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Review of Key Studies on Mindfulness and Positive Thinking

To read a comprehensive review of each key study, simply click on each study's citation:

 

Burpee, L. C., & Langer, E. J. (2005). Mindfulness and Marital Satisfaction. Journal of Adult Development, 12(1), 43–51. doi:10.1007/s10804-005-1281-6.
Introduction: This study examines if mindfulness is correlated with overall marital satisfaction and compare this relationship with previously studied variables, such as perceived spouse similarities and various demographic factors.

Prevalent theories and multiple earlier studies have postulated, that both personality and behavioral congruency in couple are strong indicators for marital satisfaction, as these spouses share similar personality characteristics and tend to be less argumentative. Burpee and Langer's 2005 study takes a novel approach to the existing theoretical explanations for marital bliss, suggesting that mindfulness may explain perceived congruence fully, since mindful individuals are characterized by the ability to consider alternative perspectives, draw novel distinctions across situations, reevaluate their stance and question automatic behavior, defying the limits of categories and premature cognitive commitments" (p.45). The authors further hypothesize that the fundamental quality of open-mindedness that is related to the construct of mindfulness could be strongly related to developing a positive and satisfying relationship and possibly increasing general well-being.

Method: The study consisted of 95 married participants (55 women and 40 men) between the ages of 25 and 74, who provided extensive demographic information, life satisfaction and marital satisfaction questionnaires and a mindfulness scale. The measure of of mindfulness was based a scale developed by Langer (2001) and assessed four dimensions: novelty seeking, novelty producing, flexibility and engagement.

Results: The mean normalized marital satisfaction score was 80.16 (SD=6.62) and the mean normalized mindfulness score was 69.76 (SD=8.28) and a further analyses identified a positive correlation between mindfulness and marital satisfaction. Interestingly, perceived spouse similarities were not associated with marital satisfaction.

A predictive equation analysis indicated that nearly 8% of marital satisfaction was due to mindfulness. The authors then examine if the four dimensions of mindfulness identified with the scale hold different correlations with marital satisfaction. The novelty producing (M = 48.15, SD = 8.50; r = .26, r2 = .07, p < .05) and novelty seeking variables (M = 57.51, SD = 7.83; r = .22, r2 = .09, p < .01) were both statistically significant and positively correlated with satisfaction in marriage, whereas flexibility scores did not indicate significant relationship. Demographic variables combined accounted for 20% of marital satisfaction (R=.45, R2=.198, p<.05). When separate demographic variables were analyzed, regression analyses revealed that mindfulness is particularly important among certain demographic subgroups: participants older than 40 years of age, those married only once and for more than 9 years, participants with children, those with pets, those with none ore one sibling, and those with no older siblings.

Conclusion: There is a strong relationship between mindfulness and marital satisfaction, which shows that spouses who are open to new experiences, mentally engaged  with overall high mindfulness scores have more satisfying relationships. Mindfulness was also more likely to contribute to less arguments for the couple. There was no significant relationship between marital satisfaction and perceived personality similarities. Burpee and Langer discuss possible explanations for the importance of mindfulness to smooth marital interactions, hypothesizing that mindful individuals are less threatened by change, less likely to react impulsively to conflict, but rather reevaluate situations.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: The researchers mention how married couples with children experience less marital satisfaction, but are not equipped to examine possible explanations. For a future study they could look more closely at the relation to children and marital happiness. Further, the article provides no mention of alternative explanations for the findings or attempts to account for confounding variables. It is possible that mindful individuals exhibit certain personality traits or behavioral tendencies that contribute to general relationship satisfaction. Future studies should attempt to examine personality traits more closely. In addition, it is important to question if mindfulness improves relationships across the board or affects marital satisfaction specifically.

 

Caprara, G. V., Steca, P., Gerbino, M., Paciello, M., & Vecchio, G. M. (2006). Looking for adolescents’ well-being: Self-efficacy beliefs as determinants of positive thinking and happiness. Epidemiologia e psichiatria sociale, 15(01), 30–43.
Introduction: Researchers have been interested in subjective well-being (SWB) for a long time. Over the last decade there has been an increased interest in the relationship between positive thinking, happiness and SWB. The authors of this study recognize the importance of these constructs and their relationship but they also suggest that self-esteem and optimism should be included as constructs of interest. Both these variables have been found to be correlated with psychosocial well-being and various other positive outcomes. Another important variable that they find crucial is self-efficacy, which is pivital in adolescents as well as in young adults and contributes to learning, work, sports, health, social adjustment, and well-being.

