-Based Skills Within Healthcare Curriculums.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9043883/ ) Hoover and colleagues recruited students studying to become physicians assistants. They received either no treatment or a 5 session mindfulness training delivered either in person or virtually. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, decentering, flexibility, perceived stress, and satisfaction with life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the not-treatment group both groups that received mindfulness training had significant increases in mindfulness, psychological flexibility, and satisfaction with life and significant decreases in perceived stress. Hence, mindfulness training, regardless of whether it is delivered in person or virtually, improves the psychological well-being of students. This is important as virtual delivery of mindfulness training is much more convenient for busy, stressed students.

 

In person and virtual mindfulness training produces equivalent improvement in psychological health.

 

Mindfulness training programs were proven to be effective in improving well-being and reducing perceived stress in several populations (especially those prone to burnout) and conditions. These effects were also found in online training.” – Francesco Bossi

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hoover, E. B., Butaney, B., Bernard, K., Coplan, B., LeLacheur, S., Straker, H., Carr, C., Blesse-Hampton, L., Naidu, A., & LaRue, A. (2022). Comparing the Effectiveness of Virtual and In-Person Delivery of Mindfulness-Based Skills Within Healthcare Curriculums. Medical science educator, 1–14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-022-01554-5

 

Abstract

Purpose

To promote well-being, healthcare education programs have incorporated mindfulness-based skills and principles into existing curriculums. Pandemic-related restrictions have compelled programs to deliver content virtually. Study objectives were to determine (1) whether teaching mindfulness-based skills within physician assistant (PA) programs can promote well-being and (2) whether delivery type (virtual vs. in-person) can impact the effectiveness.

Methods

During this 2-year study, a brief mindfulness-based curriculum was delivered to incoming first-year students at six PA programs, while students at two programs served as controls. The curriculum was delivered in-person in year one and virtually in year two. Validated pre- and post-test survey items assessed mindfulness (decentering ability, present moment attention and awareness, and psychological flexibility) and well-being (perceived stress and life satisfaction).

Results

As expected, coping abilities and well-being were adversely impacted by educational demands. The mindfulness-based curriculum intervention was effective in increasing mindfulness and life satisfaction, while decreasing perceived stress when delivered in-person. Virtual curricular delivery was effective in decreasing perceived stress but not improving life satisfaction. Over half of the participants receiving the curriculum reported positive changes on mindfulness measures with approximately 14–38% reporting a change of greater than one standard deviation. Changes on mindfulness measures explained 30–38% of the reported changes in perceived stress and 22–26% of the changes in life satisfaction. Therefore, the mindfulness curriculum demonstrated statistically significant improvements in measures of mindfulness and mitigated declines in life satisfaction and perceived stress.

Conclusion

Mindfulness-based skills effectively taught in-person or virtually within PA programs successfully promote well-being.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9043883/

 

Improve Persistence of Meditation with a Fixes Anchor to Daily Life

Improve Persistence of Meditation with a Fixes Anchor to Daily Life

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies. But in order for meditation to be beneficial it must be practiced. There needs to be developed methods to improve the persistence of meditation practice over time. One method might be to anchor it to a set daily habit.

 

In today’s Research News article “Using Personalized Anchors to Establish Routine Meditation Practice With a Mobile App: Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8734923/ ) Stecher and colleagues recruited subscribers to the “Calm” meditation app who had not yet established a practice. They were asked to engage in meditation for 10 minutes per day using the app for 8 weeks and were sent a daily reminder to meditate. They were randomly assigned to receive wither no further instructions, instructions to use a personalized anchor, or instructions to use a fixed anchor. The participants in the personalized anchor condition were asked to select a consistent existing routine such a drinking morning coffee and meditate after that. The fixed ancho participant were instructed to meditate daily after brushing teeth. Their daily use of the app was recorded over the 8-week intervention period and for 8 more weeks.

 

They found that all groups declined in their likelihood of meditating over the intervention and follow-up period. But the group that used the fixed anchor declined significantly less than the other groups. Hence, using a fixed anchor for meditation improves persistence of daily meditation.

 

So, to produce consistent daily meditation create a fixed anchor point in the daily routine for meditation.

