Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Mindfulness Training Reduces Posttraumatic Stress Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“People with PTSD may sometimes feel as though they have a hard time getting any distance from unpleasant thoughts and memories. . . Mindfulness may help people get back in touch with the present moment, as well as reduce the extent with which they feel controlled by unpleasant thoughts and memories.” – Matthew Tull

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. These violent and aggressive tendencies can lead to violence directed to intimate partners, including sexual and physical violence. In the U.S. there are over 5 million cases of domestic violence reported annually. Indeed, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner.

 

Intimate partner violence frequently produces Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the survivors. Hence, there is a need to find ways to reduce the impact of intimate partner violence on the mental health of the survivors. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Hence, mindfulness training may be effective in treating survivors of intimate partner violence.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/ ) In a small pilot study, Gallegos and colleagues recruited, through family court, women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. They were randomly assigned to receive either an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or wellness education. MBSR met once a week for 2 hours and consisted of meditation, body scan, and yoga practices along with discussion and home practice. For wellness education the participants were provided a manual that provided information on various aspects of health, including diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and communication. They received a weekly check-in phone calls regarding the use of the manual. The participants were measured before and after training and 4-weeks later for physical and sexual assault experiences, post-traumatic stress symptoms, emotion regulation, and attention. They also had their heart rate variability measured at rest and during exposure to positive, neutral, or negative (trauma related) pictures.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline, the women who received mindfulness training had significantly lower levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and higher levels of emotion regulation, while the wellness education participants did not. This was true immediately after treatment and also 4 weeks later. There were also non-significant increases in heart rate variability while viewing trauma-related pictures in the mindfulness group and decreases in the wellness education group.

 

This is a pilot study of a small sample (29 women) and was not powered to detect significant differences between groups. The results, however were encouraging, suggesting that mindfulness training tends to relieve the symptoms of trauma, improve emotion regulation and produce relaxation of the autonomic nervous system in women who were survivors of intimate partner violence. In previous research it has been shown that mindfulness training reduces post-traumatic stress symptoms, improves emotion regulation, and relaxes the autonomic nervous system. The contribution of the present study is to suggest that mindfulness training might also be effective in the treatment of women who have survived intimate partner violence. The results, then, suggest that a large randomized controlled trial should be conducted,

 

So, reduce posttraumatic stress among survivors of intimate partner violence with mindfulness.

 

PTSD is really a different way of seeing the world, and is also seen at the level of physiology. But by going through a couple of months of making an effort to change thoughts and behaviors, that physiological syndrome can also change back again.” – Tony King

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

Gallegos, A. M., Heffner, K. L., Cerulli, C., Luck, P., McGuinness, S., & Pigeon, W. R. (2020). Effects of mindfulness training on posttraumatic stress symptoms from a community-based pilot clinical trial among survivors of intimate partner violence. Psychological trauma : theory, research, practice and policy, 12(8), 859–868. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000975

Abstract

Objective:

Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health issue associated with deleterious mental and medical health comorbidities, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The hallmark symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), even when not meeting the threshold for a diagnosis of PTSD, appear to be underpinned by poor self-regulation in multiple domains, including emotion, cognitive control, and physiological stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) holds promise for treating PTS symptoms because evidence suggests it targets these domains. The current study was a pilot randomized clinical trial designed to examine changes in emotion regulation, attentional function, and physiological stress dysregulation among women IPV survivors with elevated PTS symptoms after participation in a group-based, 8-week MBSR program.

Method:

In total, 29 participants were randomized to receive MBSR (n = 19) or an active control (n = 10). Assessments were conducted at study entry, as well as 8 and 12 weeks later.

Results:

Between-group differences on primary outcomes were nonsignificant; however, when exploring within groups, statistically significant decreases in PTS symptoms, F(1.37, 16.53) = 5.19, p < .05, and emotion dysregulation, F(1.31, 14.46) = 9.36, p < .01, were observed after MBSR but not after the control intervention. Further, decreases in PTSD and emotion dysregulation were clinically significant for MBSR participants but not control participants.

Conclusions:

These preliminary data signal that MBSR may improve PTS symptoms and emotion regulation and suggest further study of the effectiveness of PTSD interventions guided by integrative models of MBSR mechanisms and psychophysiological models of stress regulation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052636/

 

Spirituality Improves Posttraumatic Growth with Mothers of Children with Cancer

Spirituality Improves Posttraumatic Growth with Mothers of Children with Cancer

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spirituality can play a critical role in the way traumas are understood, how they are managed, and how they are ultimately resolved.” – Kenneth Pargamen

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But dealing with the trauma of having a child with cancer the levels of stress and anxiety are markedly increased. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. It is not known if spirituality affects the symptoms or posttraumatic growth produced by the trauma of having a child with cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Posttraumatic Growth and Spirituality in Mothers of Children with Pediatric Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999482/ ) Czyżowska and colleagues recruited mothers of children (average age of 6.4 years) who were in the hospital being treated for cancer. They completed measures of post-traumatic growth, including changes in self-perception, changes in relationships with others, appreciation of life, and spiritual changes; and spirituality including religious attitudes, ethical sensitivity, and harmony.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spirituality, including ethical sensitivity, and harmony, the higher the levels of post-traumatic growth including relationships with others, and spiritual changes. The highest levels of post-traumatic growth that the mothers had were in in appreciation of life. In addition, the mothers with the greatest changes in post-traumatic growth had significantly higher levels of spirituality.

