Summaries of research on Mindfulness

Abstract one:  Do Acceptance and Mindfulness Moderate the Relationship Between Maladaptive Beliefs and Posttraumatic Distress?  “Objective: Maladaptive pre- and posttraumatic beliefs are reliable predictors of distress in the wake of trauma. Acceptance and mindfulness skills may be associated with less distress in the presence of these beliefs, but few studies have explored these relationships. This study examined whether individual differences in acceptance and mindfulness moderate the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and distress in post deployment soldiers. Method: We explored the relationships between posttraumatic maladaptive beliefs, acceptance, mindfulness, and posttraumatic distress (posttraumatic stress disorder[PTSD] and general psychological symptoms) in a sample of recently post deployed active duty U.S. Army Soldiers (N _ 1,524). Results: Maladaptive thoughts, acceptance, and mindfulness predicted posttraumatic distress, adjusted for combat exposure. In addition, mindfulness partially moderated the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and PTSD symptoms, and acceptance partially moderated the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and general psychological symptoms. Moderation effects were small. Conclusions: These findings suggest that individual differences in acceptance and mindfulness may weakly mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress, but additional skills may be necessary to fully address maladaptive beliefs in Soldier post deployment.

Abstract two: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Outcomes of a Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Intervention for Culturally-Diverse, Low-Income Women in Substance Use Disorder Treatment.  We examined feasibility, acceptability, and benefits of a mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) intervention in a racially and ethnically diverse sample of

318 low-income women in substance use disorder treatment (2003–2006). The study used a single group, repeated measures design. Participant satisfaction was high (M = 3.4, SD = .3), but completion was modest (36%). Linear regressions examining change in addiction severity and psychological functioning by dosage showed that higher dosage was associated with reduced alcohol (β = −.07, p < .05), drug severity (β = −.04, p<.05), and perceived stress (β =−2.29, p<.05) at 12 months. Further research on MBRP efficacy for this population is warranted. The study’s limitations are noted.

Abstract three: Mindfulness Increases Prosocial Responses Toward Ostracized Strangers Through Empathic Concern.  Four studies tested the proposition that mindfulness and its training fostered prosociality toward ostracized strangers. In discovery Study 1, dispositional mindfulness predicted greater empathic concern for, and more helping behavior toward, an ostracized stranger. Using an experimental design, Study 2 revealed that very briefly instructed mindfulness, relative to active control instructions, also promoted prosocial responsiveness to an ostracized stranger. Study 3 ruled out alternative explanations for this effect of mindfulness, showing that it did not promote empathic anger or perpetrator punishment, nor that the control training reduced prosocial responsiveness toward an ostracized stranger rather than mindfulness increasing it. Study 4 further ruled out the alternative explanation of relaxation in the experimental effects of mindfulness. In all studies, empathic concern mediated the relation between mindfulness and one or both of the helping behavior outcomes. Meta-analyses of the four studies revealed stable, medium sized effects of mindfulness instruction on prosocial emotions and prosocial behavior. Together these findings inform about circumstances in which mindfulness may increase prosocial responsiveness, and deepen our understanding of the motivational bases of prosociality.

Abstract four: Mindfulness Meditation Adherence in a College Sample: Comparison of a 10-Min Versus 20-Min 2-Week Daily Practice.  Abstract Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are efficacious and effective for a variety of mental and physical health problems. Mindfulness meditation is a primary therapeutic strategy employed within MBIs and is hypothesized to increase mindfulness and, in turn, lead to positive outcomes. However, evidence in support of mindfulness meditation practice as a key treatment component in MBIs is mixed, in part because little is known about how prescribed meditation practice times and adherence to home-based meditation practice relate to one another and outcomes. The present study evaluated relations among adherence, meditation practice time, and psychiatric symptoms following two 2-week mindfulness meditation interventions:

one that prescribed 10-min daily meditation and another that prescribed 20-min daily meditation. Participants (N = 77; female = 56, Mage = 20.16; White = 51.9%; African American = 14.3%; Hispanic = 14.3%; Asian = 10.4%; other = 6.5%; multiethnic = 2.6%) also completed daily diaries to

assess adherence. Results indicated no significant group difference in total days meditated or overall time spent meditating. Stress declined and mindfulness increased over the 2 weeks for both groups. Despite no difference in adherence, participants in the 20-min group reported larger increases in self-compassion relative to those in the 10-min group. Implications for enhancing

adherence within MBIs are discussed

Abstract five: Prevention of Relapse/Recurrence in Major Depressive Disorder With Either Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy or Cognitive Therapy.  Objective: Both Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT) enhance self-management of prodromal symptoms associated with depressive relapse, albeit through divergent therapeutic procedures. We evaluated rates of relapse in remitted depressed patients receiving MBCT and CT. Decentering and dysfunctional attitudes were assessed as treatment-specific process markers. Method: Participants in remission from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD; N _ 166) were randomized to 8 weeks of either MBCT (N _ 82) or CT (N _ 84) and were followed for 24 months, with process markers measured every 3 months. Attendance in both treatments was high (6.3/8 session) and treatment fidelity and competence were evaluated. Relapse was defined as a return of symptoms meeting the criteria for major depression on Module A of the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (SCID). Results: Intention-to-treat analyses indicated no differences between MBCT and CT in either rates of relapse to MDD or time to relapse across 24 months of follow up. Both groups experienced significant increases in decentering and participants in CT reported greater reductions in dysfunctional attitudes. Within both treatments, participants who relapsed evidenced lower decentering scores than those who stayed well over the follow up. Conclusions: This is the first study to directly compare relapse prophylaxis following MBCT and CT directly. The lack of group differences in time to relapse supports the view that both interventions are equally effective and that increases in decentering achieved via either treatment are associated with greater protection. These findings lend credence to Teasdale et al.’s (2002) contention that, even though they may be taught through dissimilar methods, CT and MBCT help participants develop similar metacognitive skills for the regulation of distressing thoughts and emotions.