 

To meditate successfully one needs to be like the long-distance runner who accepts whatever terrain he encounters.” – Ananda

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Stecher, C., Sullivan, M., & Huberty, J. (2021). Using Personalized Anchors to Establish Routine Meditation Practice With a Mobile App: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 9(12), e32794. https://doi.org/10.2196/32794

 

Abstract

Background

Physical and mental health benefits can be attained from persistent, long-term performance of mindfulness meditation with a mobile meditation app, but in general, few mobile health app users persistently engage at a level necessary to attain the corresponding health benefits. Anchoring or pairing meditation with a mobile app to an existing daily routine can establish an unconsciously initiated meditation routine that may improve meditation persistence.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to test the use of either personalized anchors or fixed anchors for establishing a persistent meditation app routine with the mobile app, Calm.

Methods

We conducted a randomized controlled trial and randomly assigned participants to one of 3 study groups: (1) a personalized anchor (PA) group, (2) fixed anchor (FA) group, or (3) control group that did not use the anchoring strategy. All participants received app-delivered reminder messages to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day using the Calm app for an 8-week intervention period, and app usage data continued to be collected for an additional 8-week follow-up period to measure meditation persistence. Baseline, week 8, and week 16 surveys were administered to assess demographics, socioeconomic status, and changes in self-reported habit strength.

Results

A total of 101 participants across the 3 study groups were included in the final analysis: (1) PA (n=56), (2) FA (n=49), and (3) control group (n=62). Participants were predominantly White (83/101, 82.2%), female (77/101, 76.2%), and college educated (ie, bachelor’s or graduate degree; 82/101, 81.2%). The FA group had a significantly higher average odds of daily meditation during the intervention (1.14 odds ratio [OR]; 95% CI 1.02-1.33; P=.04), and all participants experienced a linear decline in their odds of daily meditation during the 8-week intervention (0.96 OR; 95% CI 0.95-0.96; P<.001). Importantly, the FA group showed a significantly smaller decline in the linear trend of their odds of daily meditation during the 8-week follow-up (their daily trend increased by 1.04 OR from their trend during the intervention; 95% CI 1.01-1.06; P=.03). Additionally, those who more frequently adhered to their anchoring strategy during the intervention typically used anchors that occurred in the morning and showed a significantly smaller decline in their odds of daily meditation during the 8-week follow-up period (1.13 OR; 95% CI 1.02-1.35; P=.007).

Conclusions

The FA group had more persistent meditation with the app, but participants in the FA or PA groups who more frequently adhered to their anchoring strategy during the intervention had the most persistent meditation routines, and almost all of these high anchorers used morning anchors. These findings suggest that the anchoring strategy can create persistent meditation routines with a mobile app. However, future studies should combine anchoring with additional intervention tools (eg, incentives) to help more participants successfully establish an anchored meditation routine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8734923/

Live Mindfulness Training is More Effective than Recorded Training in Reducing Stress.

Live Mindfulness Training is More Effective than Recorded Training in Reducing Stress.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“You get to a point in your meditation practice, when guided meditation just isn’t helpful or necessary. But until you reach that point, it can be incredibly useful to have someone giving you instructions as you meditate.” – Hannah Knapp

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, training over the internet has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of internet training versus live instruction in reducing stress and improving psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relative Contributions of Live and Recorded Online Mindfulness Training Programs to Lower Stress in the Workplace: Longitudinal Observational Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8817217/ ) Wolever and colleagues examined the perceived stress scores of participants of a 30-day online mindfulness program the contained live instruction and recordings of the live trainings.

 

They found that the greater the practice over the month the greater the reduction in perceived stress. But this was true for live trainings and not for recorded trainings. Participants who engaged in live trainings had significant reductions in stress while those who viewed recorded teachings did not.

 

These results suggest that live trainings, even when presented over the internet, have greater impact on stress than the same trainings presented as recordings. It is possible that highly stressed participants don’t have the flexibility in their schedules to attend trainings at scheduled times (live trainings) but can attend trainings at times conducive to their own schedules.

 

online mindfulness-based treatment was considered as an innovative and effective approach in terms of the reduction of . . . stress among the general population.” – Yun Zhang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wolever, R. Q., Finn, M., & Shields, D. (2022). The Relative Contributions of Live and Recorded Online Mindfulness Training Programs to Lower Stress in the Workplace: Longitudinal Observational Study. Journal of medical Internet research, 24(1), e31935. https://doi.org/10.2196/31935

 

Abstract

Background

Despite numerous gaps in the literature, mindfulness training in the workplace is rapidly proliferating. Many “online” or “digital mindfulness” programs do not distinguish between live teaching and recorded or asynchronous sessions, yet differences in delivery mode (eg, face-to-face, online live, online self-guided, other) may explain outcomes.