 

These results suggest that mothers of children with pediatric cancer demonstrate post-traumatic growth, especially in appreciation of life. In addition, they found that this post-traumatic growth was associated with spirituality. It is interesting that religious attitudes were not associated with growth. Hence, having inner peace and harmony (spirituality) and not religiosity is associated with growth. This raises the possibility that treating mothers’ spirituality may assist them in coping with pediatric cancer. Being better able to cope with the stresses should allow the mothers to better work with their children, promoting their health and well-being.

 

So, spirituality improves posttraumatic growth with mothers of children with cancer.

 

positive religious coping, religious openness, readiness to face existential questions, religious participation, and intrinsic religiousness are typically associated with posttraumatic growth.” – Annick Shaw

 

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

 

Czyżowska, N., Raszka, M., Kalus, A., & Czyżowska, D. (2021). Posttraumatic Growth and Spirituality in Mothers of Children with Pediatric Cancer. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(6), 2890. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062890

 

Abstract

A child’s cancer, as a life-threatening illness, is classified as a traumatic event both for the child him-/herself and for his/her relatives. Struggling with a traumatic experience can bring positive consequences for an individual, which is referred to as posttraumatic growth. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between posttraumatic growth and spirituality understood as a personal resource in mothers of children with pediatric cancer. In total, 55 mothers whose children were in the phase of treatment and who had been staying with them in the hospital filled in a Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, Self-description Questionnaire of Spirituality, and the author’s short questionnaire on demographic variables and information on the child and his/her disease. A high level of posttraumatic development, especially in the area of life appreciation, was observed in the examined mothers. Spirituality was positively related to the emergence of positive change, in two particular components, ethical sensitivity and harmony. It seems that taking into account the area of spirituality when planning interventions and providing support in this group could foster coping with the situation and emergence of posttraumatic growth.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999482/

 

Mindfulness’ Association with Well-Being is Diminished by Adverse Childhood Experiences

Mindfulness’ Association with Well-Being is Diminished by Adverse Childhood Experiences

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness instruction may mitigate the negative effects of stress and trauma related to adverse childhood exposures, improving short- and long-term outcomes, and potentially reducing poor health outcomes in adulthood.” – Robin Ortiz

 

Childhood trauma can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include persistent recurrent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, including flashbacks and nightmares, loss of interest in life, detachment from other people, increased anxiety and emotional arousal, including outbursts of anger, difficulty concentration, and jumpiness, startling easily. Unfortunately, childhood maltreatment can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. How individuals cope with childhood maltreatment helps determine the effects of the maltreatment on their mental health.

 

It has been found that experiencing the feelings and thoughts produced by trauma completely allows for better coping. This can be provided by mindfulness. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms. But it is not known how mindfulness interacts with adverse childhood experiences to impact psychological well-being later on.

 

In today’s Research News article “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Well-Being in Chinese College Students: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7915366/ ) Huang and colleagues recruited college juniors and seniors online and had them complete measures of psychological well-being, mindfulness, and adverse childhood experiences (“including abuse (psychological, physical, or sexual), neglect, household challenges such as violence perpetrated against mother and cohabitation with individuals who use substances or have mental illness or incarceration history, from the first 18 years of life”.)

 

They found that the students for the most part experienced low levels of adverse childhood experiences with an average of 0.69 experiences. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the levels of psychological well-being and the lower the levels of adverse childhood experiences. In addition, the higher the levels of adverse childhood experiences, the lower the levels of psychological well-being. A mediation analysis revealed that adverse childhood experiences were associated with reduced levels of psychological well-being directly and also indirectly by being associated with lower levels of mindfulness, lowering their ability to improve psychological well-being.

 

These findings are correlational and as such conclusions regarding causation cannot be conclusively drawn. But previous controlled research has demonstrated that mindfulness improves psychological well-being, and lowers the symptoms of trauma, and that trauma diminishes well-being. So the present findings likely also represent causal linkages. Hence, the results suggest that mindfulness is good for the psychological well-being of college students but mindfulness is diminished by adverse childhood experiences and these experiences also directly decrease the students’ well-being.

 

Trauma during the early years of life can have a negative impact on the individual for the rest of their lives. The fact that mindfulness can mitigate these effects is heartening. It suggests the mindfulness training should be routinely implemented for individuals who experienced trauma in their formative years.

 

So, mindfulness’ association with well-being is diminished by adverse childhood experiences.