The study is valuable it utilizes both a longitudinal design for a large number of adolescent subjects and the impact of self efficacy, happiness and SWB in a critical developmental period. Such a longitudinal design can provide insights about optimal adolescent development and youth's happiness in relation to other social and psychological constructs. Further, the study examines the concurrent impact of a number of factors on adolescent happiness and how it is experiences in daily events over a period of time.

Method: Participants in the study were 664 Italian adolescents with the mean age of 16.73 years, with widely diverse socioeconomic status. The participants were asked to complete questionnaires  at two different times. The self efficacy measures (affective self-efficacy beliefs, interpersonal-social self-efficacy beliefs and psychometric characteristics of self-efficacy) were only administered at Time 1. The remaining measures were subjective well-being, self-esteem, optimism, life satisfaction and happiness.

Results: Boys had a stronger sense of efficacy in managing negative affect (F=23.10, p<.001). They also had higher levels of self-esteem at TI (F=11.96, p<.01). Girls had a stronger sense of efficacy in regulating positive affect (F=8.91, p<.01). Positive thinking at both times represented a hidden factor pertaining to self-esteem, optimism, and life satisfaction. Positive thinking and self-efficacy were stable and both times, but related.

Conclusion: “Perceived self-efficacy for affect regulation and for the management of interpersonal relationships influence adolescents’ subjective well-being.” Both affective and interpersonal self-efficacy play a role in subjective well-being and increase positive thinking of both themselves and their lives. The data also indicated that managing appropriate affect with their relationship with family and friends contributes to subjective well-being.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: One limitation discussed by the researchers is the use of self-reports, which can be unreliable or invalid in its subjectivity. The fact that data was collected from Italian adolescents alone questions the external validity of the study, as findings may not be generalizable to adolescents in other parts of the world. Future development of standardized inventories with tested validity and reliability can help compare findings across nations.

 

Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2007). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23–33. doi:10.1007/s10865-007-9130-7.
Introduction: There is a vast amount of research supporting the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness training, but he number of identified facets of mindfulness varies between studies. An exploratory factor analysis of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) by Baer et al. (2006) has specifically identified the five factors with the highest loading: observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judging of inner experiences and non-reactivity to inner-experiences. These five facets have shown good internal consistency and correlations to variables, known to be related to mindfulness, such as emotional intelligence, openness to experience, experiential avoidance and thought suppression. The study examines the effects of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) and in-home mindfulness training on psychological wellbeing and stress reduction.

The study demonstrates a rigorous scientific analyses based on self-report measures in a pre- and post-treatment conditions. While the method is not a controlled experiment with a control group and random assignment, it provides a valuable insight about practical clinical applications of mindfulness and its tendency to increase subjective well-being. The authors provide a detailed account of methodology and statistical analyses, as well as subject exclusion criteria and demographics, managing to capture implications of specific mindfulness training methods for a well-defined population sample. The use of standardized measures allows future studies to replicate the study.

Method: Participants in the study were  174 adults (63% female) from the University of Massachusetts Medical School MBSR program who had suffered from a range of chronic pain, anxiety and stress. The average age of the participants was 47 years (SD=10.26). The participants attended 8 instructional sessions, filling a questionnaire  after each session. The  measures used in the study were  demographics questionnaire, mindfulness inventory (FFMQ), home mindfulness practice (assessed with homework logs), psychological symptoms (Brief Symptom Inventory, BSI), medical symptoms (Medical Symptom Checklist, MSCL), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale, PSS), and psychological well-being (Scales of Psychological Well-Being) (p.26).  One goal of the researchers was to measure mindfulness pre- and post-MBRS, as well as effects of home mindfulness practice. Effects on well being pre- and post-mindfulness training were also examined.

Results: Practicing the body scan was associated with higher levels of mindfulness. Yoga practice had an association with changes to four to five facets: well-being, perceived stress level, and sever psychological symptoms. Sitting and meditating was associated with increase of two of mindfulness facets: awareness and non-reactivity. These findings show that greater practice is associated with more mindfulness and well-being, as well as decrease in stress and its symptoms. “Meditation practice time was a significant predictor of decrease in psychological symptoms (R = .30, F = 11.39, p < .01), and of increase in mindfulness (R = .42, F = 21.95, p < .001). Increase in mindfulness also was a significant predictor of decrease in symptoms (R = .49, F = 46.50; p < .001)" (p.30). Meditation practice time was a significant predictor of decrease in perceived stress (R = .26, F = 8.30, p < .01) and of increase in mindfulness (R = .42, F = 46.50, p < .001). Meditation practice time was a significant predictor of well-being (R = .42, F = 24.14, p < .001).