Objective

The aim of this study was to use existing data from an online mindfulness solutions company to assess the relative contribution of live and recorded mindfulness training to lower perceived stress in employees.

Methods

Perceived stress and the amount of live and recorded online mindfulness training accessed by employees were assessed during eMindful’s One-Percent Challenge (OPC). The OPC is a 30-day program wherein participants are encouraged to spend 1% of their day (14 minutes) practicing mindfulness meditation on the platform. We used linear mixed-effects models to assess the relationship between stress reduction and usage of components of the eMindful platform (live teaching and recorded options) while controlling for potential reporting bias (completion) and sampling bias.

Results

A total of 8341 participants from 44 companies registered for the OPC, with 7757 (93.00%) completing stress assessments prior to the OPC and 2360 (28.29%) completing the postassessment. Approximately one-quarter of the participants (28.86%, 2407/8341) completed both assessments. Most of the completers (2161/2407, 89.78%) engaged in the platform at least once. Among all participants (N=8341), 8.78% (n=707) accessed only recorded sessions and 33.78% (n=2818) participated only in the live programs. Most participants engaged in both live and recorded options, with those who used any recordings (2686/8341, 32.20%) tending to use them 3-4 times. Controlling for completer status, any participation with the eMindful OPC reduced stress (B=–0.32, 95% CI –0.35 to –0.30, SE=0.01, t2393.25=–24.99, P<.001, Cohen d=–1.02). Participation in live programs drove the decrease in stress (B=–0.03, SE=0.01, t3258.61=–3.03, P=.002, d=–0.11), whereas participation in recorded classes alone did not. Regular practice across the month led to a greater reduction in stress.

Conclusions

Our findings are in stark contrast to the rapid evolution of online mindfulness training for the workplace. While the market is reproducing apps and recorded teaching at an unprecedented pace, our results demonstrate that live mindfulness programs with recorded or on-demand programs used to supplement live practices confer the strongest likelihood of achieving a significant decrease in stress levels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8817217/

Mindfulness Reduces Smartphone Addiction

Mindfulness Reduces Smartphone Addiction

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

As a culture, we are slowly beginning to devalue wellness and prioritize productivity at the expense of our health. This creates an unhealthy reliance on digital devices.” – Alfred James

 

Over the last few decades, the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. The dominant mode of accessing the internet is through smartphones creating smartphone addictions. Individuals with smartphone addiction develop greater levels of “tolerance” and experience “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with addictions, decreasing cravings, impulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. Hence, there is a need to further explore how mindfulness affects smartphone addiction in adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Preference for Solitude and Mobile Phone Addiction Among Chinese College Students: The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress and Moderating Role of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.750511/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1796285_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211223_arts_A ) Chen and colleagues recruited university students and had them complete a questionnaire measuring preference for solitude, psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, mindfulness, mobile phone use, and mobile phone addiction.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of preference for solitude, psychological distress, mobile phone addiction, and time spent per day on the mobile phone. On the other hand, the higher the preference for solitude the higher the levels of psychological distress. time spent per day on the mobile phone, and mobile phone addiction. Modelling analysis revealed that preference for solitude was associated with higher mobile phone addiction directly and indirectly by being associated with higher psychological distress that was in turn associated with greater mobile phone addiction. But this indirect association was only significant for students who were low in mindfulness. For students high in mindfulness the indirect association was not significant.

 

These results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. For example, reference for solitude may result from psychological distress and mobile phone addiction rather than the other way around. Regardless the importance of mindfulness is apparent. It is associated with lower levels of preference for solitude, psychological distress, mobile phone addiction. These associations are probably causal as previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces preference for solitude, psychological distress, and mobile phone addiction. In addition, mindfulness may also disrupt mobile phone addiction by countering the relationship between preference for solitude and mobile phone addiction.

 

These results underscore the importance of mindfulness for the psychological health and well-being of university students. Indeed, mindfulness has been repeatedly shown in prior research to improve psychological well-being. The present study reveals another way that mindfulness may have these benefits by reducing the association of preference for solitude and mobile phone addiction. Mobile phone addiction can be problematic for the well-being and academic performance of university students and mindfulness may help to reduce the addiction and allow for better academic performance.

 

So, mindfulness reduces smartphone addiction.