 

mindfulness training may enable those experiencing post-traumatic stress to be better able to inhibit or reduce the pernicious cycle of negative thoughts, feelings, and memories that accompany traumatic stress.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are a also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Huang, C. C., Tan, Y., Cheung, S. P., & Hu, H. (2021). Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Well-Being in Chinese College Students: Mediation Effect of Mindfulness. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1636. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041636

 

Abstract

Literature on the antecedents of psychological well-being (PWB) has found that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mindfulness are associated with PWB; less is known, however, about the role of mindfulness, a type of emotional and self-regulation, in the pathway between ACEs and PWB. This study used data from 1871 college students across China to examine the relation between ACEs and PWB, and whether the relation was mediated by mindfulness. The findings from structural equation modelling indicate a statistically significant negative association between ACEs and PWB, while mindfulness was strongly and positively associated with PWB. The effect of ACEs on PWB was reduced once mindfulness was controlled for in the analysis. This provides evidence that mindfulness was able to partially mediate the effects of negative life experiences on psychological well-being. This calls for mindfulness interventions targeted toward students with a history of ACEs to buffer the effects of ACEs on PWB.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7915366/

 

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our stress lowers when we give our days ahead to a spiritual presence that will be with us ― one that never leaves. Leaning into one’s faith allows room for building a stronger sense of peace . . . and discover a spiritual awakening and divine love that will overpower any real or imagined quarantine we will experience.” – Shar Burgess

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity with the ability to cope with COVID-19.

 

In today’s Research News article “Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A ) Prieto-Ursúa and colleagues recruited adults in Madrid, Spain during the Coronavirus pandemic and had them complete a questionnaire online that measured spirituality, religiosity, purpose in life; including general meaning, and establishment of specific goals, post-traumatic growth; including personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth, and experiences with COVID-19.

 

They found that women had greater post-traumatic growth than men. People who knew someone affected by COVID-19 had significantly higher post-traumatic growth of all forms and religiosity and those who had experienced COVID-19 had even greater growth and religiosity. They also found that general meaning in life was associated with greater post-traumatic growth while having specific goals was not. In addition, they found that religiosity was associated with overall growth while spirituality was associated with personal growth once meaning was controlled for.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational making conclusions regarding causation problematic. It’s also the case that there is no comparison condition. Of course, having a control group without COVID-19 would be practically impossible. This.is a natural experiment, taking advantage of a current very unusual event. We can learn from it but must be careful not to form strong conclusions.

 

Speculatively, these results suggest that trauma is associated with higher levels of growth especially in women. Trauma appears to increase religiosity and religiosity appear to promote growth. It is possible that religion provides a refuge to help with coping with the trauma, Spirituality, on the other hand, appears to be associated with greater meaning in life and this in turn is associated with greater personal growth.

 

The findings suggest that trauma can promote personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth. They also show that having meaning in life is important for that growth. In the face of a pandemic, rather than withdrawing, people strengthen. This attests to the resilience of the human spirit.

 

So, post-traumatic growth and religiosity increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“Sometimes when we experience grief, we feel shocked, anxious, fearful, sad, powerless, angry, or helpless. What we need to remember is that all these feelings and many others are normal. Being able to acknowledge where we are emotionally and spiritually can be empowering.” – Together

 

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

 

Prieto-Ursúa M and Jódar R (2020) Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain. Front. Psychol. 11:567836. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836

 

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus has blighted our world, hitting some countries harder than others. Morbidity and mortality rates make Madrid one of the worst affected places so far in the wake of the coronavirus. The aim of this study was to analyze the presence of post-traumatic growth during the coronavirus crisis and to understand the contribution of meaning, religiosity, and spirituality to such growth; 1,492 people completed the questionnaire; N = 1,091 residents in Madrid were selected for the study. We assessed the personal experience of COVID-19, the Spirituality, Religiosity, Meaning trough Purpose in Life-10 test, and Posttraumatic Growth (Community Post-Traumatic Growth Scale). Results showed significant differences for all measures of growth, with higher values in women. Sex and direct impact of COVID-19 accounted for 4.4% of the variance of growth. The different dimensions of meaning contribute differently to growth. Only religiosity was associated with total growth when meaning was included in the model. This same pattern of results is obtained in models predicting interpersonal and social growth. However, in predicting personal growth, it is spirituality that predicts this type of growth once meaning has been previously controlled for, while religiosity fails to reach a statistically significant level. Our results reflect the interest in maintaining the distinction between spirituality and religiosity, their different roles in traumatic growth and the different dimensions on which each has an effect. Finally, it confirms the importance of meaning in post-traumatic growth, especially the dimension of life goals and purposes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A

 

Mindfulness May Mediate the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Romantic Relationships

Mindfulness May Mediate the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Romantic Relationships

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“As mindfulness is the ever-unfolding compassionate, non-judgmental awareness of each and every moment, mindfulness practice and relationships go hand-in-hand.” – Gillian Florence Sanger

 

Childhood changes the victim forever. It changes the trusting innocence of childhood to a confused, guilt ridden, frightening, and traumatized existence. It not only produces short-term trauma which includes both psychological and physical injury, it has long-term consequences. It damages the victim’s self-esteem and creates difficulties entering into intimate relationship in adulthood.  Relationships under any conditions can be difficult. This is amplified in cohabitation where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. All this can be amplified with when one of the partners has experienced childhood trauma.