Conclusion: The results show that mindfulness increased over the course of MBSR and  indicate that home practice meditation exercises (body scan, yoga, sitting) were significantly correlated to most facets of mindfulness, and several measures of symptoms and well-being. The increase in mindfulness was associated with decrease in psychological symptoms and decreased stress, pointing to the overall beneficial effect of mindfulness on well-being.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: A noted limitation of the study is the fact that the participants were well educated and and financial resourceful which limits the generalizability of the findings. There is also a possibility that the participants did not complete the practice forms on days that they were not assigned homework. The lack of true experimental design with control group and random assignment poses a limitation for the internal validity of the results. Future study designs should attempts to compare mindfulness training with alternative approaches, whether therapy, standard medical treatments, self-help groups and no interventions to establish if mindfulness is a truly unique and successful in promoting well-being, or comparable to other approaches.  

 

Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological science, 13(2), 172–175.
Introduction: Positive emotions make people feel better. The researchers believe that this is not the only reason to care about positive emotions. They argue that positive emotions make you feel good in the present and will also make you feel good in the future. The research is based on Frederickson’s  broaden-and-build theory (1998, 2001) suggesting that negative emotions narrow thought action repertoires while positive emotions broaden the parameters of creative thinking, attention and cognition, thus increasing emotional well-being. This study examines of positive emotions do trigger an upward spiral towards well-being.

The study is important in the way that it tests and expands an existing theoretical model that discusses the relationship between emotional content and subsequent emotional well-being, suggesting the longitudinal effects of emotional states.

Methods: Participants were 138 undergraduate students (mean age of 20, SD=1.3; 71% Caucasian; 54% female), who completed measures of affect and coping in two sessions, five weeks apart. The measures used were the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) and the Coping Responses Inventory (CRI; Moos, 1988).

Results: Consistent with their first hypothesized, Fredrickson and Joiner observed that positive affect (PA), but not negative affect (NA) enhanced broad-minded coping between the two testing sessions. PA at T1 was significantly related to changes in broad-minded coping between sessions (pr=.19), t(134)=2.25, p=.05, but T1 NA was not. The second research question examined if the relationship between PA and broad-minded coping works in both directions, so that this type of coping can be associate with increase PA, but not reduced NA. Their predictions were supported by two regressions equations, revealing that students who coped better initially also indicated higher increased PA by the second session (pr=.32),t(135)=3.83,p<.05, but there was no significant association with changes in NA. The other two research hypotheses examined if PA and good broad-minded coping will increase over time, pointing to their idea of upward temporal spiral of aspects of emotional well-being. Series of regression analyses, controlling for mediators confirmed these hypotheses so that PA at T1 was a significant predictor for PA at T2 (pr=.45), t(135) = 5.82, p<.05  and broad-minded coping at T1 predicted coping at T2 (pr=.54), t(135)=7.37, p<.05.

Conclusion: The data shows that positive emotions do more than just make people feel good in the present, but may also increase positive emotions in the future. A similar conclusion is drawn for broad-minded coping skills, which are considered healthy, flexible and adaptive.  Further, the two appeared to be related and mutually enhancing of one another over time.

Limitations and Future Directions: The authors do not discuss limitations. However, it is important to remember the sample consisted solely of undergraduate students in young adulthood, who are not only considered a high-functioning group, but developmentally tend to increase their repertoire of coping skills and are likely to be motivated and striving to improve. The homogeneity of the sample poses a limitation for the external validity of the findings. It would be beneficial for future studies to examine if the theoretical principles and variable associations can be replicated for other demographic groups. In addition, the temporal effect examined was only observed in the relatively brief period of five weeks. Future studies could examine if the same associations would persist over longer periods of time. The authors also discuss clinical implications of the results that can aid  clinician working with depressed patients, possibly increasing depressed individuals'  coping and therapeutic skills as well as positive emotionality.

 

Hollis-Walker, L., & Colosimo, K. (2011). Mindfulness, self-compassion, and happiness in non-meditators: A theoretical and empirical examination. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 222–227. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.09.033

Introduction: Literature has shown that mindfulness is a natural quality that promotes adaptive human functioning. The introduction was broken into three different parts. The first being the nature of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept that is a practice of being self aware of here and now. A lack of mindfulness is as if you are putting your brain in auto pilot. Mindfulness also involves a non-judging and non-identifying attitude. The second part is self-compassion. The only way to achieve self-compassion is by having compassion for others and being able to share in the pain and alleviation of others. According to Buddhist psychology, higher levels of self-compassion and mindfulness relates to higher levels of happiness. The third part of the introduction was eudaimonism, which focuses on pleasure more than humanistic realistic experiences.

