Research On Mindfulness

The excitement about the application of mindfulness meditation in mental health settings has led to the proliferation of a literature pervaded by a lack of conceptual and methodological self-criticism.We have two major concerns. First, the range of individual differences within the experience of meditation; although some people may benefit from its practice, others will not be affected in any substantive way, and a number of individuals may suffer moderate to serious adverse effects. Second, the insufficient or inconclusive evidence for its benefits, particularly when mindfulness-based interventions are compared with other activities or treatments.”

Farias, M., & Wikholm, C. (2016). Has the science of mindfulness lost its mind? BJPsych Bulletin, 40(6), 329332.  

Meta Analysis of Mindfulness

  • 209 studies enrolling 12,145 participants with a variety of disorders
  • Hedge’s g=0.53 in waitlist controlled studies, 0.55 in pre-post studies
  • When compared with other active treatments n=0.6
  • This indicates a moderate effect size

Bassam K., Et. al., (2013) Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis,
Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-777.

Napoli,  Krech  &  Holley  (2005)

  • Reported the results of  integrated mindfulness and relaxation work with 225 children with high anxiety, aged between  5-8 taking  part  in  the  ‘Attention   Academy  Program’ in  a  school  context.
  •  The  intervention  constituted  12  sessions  of  45   minutes  each.
  •  The  children  showed  significant  decreases  in  both  test  anxiety  and  ADHD   behaviors  and  also  an  increase  in  the  ability  to  pay  attention.
  • The  study  was  reasonably   strong  methodologically,  being  a  randomized  control  trial  (RCT)  with  a  large  sample,  and  the   use  of  objective  measures  of  attention.

Wall  (2005),

  •  In  a  small  study,  outlined  effort  programme to  teach  MBSR  and  Tai  Chi  in  a   mainstream  school  to  11-­13 year  olds  in  the  US
  • This brought  perceived  benefits  such   improved  well‐being,  calmness,  relaxation,  improved  sleep,  less  reactivity,  increased  self‐ care,  self‐awareness,  and  a  sense  of  connection with  nature.

Broderick  and  Metz  (2009)

  • The  “Learning  to  BREATHE”  curriculum  is  an  MBSR-­derived  mindfulness  programme  was   evaluated.
  • Their  study, conducted  with  a  year  group  of  17  to   19 year-­old  students  in  an  American  independent  girls’  school  showed decreases  in   negative  affect,  and  increases  in  calm,  relaxation,  self-­acceptance,  emotional  regulation,   awareness  and  clarity.

Huppert  and  Johnson  (2010) 

  • Reported  the  outcomes  of  the  Mindfulness  in  Schools  Project’s   (hereafter  MiSP)  pilot  mindfulness  programme  with 14  to  15  year­‐old  male  students.
  • Conducted  in  two  English  independent  boys’  schools,  a  four‐week  mindfulness  training   produced  significant  effects  on  mindfulness,  ego‐resilience  or  well‐being  among  students   who  regularly  did  10  minutes  of  home  practice  a  day  and  smaller  changes  among  those   who  did  not.

Hennelly  (2011)

  • Looked  at  sixty  eight  adolescent  students  aged  between  14  and  16 from   typical,  mixed‐gender  secondary  schools  who  followed  the  full eight  week  course.
  •  There   were  significant  differences  between  participant  and  control  groups’ mindfulness, resilience   and  well-­being,  with  longer  term  effects  being even  greater  than  immediate  effects.
  • Students,  teachers  and  parents  also  reported  subjective  improvements  in  students’   motivation  and  confidence,  competence  and  effectiveness.

Schonert‐Reichl  and  Lawlor  (2010)

  • Investigated  a  mindfulness-­based  program, delivered  by   teachers,  involving 10  lessons  and  three  times  daily  practice  of  mindfulness  meditation.
  • Overall,  there  was  a  significant  increase  in  scores  on  self-­report  measures  of  optimism  and   positive  emotions.
  • Teacher  reports  showed  an  improvement  in  social  and  emotional   competence for children  in  the  intervention  group,  and  a  decrease  in  aggression  and   oppositional  behaviour.

Joyce et  al.  (2010)

  • Reported  pre and  post group  differences  in  children  aged  10 to 13 years  on   measures  of  behaviour  problems  and depression.
  •  The  10  week  program  delivered  by   teachers  lead  to  a  significant  reduction  in  self‐reported  behavioural  problems  and   depression scores,  particularly  in  pupils  with  clinically  significant  levels  of  problem  before   the  intervention.

Liehr  and  Diaz (2010)

  • Carried  out  a  small  randomized  trial  comparing  a  mindfulness based  intervention  with  another  approach.
  •  Eighteen  minority  and  disadvantaged  children   recruited  from  a  summer  camp  were  randomly  assigned  to  either  a  mindfulness‐based   intervention  in  which  they  went  to  ten  15  minute  classes  on  mindful  breathing  and   movement  for  two  weeks,  or  to  a  heath  education group,  both  interventions  focusing  on   depression  and  anxiety.
  •  There  was  a  significant  reduction  in  depression symptoms  for  those   in  the  mindfulness  group  and  a  reduction  in  anxiety for  both  groups,  in  the  immediate post treatment  follow  up.