 

Mindfulness trainings have been shown to improve a variety of psychological issues including emotion regulationstress responsestraumafear and worryanxiety, and depression, and self-esteem. Mindfulness training has also been found to improve relationships and to be useful in treating sexual problems. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in resolving the residual symptoms of childhood trauma. But there is little empirical research on the influence of mindfulness on the relationships of couples where childhood trauma exists.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cumulative Childhood Trauma and Couple Satisfaction: Examining the Mediating Role of Mindfulness.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334265/) Gobout and colleagues recruited couples involved in romantic relationships and had them complete questionnaires measuring childhood trauma, couple satisfaction, and mindfulness. These data were then analyzed with regression and path analysis techniques.

 

Shockingly, they found that 87% of the sample had experienced some form of childhood trauma, including sexual or physical abuse, psychological violence or neglect, physical neglect, interparental physical or psychological violence, or bullying. They further found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of couples’ satisfaction and the higher the levels of childhood trauma the lower the levels of couple satisfaction and mindfulness. A path analysis revealed that childhood trauma affected couples’ satisfaction by being associated with lower levels of mindfulness that in turn were associated with lower couples’ satisfaction. The mediation was significant for overall mindfulness and also the observing, describing inner experience, and non-judging facets of mindfulness.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But prior research has shown the mindfulness is effective in treating the symptoms of childhood trauma and it also improves relationships. Hence, it is reasonable to suggest that the relationships observed in the current study represent underlying causal connections. This suggests the childhood trauma, at least in part, reduces mindfulness which is important for relationship satisfaction. This infers that mindfulness training may be effective in reducing the impact of childhood trauma on the individual’s ability to engage in satisfying relationships.

 

These results also suggest that being sensitive to inner experience and not judging it is important for relationships. In other words, being aware of one’s feelings but not judging them helps the individual to better relate to a partner. Experiencing childhood trauma appears to make the individual somewhat numb to their feelings making it more difficult to be aware of their emotions in relating to another. Overcoming tis effect of experience trauma in childhood may be a key for allowing these victims to relate effectively to their partners and thereby having a satisfying relationship.

 

So, mindfulness may mediate the effects of childhood trauma on romantic relationships.

 

“When you are mindful of the love in your life you open yourself up to the opportunity for love to grow. And not just romantic love, but self-love, and loving friendships as well.” – Mindful

 

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

 

Gobout, N., Morissette Harvey, F., Cyr, G., & Bélanger, C. (2020). Cumulative Childhood Trauma and Couple Satisfaction: Examining the Mediating Role of Mindfulness. Mindfulness, 11(7), 1723–1733. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01390-x

 

Abstract

Objectives

Cumulative childhood trauma (CCT) survivors are at a higher risk of suffering from interpersonal problems including couple dissatisfaction. Dispositional mindfulness is increasingly proposed as a potential explanatory mechanism of post-traumatic symptomatology and has been documented as a predictor of couple satisfaction. Most authors operationalize mindfulness as a multidimensional disposition comprised of five facets (i.e., Describing, Observing, Non-judgment of inner experiences, Non-reactivity, and Acting with awareness), but the role of these facets in the link between CCT and couple satisfaction has yet to be understood. This study aimed to assess mindfulness as a potential mediator in the relationship between CCT and couple satisfaction and to examine the distinctive contributions of mindfulness facets in this mediation.

Methods

A sample of 330 participants from the community completed measures of couple satisfaction, mindfulness, and exposure to eight types of childhood maltreatment experiences.

Results

Path analysis results revealed that mindfulness mediated the relationship between CCT and couple satisfaction. More precisely, two mindfulness facets acted as specific mediators, namely, Describing and Non-judgment of inner experiences. The final integrative model explained 14% (p < .001) of the variance in couple satisfaction.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that mindfulness may be a meaningful mechanism in the link between CCT and couple satisfaction. They also highlight that description of inner experiences and a non-judgmental attitude of these experiences may act as key components to understand the influence of CCT on adults’ lower couple satisfaction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334265/

 

Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

Meditate to Alter the Brain and Overcome Attention and Hyperactivity Problems Resulting from Childhood Neglect

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Without appropriate clinical interventions, individuals exposed to relational trauma in childhood are at greater risk for difficulties in adult relationships and parenting.” At present, there is not much in the way of treatment for individual adults who have experienced childhood maltreatment: this study shows that mindfulness could help change that.” – Emily Nauman

 

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

 

Childhood neglect is traumatic and can leave in its wake symptoms which can haunt the victims for the rest of their lives. These include cognitive impairments such as attentional difficulties, difficulty concentrating, and hyperactivity. Unfortunately, childhood neglect can continue to affect mental and physical health throughout the individual’s life. Fortunately, mindfulness training has been found to help. Indeed, mindfulness has been found to be effective for relieving trauma symptoms even in adults who were maltreated in childhood..