 

“mindfulness training is beneficial to improve the ability of self-control and reduce rumination levels, thereby inhibiting the negative impact of smartphone addiction on college students.” – Shi-Shi Cheng

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chen W-Y, Yan L, Yuan Y-R, Zhu X-W, Zhang Y-H and Lian S-L (2021) Preference for Solitude and Mobile Phone Addiction Among Chinese College Students: The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress and Moderating Role of Mindfulness. Front. Psychol. 12:750511. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.750511

 

Background: With the increasing incidence of mobile phone addiction, the potential risk factors of mobile phone addiction have attracted more and more researchers’ attention. Although various personality trait factors have been proven to be significant predictors of mobile phone addiction, limited attention has been paid to preference for solitude. Considering the adverse impacts of preference for solitude in the context of collectivistic societies and its possible negative effect on mobile phone addiction, this study was designed to examine the relationship between preference for solitude and mobile phone addiction, and to test the mediating role of psychological distress and the moderating role of mindfulness in this relationship.

Methods: Data were collected through convenience sampling from a comprehensive university in China. A total of 927 Chinese college students (371 males and 556 females), aged from 16 to 24 (Mage = 19.89 years, SD = 1.22), participated in this study. Their preference for solitude, psychological distress, mindfulness, and mobile phone addiction were measured using well-validated self-report questionnaires.

Results: Correlational analyses, sobel test, SPSS macro PROCESS (Model 8) and simple slopes analyses were used for major data analysis. Results showed that preference for solitude was significantly and positively associated with mobile phone addiction, and this link could be mediated by psychological distress. Moreover, the indirect effect of psychological distress in this link was moderated by mindfulness, with this effect being stronger for college students with lower levels of mindfulness. However, mindfulness can not moderate the direct relation between preference for solitude and mobile phone addiction.

Conclusion: The present study broadened our knowledge of how and when (or for whom) preference for solitude is related to mobile phone addiction. Education professionals and parents should pay special attention to the psychological distress and mobile phone addiction of college students with high levels of preference for solitude, particularly for those with lower levels of mindfulness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.750511/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1796285_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211223_arts_A

 

Improve Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) Symptoms with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) Symptoms with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

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. But only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Recently, a new category has emerged of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) that meets the criterion for PTSD but has the additional symptoms of disturbances in self-organization including affect dysregulation, negative self-concept, and disturbances in relationships. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. Mindfulness-based therapies have been shown to be particularly effective. But it is not known if mindfulness-based therapies are also effective for CPTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Internet Intervention on ICD-11 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8435188/ ) Dumarkaite and colleagues recruited college students who had been exposed to trauma including natural disasters, accidents, physical or sexual abuse, or assault. They were randomly assigned to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly online mindfulness trainings sessions. They were measured before and after training for traumatic experiences, symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), anxiety, depression, positive mental health, and satisfaction and usability of the online program.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the participants who received online mindfulness training had significant decreases in disturbances in self-organization including negative self-concept, and disturbances in relationships and increases in positive mental health. In addition, satisfaction and usability of the online program was high. But they did not find significant changes in PTSD symptoms. Because of the improvements in self-concept, relationships, and mental health it is likely that online mindfulness training is effective for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).

 

These results are disappointing in that Mindfulness training has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in improving the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The difference here is that the mindfulness training was online. This raises the possibility that the interpersonal connections involved in the face-to-face delivery of mindfulness training which is usually delivered in groups is essential for the success of the therapy in treating PTSD.

 

So, improve Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) symptoms with online mindfulness training.

 

Trauma and presence (or mindfulness) cannot coexist. Thus, mindfulness practices can help bring trauma victims back to the present and heal from disturbing past events.” – Jason Linder

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dumarkaite, A., Truskauskaite-Kuneviciene, I., Andersson, G., Mingaudaite, J., & Kazlauskas, E. (2021). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Internet Intervention on ICD-11 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 1–13. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01739-w

 

Abstract

Objectives

A substantial proportion of trauma survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (CPTSD) continue to experience symptoms even after trauma-focused therapies. Internet-based interventions could facilitate access to treatment for PTSD and CPTSD. The current pilot study aimed to investigate the effects of mindfulness-based internet intervention on PTSD and CPTSD symptoms.

Methods

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) design with two measurement points (pre-test and post-test) was used to investigate the effects of a structured mindfulness-based internet intervention on PTSD and CPTSD symptoms as well as anxiety, depression, and positive mental health. In total, 70 university students with high levels of PTSD and CPTSD symptoms based on ICD-11 criteria participated in the study: 31 in the intervention group and 39 in the waiting list control group.