Lau   and   Hue   (2011) 

  • Carried   out   a   pilot   controlled   trial   assessing   preliminary   outcomes   of   a   mindfulness based   programme  in  schools  in  Hong  Kong  for twenty  four 14  to  16 year old adolescents   with   low   academic   performance   from   two   secondary   schools,   with   similar   size   control   groups.
  • There  was  a  significant  decrease  in  symptoms  of  depression   and   a   significant   increase   in   wellbeing among   the   young   people  who  received  the  intervention.

Semple  et  al.  (2010)

  • Assessed  the  impact  of  a  12 week  group   program  based  on  MBCT  in  9  to  13 year  old  children  who   were  struggling  academically.
  • Significant improvements  were   found  on  measures  of  attention and  reductions  in  anxiety   and  behaviour  problems compared  to  those  who  had  not   yet  had  the  programme.

Saltzman  and  Goldin  (2008) 

  • Reported  an  8 week  MBSR  intervention  with  31  children,  aged  9   to  11,  who  participated  with  their  parents.
  •  The  teachers  were  experienced  mindfulness   instructors.  Analysis  indicated  feasibility,  and  improvements  for  children  and  parents  in   attention,  emotional  reactivity  and  some  areas  of  meta-­cognition, based  on  self  and   parent  report  measures,  and  objective  measures  of  attention.

Beauchemin,  Hutchins  and  Patterson  (2008) 

  • Looked  at  the  feasibility  of,  attitudes  toward,   and  outcomes  of  a  5 week  mindfulness  meditation  intervention  administered  to  34   adolescents  diagnosed  with  learning  difficulties.
  • All  outcome  measures  showed  significant   improvement,  with  participants  who  completed  the  program  demonstrating  decreased   state  and  trait  anxiety,  enhanced  social  skills,  and  improved  academic  performance.
  • The   authors  hypothesised that  mindfulness  meditation  decreases  anxiety  and  negative  self   belief,  which,  in  turn,  promotes  social  skills  and  academic  outcomes.

Schonert‐Reichl  and  Hymel  (2007)

  • Reviewed  the  “MindUP”  programme  which  fosters  the   development  of  wellbeing  traits  using  social, emotional,  attentional  and  self regulation   strategies,  including  mindfulness  exercises.
  •  Teachers  noticed  improvements  in  9  to  13 year olds’ behaviour,  attention  and  focus.

Flook  et  al  (2010) 

  • Reviewed  the  “Inner  Kids”  mindfulness skills  programme  which  has  been   taught  around  the  world.  Evaluation  with  7  to  9 year olds  produced  parent  and  teacher rated  improvements  in  so  called  ‘executive  function’  (which  refers  to  the  ability  to  problem   solve,  plan,  initiate  and  control  and  monitor  one’s  own  actions,  to  pay  attention,  be   mentally  flexible and  multi task,  and  to  employ  verbal  reasoning).
  •  Those  with  lower  pre course  self regulation  were  observed  to  experience  greatest  improvements  in behavioural  regulation,  meta cognition  and  executive  function.

Kogels  et  al  (2008) 

  • Evaluated  the  impact  of   mindfulness  on  a  group  of  adolescents  diagnosed   with  attention and  behaviour control  deficits.
  • They  reported significant  increases  in  personal  goals,  sustained  attention,  happiness  and   mindful  awareness; changes  that  were  ratified  by  their  parents.

Zylowska  (2008) 

  • Reported the  results  of  a  pilot  study  of  8  adolescents  with  ADHD  who   took  part  in  a  mindfulness  course  and  showed improvements  on  tasks measuring  attention   and  cognitive  inhibition,  and  in  externally  observed  and  self  reported  anxiety  and   depressive  symptoms.

Biegel  et  al. (2009)

  • Studied  the  effects  of  a  modified  8  week  MBSR  course  for  4  to  18  year   olds  with  a  wide  range  of  diagnoses.
  •  When  compared  with  a  control  group,  the  young   people  who  received  MBSR self reported  significantly  reduced  symptoms  of  anxiety,   depression,  and  somatic  distress,  global  assessment  of  functioning  and  increased  self esteem  and  sleep  quality.

Mendelson  et  al.  (2010) 

  • Employed  a  mindfulness based  intervention  to  improve the  ability   to  self  regulate  in  nine  and  ten  year  olds  from  disadvantaged  backgrounds.
  • The  intervention   included  yoga based  physical  activity,  breathing  techniques  and  guided  mindfulness  practice   designed  to  help  children  manage  arousal  and  stress  levels.
  •  Some  significant  reductions   were  found  on  measures of  involuntary  response  to  stress and  there  was a  trend  for  greater   trust  in  friends
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