 

In today’s Research News article “Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/) Mishra and colleagues recruited adolescents (aged 10-18 years) who had experienced childhood neglect. They were randomly assigned to either a no-treatment control condition or to receive over the internet 30 sessions over 6 weeks of 30 minutes of either breath following meditation or attention to sensory information video games. They were measured before and after training and one year later for sustained attention, attention with distractors, inattention behaviors, hyperactivity, and academic performance. They also had their brains scanned with Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI).

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the no-treatment and the attention to sensory information groups, the breath following meditation group after treatment had significant increases in attentional ability, both sustained and with distractors and a significant improvement in academic performance. In addition, the breath following meditation groups had a significant decrease in hyperactivity at the 1-year follow-up. The resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) revealed that the greater the level of childhood neglect experienced by the adolescents the lower the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. After treatment only the breath following meditation group had a significant increase in the functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the greater the increase in connectivity the greater the improvements in sustained attention and hyperactivity.

 

These are interesting and potentially important findings. Childhood neglect appears to result in impairments in the connectivity of a key brain area involved in regulating attention, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. This could explain why neglected children have a higher likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder in adolescents. Importantly, training in breath following meditation appears to some extent reverse the loss of functional connectivity and the attentional and hyperactivity symptoms of the adolescents and result in improved performance in school. Hence, training in breath following meditation may be very helpful in preventing childhood neglect from producing ADHD in adolescents and impairing their academic performance.

 

Another important aspect of the present study was that the treatment was provided over the internet. This greatly increases its availability, convenience, and utility and reduces cost. So, the treatment can be cost effectively scaled up to treat large numbers of adolescents scattered over wide geographic regions. This makes it available to adolescents who are neither near a therapist or can afford therapy.

 

Hence, meditate to alter the brain and overcome attention and hyperactivity problems resulting from childhood neglect.

 

The absence of emotional support in childhood can be as damaging and long-lasting as other traumas. But, because you can’t point to exactly where and when the wounding happened, it can be hard to identify and overcome it.” – Andrea Brandt

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Mishra, J., Sagar, R., Parveen, S., Kumaran, S., Modi, K., Maric, V., Ziegler, D., & Gazzaley, A. (2020). Closed-loop digital meditation for neurocognitive and behavioral development in adolescents with childhood neglect. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 153. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0820-z

 

Abstract

Adverse childhood experiences are linked to poor attentive behaviors during adolescence, as well as increased risk for mental health disorders in adults. However, no study has yet tested targeted interventions to optimize neurocognitive processes in this population. Here, we investigated closed-loop digital interventions in a double-blind randomized controlled study in adolescents with childhood neglect, and evaluated the outcomes using multimodal assessments of neuroimaging, cognitive, behavioral, and academic evaluations. In the primary neuroimaging results, we demonstrate that a closed-loop digital meditation intervention can strengthen functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) in the cingulo-opercular network, which is critically developing during the adolescent period. Second, this intervention enhanced sustained attention and interference-resolution abilities, and also reduced behavioral hyperactivity at a 1-year follow-up. Superior academic performance was additionally observed in adolescents who underwent the digital meditation intervention. Finally, changes in dACC functional connectivity significantly correlated with improvements in sustained attention, hyperactivity, and academic performance. This first study demonstrates that closed-loop digital meditation practice can facilitate development of important aspects of neurocognition and real-life behaviors in adolescents with early childhood neglect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235252/

 

Spirituality is associated with Childhood Trauma

Spirituality is associated with Childhood Trauma

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

traumatic childhood experiences must be solved by making new good experiences with relationships, with closeness.” – Gopal Klein

 

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

 

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

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality to childhood trauma.

 

In today’s Research News article “Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068247/), Kosarkova and colleagues sampled the Czech population over 15 years of age and had them complete measures of childhood trauma, including emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect subscales, religiosity, spirituality, and religious conversion experiences.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spirituality in the non-religious but not the religious participants in the sample the greater the amounts of childhood trauma including emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect. Hence, for the non-religious people childhood trauma of all varieties are associated with spirituality.

 

The present results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. It is equally likely that childhood trauma increases spirituality, spirituality increases childhood trauma, or some third factor was responsible for both. It can be speculated, though, that the individual experiencing trauma looks for a means to explain the reason for the trauma. Individuals who are religious may interpret it in a religious context and conclude that god has abandoned them and so become even less spiritual. On the other hand, non-religious individuals would not fault god for the trauma and thus could take refuge in spirituality as a coping mechanism. It remains for future research to investigate these possibilities.