Abstract six: The effects of a brief mindfulness exercise on state mindfulness and affective

outcomes among adult daily smokers.  Brief, single session mindfulness training has been shown to reduce emotional distress, craving, and withdrawal symptoms among smokers when they are nicotine-deprived. However, no research has examined the efficacy of brief mindfulness training for non-nicotine-deprived smokers, or explored its effects on smokers’ ability to tolerate emotional distress. Smokers progress differently through various stages as they attempt to change their smoking behavior and evidence-based strategies are needed for smokers at all levels of nicotine deprivation. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of a brief mindfulness exercise on state mindfulness, distress, distress tolerance, and smoking urges following a distressing laboratory task among 86 non-nicotine-deprived adult daily smokers (Mage=46 years, 55% male, 74% African-American) who completed behavioral tasks and self-report measures before and after randomization to a 10-min mindfulness or control exercise. As hypothesized, the mindfulness exercise significantly increased state mindfulness [F =14.24, p =0.00, η2 partial =0.15] and demonstrated a non-significant small to medium effect on decreased distress levels [F =3.22, p=0.08, η2 partial=0.04]. Contrary to prediction, it was not associated with improvements in self reported [F =2.68, p=0.11, η2 partial= 0.03] or behavioral distress tolerance [F(1) =0.75, p=0.39, η2 partial =0.01], or smoking urges following a stressor [F= 0.22, p= 0.64, η2 partial =0.00.] These findings suggest that brief mindfulness exercises successfully induce states of mindfulness in non-nicotine-deprived smokers. These exercises might also improve current moment levels of distress, but they do not appear to improve self-report or behavioral indices of distress tolerance.

Assignment 4: Mindfulness Research

Six research articles were examined as they pertained to the effects of  mindfulness on Major Depressive Disorder (Farb, et al., 2017), alcohol, drug severity, trauma symptoms and perceived stress (Amaro, Spear, Zayda, Conron, & Black, 2014), concern for others (Berry, et al., 2018),  College Students and self-compassion (Berghoff, Wheeless, Ritzert, Wooley, & Forsyth, 2017), smokers (Luberto & McLeish, 2017), and PTSD (Shipherd & Salters-Pedneault, 2017). Among the studies there was consistency but only in certain areas.  In a few areas the research relating to mindfulness seems to be contradictory or ambiguous regarding the effectiveness or style of application.

In one study that compared Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and cognitive therapy (CT) there was found to be no difference in the relapse rates of depressed persons.  However, the researchers did find that both MBCT and CT were equally effective in reducing relapse rates. (Farb, et al., 2017). This was the only study that was considered that compared mindfulness and depressive symptoms.  

Interestingly a study that evaluated trauma symptoms (Amaro, Spear, Zayda, Conron, & Black, 2014) found that mindfulness had no significant impact on trauma symptoms.  However, an additional study that evaluated mindfulness and PTSD found that the results were only partially supported their hypothesis that there would be a correlation.  (Shipherd & Salters-Pedneault, 2017) Those researchers report that there was a relationship between mindfulness practice and maladaptive beliefs associated with PTSD. However, they found no a significant relationship between mindfulness and general symptoms of PTSD.  

The effect of mindfulness on stress seemed to be a common thread in the research that was considered.  The study mentioned earlier found that mindfulness had no effect on trauma symptoms surprisingly found that mindfulness practice significantly reduced stress levels.  (Amaro, Spear, Zayda, Conron, & Black, 2014) A study that evaluated college students found that mindfulness decreased stress (Berghoff, Wheeless, Ritzert, Wooley, & Forsyth, 2017)  Interestingly a study that looked at the effect of mindfulness on smokers found mindfulness practice could reduce “current moment levels of distress” (Luberto & McLeish, 2017) but that it did not improve general distress tolerance.  

Other findings included increased concern for others and self-compassion. (Berry, et al., 2018 & Berghoff, et al., 2017).   One of those studies found that mindfulness practice increased empathy and prosocial behavior towards, “ostracized strangers” (Luberto & McLeish, 2017)  The other found that 20 minutes of mindfulness based meditation improved self-compassion (Berghoff, Wheeless, Ritzert, Wooley, & Forsyth, 2017).

Another interesting area that was considered was the application of mindfulness and length of time required to produce results.  One study found that 5-9 weeks attending lengthy classes produced results but attending less did not. (Amaro, Spear, Zayda, Conron, & Black, 2014)  Another study found that 10 to 20 minutes of daily mindfulness meditation had positive effects (Berghoff, Wheeless, Ritzert, Wooley, & Forsyth, 2017).  Yet another study found that a “brief mindfulness exercise” of only 10 minutes “significantly increased state mindfulness” (Luberto & McLeish, 2017) 


Published by Ryan David Tuttle

PhD Graduate student studying Behavioral Neuroscience, Addiction, Stress, Behavioral Economics, and Individual Differences. Former member Ministerial Servant and Pioneer in a Spanish speaking congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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