Results

We found that the mindfulness-based internet intervention reduced CPTSD disturbances in self-organization (DSO) symptoms (ES = − 0.48 [− 0.96; 0.00]), particularly negative self-concept (ES = − 0.72 [− 1.21; − 0.24]) and disturbances in relationships (ES = − 0.55 [− 1.03; − 0.07]). Moreover, the intervention reduced the symptoms of PTSD sense of threat (ES = − 0.48 [− 0.96; − 0.01]) and promoted positive mental health (ES = 0.51 [0.03; 0.99]). High user satisfaction and good usability of the intervention were reported.

Conclusions

Promising treatment effects were found, indicating that mindfulness-based internet intervention can reduce CPTSD symptoms and have a positive effect on mental health among youth in general. The findings of the current study contribute to the further development of trauma care using internet-delivered interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8435188/

 

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve College Student Psychological Well-Being with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Student life can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean students have to let stress take over their lives. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into daily routines, students can not only relieve stress, but also improve their memory, focus and ultimately their grades.” – Affordable Colleges

 

In the modern world education is a key for success. There is a lot of pressure on college students to excel so that they can get the best jobs after graduation. The pressure can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression which can impede the student’s mental health, well-being, and school performance. But it is, for the most part, beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress, so it is important that methods be found to reduce the college students’ responses to stress; to make them more resilient when high levels of stress occur.

 

Contemplative practices including meditationmindfulness training, exercise, Tai Chi and Qigong, and yoga practice have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stressrelieve anxiety, and reduce depression  Most mindfulness trainings, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with busy student schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. Online mindfulness trainings have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. So, it would seem important to examine whether brief online mindfulness training can relieve stress and improve the psychological well-being of college students.

 

In today’s Research News article “An Evaluation of an Online Brief Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Higher Education: A Pilot Conducted at an Australian University and a British University.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.752060/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A ) Chung and colleagues recruited college students and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive a 6 or 12 week online mindfulness training. They were measured before and after the intervention for mental well-being, perceived stress, and mindfulness.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control condition after mindfulness training the students had significantly higher levels of mindfulness and mental well-being and lower levels of perceived stress. Mindfulness training has been repeatedly found with a variety of groups to reduce stress and improve well-being. So, the present results are not surprising. But the results clearly demonstrate that online mindfulness training significantly improves the psychological well-being of college students.

 

So, improve college student psychological well-being with online mindfulness training.

 

Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events,” – Abby Fortin

 

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

 

Chung J, Mundy ME, Hunt I, Coxon A, Dyer KR and McKenzie S (2021) An Evaluation of an Online Brief Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Higher Education: A Pilot Conducted at an Australian University and a British University. Front. Psychol. 12:752060. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.752060

 

Mental ill health among higher education students is a well-established problem; therefore, it is imperative to implement preventative approaches to support wellbeing. Blended and fully online education programmes widens access for mature or returning students; however, the psychological wellbeing of this sub-group of students is under-researched. Finally, evaluating wellbeing interventions that meet the needs of university students as well as accessible for online students is required. The aim of this study was to evaluate a brief, online and mindfulness-based intervention to assist the self-management of wellbeing and stress for both online and on-campus higher education students. The total sample included 427 participants (96% psychology students) at Monash University, Australia (n=283) and King’s College London (n=144), with 152 participants completing the whole study. Participants were allocated to a brief, self-guided, online and mindfulness-based intervention (over the course of one study period; n=297), or to a wait-list control group (n=148). Baseline and end of semester questionnaires included the 14-item Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, 10-item Perceived Stress Scale and the 15-item Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Regression modelling revealed the intervention condition accounted for up to 12% of the variability in change in student wellbeing, stress and mindfulness between the start and end of semester (when controlling for baseline). These findings support the implementation of a brief, online and asynchronous mindfulness-based intervention for supporting student mental health and psychological wellbeing. An on-going challenge in practice includes engaging and maintaining student engagement in wellbeing initiatives.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.752060/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Obstetrics and Gynecology Patients during Covid-19 with a Mindfulness App

The COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy — what women need to know | Keck School  of Medicine of USC

Improve the Psychological Health of Obstetrics and Gynecology Patients during Covid-19 with a Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness meditation might be a viable low-cost intervention to mitigate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and future pandemics.” – Julie Lei Zhu

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. One of the primary effects of mindfulness that may be responsible for many of its benefits is that it improves the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The Covid-19 pandemic is extremely stressful particularly for patients who are pregnant or awaiting surgery. This training has been shown to improve the well-being of a wide variety of individuals. So, it should be helpful with these patients.