 

childhood violence survivors often mention the importance of spirituality in their survival and recovery as being a resource for healing, meaning making, and truth.” -Thelma Bryant-Davis

 

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

 

Kosarkova, A., Malinakova, K., Koncalova, Z., Tavel, P., & van Dijk, J. P. (2020). Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(4), 1268. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041268

 

Abstract

Childhood trauma experience (CT) is negatively associated with many aspects of adult life. Religiosity/spirituality (R/S) are often studied as positive coping strategies and could help in the therapeutic process. Evidence on this is lacking for a non-religious environment. The aim of this study was to assess the associations of different types of CT with R/S in the secular conditions of the Czech Republic. A nationally representative sample (n = 1800, mean age = 46.4, SD = 17.4; 48.7% male) of adults participated in the survey. We measured childhood trauma, spirituality, religiosity and conversion experience. We found that four kinds of CT were associated with increased levels of spirituality, with odds ratios (OR) ranging from 1.17 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.34) to 1.31 (1.18–1.46). Non-religious respondents were more likely to report associations of CT with spirituality. After measuring for different combinations of R/S, each CT was associated with increased chances of being “spiritual but non-religious”, with OR from 1.55 (1.17–2.06) to 2.10 (1.63–2.70). Moreover, converts were more likely to report emotional abuse OR = 1.46 (1.17–1.82) or emotional neglect with OR = 1.42 (1.11–1.82). Our findings show CT is associated with higher levels of spirituality in non-religious respondents. Addressing spiritual needs may contribute to the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment of the victims.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068247/

 

Meditation Alters the Brains of Patients with Residual Symptoms after Accidental Physical Injury

Meditation Alters the Brains of Patients with Residual Symptoms after Accidental Physical Injury

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness meditation can help you recover from injury by changing your perception of the circumstance/trauma/event. . . . You can come to know if pain is authentic or based on fear. You can take an honest look at how much you are building up the meaning of an injury and causing yourself more pain. You can direct your mind towards what is important, rather than being distracted by irrational worries and beliefs that are based in fiction or illusion.” – Jennifer Houghton

 

Accidental or unintentional injuries occur due to external forces. In the United States there are nearly 40 million visits to doctors’ offices and 30 million emergency room visits for accidental injuries. The most frequent causes are automobile accidents and falls. Often patients have physical and mental distress that continues even with medical treatment for a year or more. These are termed post-traumatic residual disabilities. They are obviously a major problem for the ability of the patients to conduct their lives.

 

Meditation training has been found to be an effective treatment for a myriad of physical and mental problems resulting from accident, disease, or post-traumatic stress. It has also been established that meditation practice alters brain structure and electrical activity. So, it would make sense to employ meditation training for patients with post-traumatic residual disabilities and examine brain activity after the training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Short-term meditation modulates EEG activity in subjects with post-traumatic residual disabilities.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402287/), Hata and colleagues recruited adult patients with physical and mental distress that continued even with medical treatment for a year or more and a group of healthy normal control participants. The participants with post-traumatic residual disabilities were provided audio recording led meditation practice and asked to meditate for 24 minutes daily for 8 weeks. Before and after practice they were measured for distress from disability and mindfulness and were subjected to an Electroencephalographic (EEG) technique called Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (eLORETA) while at rest and while meditating. Recordings were only performed once for the normal control participants who did not meditate.

 

The meditation practice produced a significant increase in mindfulness in the patients. In comparison to the normal controls, meditation produced increased current densities in the inferior parietal module of the participants with post-traumatic residual disabilities. They also found that changes in the brain current densities in the precuneus were positively associated with work or daily difficulties resulting from the injury.

 

This study demonstrated that meditation practice produces changes in the electrical characteristic in the brains of patients with post-traumatic residual disabilities. Importantly, the greater the increase in precuneus current density the greater the improvement in daily physical difficulties resulting from the injuries. So, meditation practice may be useful for the relief of these difficulties. But the effects were not large and there wasn’t a comparable control condition. So, these results must be seen as tentative until a larger randomized controlled trial can be implemented.

 

So, meditation alters the brains of patients with residual symptoms after accidental physical injury.

 

“meditation is about establishing a different relationship with your thoughts and affirming your body’s ability to heal itself. You’re training yourself to place your attention where and when you want. This is very powerful. It gives you the ability to direct your thoughts (and mood) in more productive and peaceful directions. This ability has profound self-healing implications for physical and mental health.” – Caroline Jordan

 

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

 

Hata, M., Hayashi, N., Ishii, R., Canuet, L., Pascual-Marqui, R. D., Aoki, Y., … Ito, T. (2019). Short-term meditation modulates EEG activity in subjects with post-traumatic residual disabilities. Clinical neurophysiology practice, 4, 30–36. doi:10.1016/j.cnp.2019.01.003

 

Abstract

Objective

Neurophysiological changes related to meditation have recently attracted scientific attention. We aimed to detect changes in electroencephalography (EEG) parameters induced by a meditative intervention in subjects with post-traumatic residual disability (PTRD), which has been confirmed for effectiveness and safety in a previous study. This will allow us to estimate the objective effect of this intervention at the neurophysiological level.

