Evaluation of the effects and mechanisms of a six-week Mindfulness program on psychological wellbeing in a community sample

Jessie Koh (2014). Evaluation of the effects and mechanisms of a six-week Mindfulness program on psychological wellbeing in a community sample Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Jessie Koh
Thesis Title Evaluation of the effects and mechanisms of a six-week Mindfulness program on psychological wellbeing in a community sample
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-06-10
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr. Paul Harnett
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary The empirical study of mindfulness has grown substantially over the recent years and mindfulness-based approaches are increasingly popular for treatment of mental health problems. Despite the increasing body of research showing that mindfulness-based interventions lead to beneficial outcomes, there remains a question over the mechanisms responsible for these changes. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate a 6-week group mindfulness-based program targeting adults from the general community. In addition to evaluating the efficacy of the program at decreasing rumination, psychological distress, and improving psychological wellbeing, the study aimed to examine the mechanisms of change. Specifically, whether improvements in psychological functioning are preceded by an increase in scores on a measure of mindfulness. A secondary aim of the study was to assess whether physiological recordings of heart rate variability (a proxy measures of emotional regulation) would detect changes at the level of the autonomic nervous system in response to mindfulness training. Four hypotheses were tested: (1) that scores on the mindfulness and psychological wellbeing measures would show improvement between pre- and post-intervention, and that scores on the measures of rumination and psychological distress would reflect a statistically and clinically significant decrease, (2) that an increase in mindfulness, the proposed mechanism of change, would precede significant reduction in rumination and psychological distress, and significant increase in psychological wellbeing, (3) that clinically significant increase in mindfulness would precede clinically significant reduction in rumination and psychological distress, and increase in psychological wellbeing, and (4) that mindfulness training would lead to more adaptive autonomic nervous system functioning as indicated by an increase in heart rate variability (HRV) metrics (HF-HRV nu, LF/HF and LogRSA). Thirty-six adults were recruited for the six-week program delivered by two facilitators via one 2-hour group session per week (12 hours in total). The program covered principles and basic skills of mindfulness practices and comprised an integrated sequence of exercises adapted from the general concepts of modern group-based mindfulness practices. Quantitative data were collected using self-report questionnaires on the first session (pre intervention), Session 2 to Session 6, and after the final session (post intervention). Physiological measures were collected from a sub-sample of 5 participants during each session of the program. Results showed a statistically significant improvement between pre-intervention and post-intervention in psychological distress and rumination, but not in psychological wellbeing. Nearly one-third of participants showed a clinically significant improvement on measures of mindfulness and psychological distress. Half of the participants showed a reduction in rumination, and a smaller proportion showed improvement in psychological wellbeing. Despite the statistically and clinically significant improvements, there was no clear evidence that the improvements on the outcomes measured were preceded by an increase in mindfulness scores. Overall, the results provide further support for the efficacy of a brief mindfulness-based program for non-clinical population of adults. However, the study did not find support for mindfulness as the mechanism responsible for the observed changes. Physiological recordings of heart rate variability failed to demonstrate systematic changes in autonomic nervous system activity in response to the mindfulness training.
Keyword Psychology
Mindfulness-based intervention

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Created: Tue, 10 Jun 2014, 13:19:08 EST by Jessie Koh on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service