 

The vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained teacher. The participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, apps for smartphones have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. These should be particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic as attending in-person therapy sessions may not be safe or practicable. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these apps in inducing mindfulness and reducing stress and improving psychological well-being in real-world medical patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Effects in Obstetric and Gynecology Patients During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132566/ ) Smith and colleagues recruited adult

obstetrics and gynecology patients who were either pregnant or awaiting gynecological surgery delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They were randomly assigned to receive either standard care or to practice mindfulness for 10 minutes per day for 30 days with a commercially available smartphone app “Calm”. They were measured before training, at 14 days into training, and after training for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the usual care control group, the group that practiced mindfulness with the “Calm” app had significantly lower levels of perceived stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance at 14 days and 30 days. The mindfulness group also reported lower levels of perceived stress due to Covid-19 and less worry about infections in their families. A high degree of satisfaction with the “Calm” app was reported.

 

Covid-19 has affected the psychological health of virtually everyone and past research has shown that mindfulness improves their psychological health. The present study demonstrates that this occurs in pregnant women and women awaiting gynecological surgery. An important aspect of the present study was the use of a smartphone app to do the mindfulness training. These apps are particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic as attending in-person therapy sessions may not be safe or practicable. This allows for mindfulness training with its benefits for the well-being of the patients to occur even in the midst of a pandemic.

 

So, improve the psychological health of obstetrics and gynecology patients during covid-19 with a mindfulness app.

 

Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm. Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.“ – Michigan Medicine

 

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

 

Smith, R. B., Mahnert, N. D., Foote, J., Saunders, K. T., Mourad, J., & Huberty, J. (2021). Mindfulness Effects in Obstetric and Gynecology Patients During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Obstetrics and gynecology, 137(6), 1032–1040. https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000004316

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the effect of a consumer-based mobile meditation application (app) on wellness in outpatient obstetric and gynecology patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

METHODS:

We conducted a randomized controlled trial at a university outpatient clinic of obstetric and gynecology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women were randomly assigned to the intervention group, who was prescribed a mobile meditation app for 30 days, or the control group, which received standard care. The primary outcome was self-reported perceived stress. Secondary outcomes included self-reported depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with the meditation app. A sample size of 80 participants (40 per group) was calculated to achieve 84% power to detect a 3-point difference in the primary outcome.

RESULTS:

From April to May 2020, 101 women were randomized in the study—50 in the meditation app group and 51 in the control group. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Most characteristics were similar between groups. Perceived stress was significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (mean difference 4.27, 95% CI 1.30–7.24, P=.005, d=0.69 and mean difference 4.28, 95% CI 1.68–6.88, P=.002, d=0.69, respectively). Self-reported depression and anxiety were significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (depression: P=.002 and P=.04; anxiety: P=.01, and P=.04, respectively). Sleep disturbance was significantly less in the intervention group at days 14 and 30 (P=.001 and P=.02, respectively). More than 80% of those in the intervention group reported high satisfaction with the meditation app, and 93% reported that mindfulness meditation improved their stress.

CONCLUSION:

Outpatient obstetric and gynecology patients who used the prescribed consumer-based mobile meditation app during the COVID-19 pandemic had significant reductions in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance compared with standard care.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8132566/

Improve Sleep Quality in Patients with Severe Sleep Disturbance with Online Mindfulness Training.

Improve Sleep Quality in Patients with Severe Sleep Disturbance with Online Mindfulness Training.

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Strengthening your ‘mind muscle’ through daily practice helps you better recognize the negative insomnia-inducing thoughts and let them pass.” – Shelby Harris

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The evidence has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Virtual Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300082/ ) Jiang and colleagues review and summarize the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness of web based mindfulness training to improve the quality of sleep in patients with severe sleep disturbance. They found 10 published randomized controlled trials with a total of 2777 participants.

 

They report that the published research found that online mindfulness training produced significant improvements in sleep quality that were still present as long as 6 months later. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve sleep in a wide variety of patients and normal individuals. The present review demonstrates that it is effective with patients with severe sleep disturbance. The fact that these studies used online trainings is important as it makes the treatments widely available, convenient, and inexpensive. Hence, mindfulness training is a safe and effective method to improve sleep and should be recommended for individuals who have sleep problems.