Methods

Ten subjects with PTRD were recruited and underwent psychological assessment and EEG recordings before and after the meditative intervention. Furthermore, 10 additional subjects were recruited as normal controls. Source current density as an EEG parameter was estimated by exact Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (eLORETA). Comparisons of source current density in PTRD subjects after the meditative intervention with normal controls were investigated. Additionally, we compared source current density in PTRD subjects between before and after meditative intervention. Correlations between psychological assessments and source current density were also explored.

Results

After meditative intervention, PTRD subjects exhibited increased gamma activity in the left inferior parietal lobule relative to normal controls. In addition, changes of delta activity in the right precuneus correlated with changes in the psychological score on role physical item, one of the quality of life scales reflecting the work or daily difficulty due to physical problems.

Conclusions

These results show that the meditative intervention used in this study produces neurophysiological changes, in particular the modulation of oscillatory activity of the brain.

Significance

Our meditative interventions might induce the neurophysiological changes associated with the improvement of psychological symptoms in the PTRD subjects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402287/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

Mindfulness is Associated with Better Mental Health in Firefighters

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

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 with 7%-8% of the population developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). First responders such as firefighters and police experience traumatic events as part of their jobs and many develop symptoms of PTSD. This is responsible for the fact that wore firefighters and police officers die by suicide than all line-of-duty deaths combined. 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter and 129 officer line-of-duty deaths.

 

Obviously, stress and trauma effects are troubling problems for firefighters that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective.  Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, to reduce suicidality and to reduce the impact of trauma on the individual. So, a firefighter’s level of mindfulness may be associated with better mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/), Counson and colleagues recruited healthy firefighters who had experienced trauma in the last 6 months. The firefighters completed measures of mindfulness, anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being.

 

They found that the higher the firefighters’ levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of anxiety and depression and the higher the levels of psychological well-being. Hence, mindfulness was found to be associated with better mental health in these firefighters who are exposed to trauma. This study is correlational and no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness has causal effects on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. So, it is likely that the associations seen here were due to causal connections.

 

These results suggest that mindful firefighters are resistant to the effects of trauma. It has been shown the mindfulness is effective in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The present results then combined with these previous findings suggest that mindfulness may help to protect firefighters from trauma making it less likely that they’ll develop PTSD.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better mental health in firefighters.

 

targeted mindfulness training program increases some aspects of firefighter resilience (distress tolerance, positive adjustment, and perseverance). . . . The more lessons firefighters completed, the greater their improvements in both mindfulness and resilience.” – AMRA

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/

They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Counson, I., Hosemans, D., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Harvey, S. B., & Joyce, S. (2019). Mental health and mindfulness amongst Australian fire fighters. BMC psychology, 7(1), 34. doi:10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2

 

Abstract

Background

While extensive research has highlighted the positive mental health outcomes associated with mindfulness, little work has examined how mindfulness may protect the mental health of first responders exposed to trauma. This is important as there is increasing evidence that mindfulness skills, if protective, can be taught to groups of at-risk workers. The purpose of the current research was to examine the potential role mindfulness may have in supporting the mental health of Australian fire fighters.

Methods

The sample consisted of 114 professional fire fighters who completed demographic and job-related questions followed by measures of mindfulness (FMI-14), well-being (WHO-5), depression (HADS-D) and anxiety (HADS-A). Hierarchical multiple linear regressions were performed to determine whether levels of mindfulness were associated with anxiety, depression and wellbeing after accounting for age and number of years of fire service.

Results

High levels of mindfulness were associated with decreased depression (p ≤ .001) and anxiety (p ≤ .001) as well as increased psychological well-being (p ≤ .001). Measures of mindfulness were able to explain a substantial amount of the variability in well-being (26.8%), anxiety (23.6%) and depression (22.4%), regardless of age and years of fire service.

Conclusions

The present study provides evidence for robust associations between dispositional mindfulness and mental health markers of depression, anxiety and well-being in Australian fire fighters recently exposed to trauma. Mindfulness is a psychological characteristic that may be able to be modified, although further research is required to substantiate these findings and to formally test mindfulness interventions. Such studies would allow greater insight into the underlying mechanisms through which mindfulness may exert its beneficial effects.