 

So, improve sleep quality in patients with severe sleep disturbance with online mindfulness training.

 

We cannot make ourselves sleep, but perhaps, by aiming to stay settled and getting less caught up in our thoughts, we fall asleep anyway.” – Mark Bertin

 

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

 

Jiang, A., Rosario, M., Stahl, S., Gill, J. M., & Rusch, H. L. (2021). The Effect of Virtual Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Current psychiatry reports, 23(9), 62. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-021-01272-6

 

Abstract

Purpose of Review

We summarized peer-reviewed literature investigating the effect of virtual mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on sleep quality. We aimed to examine the following three questions: (1) do virtual MBIs improve sleep quality when compared with control groups; (2) does the effect persist long-term; and (3) is the virtual delivery method equally feasible compared to the in-person delivery method?

Recent Findings

Findings suggest that virtual MBIs are equivalent to evidence-based treatments, and to a limited extent, more effective than non-specific active controls at reducing some aspects of sleep disturbance. Overall, virtual MBIs are more effective at improving sleep quality than usual care controls and waitlist controls. Studies provide preliminary evidence that virtual MBIs have a long-term effect on sleep quality. Moreover, while virtual MBI attrition rates are comparable to in-person MBI attrition rates, intervention adherence may be compromised in the virtual delivery method.

Summary

This review highlights virtual MBIs as a potentially effective alternative to managing sleep disturbance during pandemic-related quarantine and stay-at-home periods. This is especially relevant due to barriers of accessing in-person interventions during the pandemic. Future studies are needed to explore factors that influence adherence and access to virtual MBIs, with a particular focus on diverse populations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300082/

 

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

Improve Psychological Health with Online Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Virtual mindfulness is an increasingly accessible intervention available world-wide that may reduce psychological distress.” – Suzan Farris

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health. But the vast majority of the mindfulness training techniques, however, require a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training online has been developed. This has tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “New Evidence in the Booming Field of Online Mindfulness: An Updated 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/PMC8329762/ ) Sommers-Spijkerman and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the effectiveness on online mindfulness training to improve psychological health. They identified 97 randomized controlled trials, including a total of 17,464 participants.

 

They report that the published randomized controlled trials found that online mindfulness training produced significant moderate reductions of perceived stress anxiety and depression and increases in mindfulness and well-being. One to 3 months after training there were still significant reductions in anxiety and depression remaining. Although the effects were larger when comparing online mindfulness training to passive control conditions, they were still present in significant when compared to active control conditions.

 

A very large amount of research has accumulated on the effectiveness of online mindfulness training for psychological health. This meta-analysis revealed that this research clearly demonstrates that online mindfulness training has similar effectiveness as face-to-face mindfulness training in improving psychological health. Hence, online training is safe, effective convenient, scalable, and inexpensive, and doesn’t require a trained therapist making it an excellent option for improving psychological health.

 

So, improve psychological health with online mindfulness training.

 

The fear, anxiety and stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. But . . . these symptoms may be alleviated through safe and convenient online mindfulness practices.” – Wake Forest Baptist Health

 

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

 

Sommers-Spijkerman, M., Austin, J., Bohlmeijer, E., & Pots, W. (2021). New Evidence in the Booming Field of Online Mindfulness: An Updated Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. JMIR mental health, 8(7), e28168. https://doi.org/10.2196/28168

 

Abstract

Background

There is a need to regularly update the evidence base on the effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), especially considering how fast this field is growing and developing.

Objective

This study presents an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing the effects of online MBIs on mental health and the potential moderators of these effects.

Methods

We conducted a systematic literature search in PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science up to December 4, 2020, and included 97 trials, totaling 125 comparisons. Pre-to-post and pre-to-follow-up between-group effect sizes (Hedges g) were calculated for depression, anxiety, stress, well-being, and mindfulness using a random effects model.

Results

The findings revealed statistically significant moderate pre-to-post effects on depression (g=0.34, 95% CI 0.18-0.50; P<.001), stress (g=0.44, 95% CI 0.32-0.55; P<.001), and mindfulness (g=0.40, 95% CI 0.30-0.50; P<.001) and small effects on anxiety (g=0.26, 95% CI 0.18-0.33; P<.001). For well-being, a significant small effect was found only when omitting outliers (g=0.22, 95% CI 0.15-0.29; P<.001) or low-quality studies (g=0.26, 95% CI 0.12-0.41; P<.001). Significant but small follow-up effects were found for depression (g=0.25, 95% CI 0.12-0.38) and anxiety (g=0.23, 95% CI 0.13-0.32). Subgroup analyses revealed that online MBIs resulted in higher effect sizes for stress when offered with guidance. In terms of stress and mindfulness, studies that used inactive control conditions yielded larger effects. For anxiety, populations with psychological symptoms had higher effect sizes. Adherence rates for the interventions ranged from 35% to 92%, but most studies lacked clear definitions or cut-offs.

Conclusions

Our findings not only demonstrate that online MBIs are booming but also corroborate previous findings that online MBIs are beneficial for improving mental health outcomes in a broad range of populations. To advance the field of online MBIs, future trials should pay specific attention to methodological quality, adherence, and long-term follow-up measurements.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8329762/

 

Mindfulness Improve Social Media Control While Social Media Control Improves Mindfulness

Mindfulness Improve Social Media Control While Social Media Control Improves Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“social media overuse is increasingly commonplace today, and it may have some serious repercussions to your physical and mental health.” – Kristeen Cherney

 

Over the last few decades, the internet has gone from a rare curiosity to the dominant mode of electronic communications. In fact, it has become a dominant force in daily life, occupying large amounts of time and attention. As useful as the internet may be, it can also produce negative consequences. “Problematic Internet Use” is now considered a behavioral addiction, with almost half of participants in one study considered “Internet addicts”, developing greater levels of “tolerance” and experiencing “withdrawal” and distress when deprived. This phenomenon is so new that there is little understanding of its nature, causes, and consequences and how to treat it.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful with each of the components of addictions, decreasing cravingsimpulsiveness, and psychological and physiological responses to stress, and increasing emotion regulation.  It is no wonder then that mindfulness training has been found to be effective for the treatment of a variety of addictions. It also has been found to be helpful in overcoming internet and smartphone addictions. But there is a need to further explore the effectiveness of mindfulness training on one form of internet addiction, social media addiction.

 

In today’s Research News article “The reciprocal relationships between social media self-control failure, mindfulness and wellbeing: A longitudinal study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336798/ ) Du and colleagues recruited participants online between the ages of 16 to 60 years of age and had them complete measures of social media control, mindfulness, well-being, and life satisfaction. They completed the measures three times at four-month intervals.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness at all measurements the higher the levels of social media control, well-being, and life satisfaction at all measurements. They also found evidence that social media control at the first measurement was associated with better mindfulness at the second measurement which was, in turn, associated with better social media control at the third measurement.

 

These results are correlative and as such caution must be exercised in interpreting causation. But mindfulness training has been found in prior research to reduce internet addictions. In addition, the associations found between variables and other variables 4 months later prohibit a reverse causation explanation. So, the associations reported here may well be due to causal connections. Hence, it could be tentatively concluded that being able to control participation in social media improves mindfulness and mindfulness improves the individual’s ability to control their participation in social media.

 

This is potentially important as participation in social media often gets out of control to the point where it interferes in everyday activities to the detriment of the individual. It can even become an addiction. That being mindful can help keep it under control may be very helpful allowing attention to other life activities. Although it was not explored in the present study this suggests that mindfulness training may help make the individual resistant to losing control of participation in social media.

 

So, mindfulness improve social media control while social media control improves mindfulness.

 

Social media addiction is becoming an increasing problem. . . One cure is mindfulness meditation. . . a powerful tool for kicking addictions ranging from drugs, to social media” – Elise Bialylew

 

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

 

Du, J., Kerkhof, P., & van Koningsbruggen, G. M. (2021). The reciprocal relationships between social media self-control failure, mindfulness and wellbeing: A longitudinal study. PloS one, 16(8), e0255648. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255648

 

Abstract

This paper aims to shed light on the question whether, and how, social media self-control failure is related to mindfulness and wellbeing. Using a 3-wave longitudinal design, the present study among 594 daily social media users examined the reciprocal relationships between social media self-control failure and mindfulness, and between social media self-control failure and wellbeing (as assessed by subjective vitality and life satisfaction). Results of the random-intercept cross-lagged panel model showed that social media self-control failure has a time-invariant negative association with mindfulness and subjective vitality. No full reciprocal influence was found between social media self-control failure and mindfulness, yet part of this trajectory was observed, suggesting that social media self-control failure could impair mindfulness, which, in turn, might increase future social media self-control failure. For wellbeing, life satisfaction was found to predict subsequent drops in social media self-control failure.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336798/