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.1186/s40359-019-0311-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6570940/

 

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The mindfulness practices work at both a preventative and remedial level by assisting them to maintain higher levels of resilience to deal with their emergency responder roles and helping to reduce and cease distressing reactions after difficult personal and traumatic incidents.” – Mark Molony

 

First responders such as firefighters and police experience a great deal of stress and frequent traumatic events and as a part of their jobs. The first-responders need to be resilient in the face of these difficult circumstances to cope with the stress. It is possible that mindfulness training might help. Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience and reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. So, it is reasonable to infer that mindfulness training may help to develop resilience in first-responders and be of benefit to their mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/), Joyce and colleagues examine the ability of mindfulness training delivered with a smartphone app to increase the levels of resilience in first-responders. They recruited Primary Rescue and Hazmat firefighters and randomly assigned their stations to either receive 6, 20-25 minute, sessions  of mindfulness training or to an Healthy Living control condition. The mindfulness training was based upon Acceptance and Compassion Therapy (ACT) and emphasized mindfulness, self-acceptance, and compassion. Both programs were delivered through a smartphone app. The first-responders were measured before and after training and 6 months later for mindfulness, resilience, cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility, self-compassion, optimism, coping orientation, and life purpose.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, participation in the mindfulness training resulted in a significant increase in adaptive resilience and mindfulness which continued to increase over the 6-month follow-up period. Significant differences in optimism, and the use of instrumental and emotional support were present at the end of training but were not sustained at follow-up. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in “bounce-back” resilience.

 

Adaptive resilience involves the ability to adapt to stressful life circumstances and events. It involves the “individual’s ability to tolerate experiences such as change, personal problems, illness, pressure, failure, and painful feelings.” On the other hand, “bounce-back” resilience involves the ability to recover from stressful events. Since mindfulness focuses the individual on the present moment, it would be expected that it would influence the experience and coping with stressful events as they’re occurring. This is the case with adaptive resilience. On the other hand, mindfulness moves attention away from past events and would thus not be expected to influence coping with past stressful events as is the case with “bounce-back” resilience. Hence, it makes sense that mindfulness training would affect adaptive resilience and not “bounce-back” resilience.

 

It is important for the well-being of first responders that they be able to cope with the, at times, intense stress and trauma involved in their jobs. Hence, mindfulness training may be very beneficial as the present results suggest. This may help to prevent illness, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the fact that mindfulness was taught with a smartphone app is important as it makes the training convenient and adaptable to the individual’s schedule. It is also highly scalable allowing for inexpensive widespread availability of the training.

 

So, Improve Resilience in First-Responders with a Smartphone Mindfulness App.

 

“Because PTSD is an anxiety disorder, episodes of distress occur when a person begins to worry about the future based on previous painful, intense or stressful memories. Meditation can help bring that person’s attention back to the current moment, which reduces or eliminates anxiety.” – Erin Fletcher

 

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

 

Joyce, S., Shand, F., Lal, T. J., Mott, B., Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, S. B. (2019). Resilience@Work Mindfulness Program: Results From a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial With First Responders. Journal of medical Internet research, 21(2), e12894. doi:10.2196/12894

 

Abstract

Background

A growing body of research suggests that resilience training can play a pivotal role in creating mentally healthy workplaces, particularly with regard to protecting the long-term well-being of workers. Emerging research describes positive outcomes from various types of resilience training programs (RTPs) among different occupational groups. One specific group of workers that may benefit from this form of proactive resilience training is first responders. Given the nature of their work, first responders are frequently exposed to stressful circumstances and potentially traumatic events, which may impact their overall resilience and well-being over time.

Objective

This study aimed to examine whether a mindfulness-based RTP (the Resilience@Work [RAW] Mindfulness Program) delivered via the internet can effectively enhance resilience among a group of high-risk workers.

Methods

We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) comprising 24 Primary Fire and Rescue and Hazmat stations within New South Wales. Overall, 12 stations were assigned to the 6-session RAW Mindfulness Program and 12 stations were assigned to the control condition. A total of 143 active full-time firefighters enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were administered at baseline, immediately post training, and at 6-month follow-up. Measurements examined change in both adaptive and bounce-back resilience as well as several secondary outcomes examining resilience resources and acceptance and mindfulness skills.

Results

Mixed-model repeated measures analysis found that the overall test of group-by-time interaction was significant (P=.008), with the intervention group increasing in adaptive resilience over time. However, no significant differences were found between the intervention group and the control group in terms of change in bounce-back resilience (P=.09). At 6-month follow-up, the group receiving the RAW intervention had an average increase in their resilience score of 1.3, equating to a moderate-to-large effect size compared with the control group of 0.73 (95% CI 0.38-1.06). Per-protocol analysis found that compared with the control group, the greatest improvements in adaptive resilience were observed among those who completed most of the RAW program, that is, 5 to 6 sessions (P=.002).

Conclusions

The results of this RCT suggest that mindfulness-based resilience training delivered in an internet format can create improvements in adaptive resilience and related resources among high-risk workers, such as first responders. Despite a number of limitations, the results of this study suggest that the RAW Mindfulness Program is an effective, scalable, and practical means of delivering online resilience training in high-risk workplace settings. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a mindfulness-based RTP delivered entirely via the internet has been tested in the workplace.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6399574/