Hollis’ study from 2011 was identified as key study because it examined the relation between mindfulness, psychological well-being, self-compassion, and five factor model. It was determined that high on mindfulness scored high with self –compassion and psychological well-being

Methods: The study consisted of 123 undergraduate students with the mean age of 21 and the majority being females. To be considered the participants could not have been regularly practicing meditation. The participants were given an online self reported questionnaire to complete that examined these measures: Mindfulness, Psychological Well-Being (PWB), Self-Compassion, and the Five-Factor Model of Personality.

Results: Mindfulness was positively correlated to PWB (r=.75), self-compassion (r=.69), agreeableness (r=.36), openness (r=.35), negatively with neuroticism (r=-.66), extraversion (r=.42), and conscientiousness (r=.46). Mindfulness (the IV) significantly predicted self-compassion (the proposed mediator) (b = .69, R2 = .47, p < .001) and PWB (the DV) (b = .75, R2 = .55, p < .001). Mindfulness regression weight on PWB was reduced but remained significant (b = .46, R2 = .64, p < .001)

Conclusion: Participants who scored high on mindfulness also scored high with self-compassion, psychological well-being, agreeableness, extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness, and low on neuroticism. Self compassion was also a partial mediator of happiness and well-being.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: The researchers suggest that self-compassion be employed by therapists as means to increase the clients happiness. They also want to focus more study on self-compassion to see what specific aspects are doing the work.

 

Howell, A. J., Digdon, N. L., Buro, K., & Sheptycki, A. R. (2008). Relations among mindfulness, well-being, and sleep. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(8), 773–777. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.08.005
Introduction: Lack of sleep normally involves anxiety, mood disorders, substance-related disorders, psychotic disorders, and cognitive disorders. Mental health is a combination of: emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being. A final marker of mental health is mindfulness, which is the idea of being aware of oneself. Mindfulness is known for promoting high levels of well-being. There is not much research though on mindfulness, well-being, and sleep. Studies have shown how sleep and happiness/well-being are positively correlated but this article wants to focus on how mindfulness plays a role. Another aspect of the study that the researchers want to study was the individual's circadian rhythm and see how that correlates to well-being.

Howell’s study from 2008 was identified as a key study because it examined the relationship between sleep and mindfulness. It was found that mindfulness had a direct association with well-being and sleep quality
Method: The study consisted of 305 undergraduate students between the ages of 18-30 years. The students completed and the online questionnaires examining these four measures: well-being, mindfulness, sleep quality, and circadian rhythm preference.

Results: The participants age was a correlate of mindfulness r(280) = .21, p < .001. A higher year of study was associated with psychological well-being, r(267) = .12, p < .05, social well-being, r(270) = .17, p < .01, overall well-being, r(242) = .14, p < .05, and mindfulness, r(279) = .14, p < .05. Grade point average was a positive correlate of emotional well-being, r(240) = .19, p < .01, psychological well-being, r(228) = .16, p < .05, overall well-being, r(210) = .16, p < .05, and sleep quality, r(214) = .16, p < .05. The three well-being scales had a positive correlation with sleep-quality.

Conclusions: This is the first study to compare sleepy quality and circadian preference. Mindfulness had a positive association to sleep quality and morningness. The researchers found that mindfulness had a direct association with well-being and sleep quality. Sleep quality also predicted a higher score of well-being.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: They study was limited to the population size and gender of the participants. The researchers did not account for the students ethnicities and the majority of them were Canadian. The researchers suggest for future research to emphasis more on mindfulness and well-being in regards to sleep.

 

Huppert, F. A., & Johnson, D. M. (2010). A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools: The importance of practice for an impact on well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(4), 264–274.

Introduction: There has been a lot of recent debate on whether schools focus enough on the students well-being. Mindfulness has been often studied recently and it has proven to promote positivity and an increased well-being. There has not been much emphasis on school children but more with adults and the studies done with school children focus on adolescents with emotional issues. The researchers hypothesize that mindfulness training may increase positive feelings. Mindfulness has also shown a significant association to improving mental health, chronic pain, immune functioning, and other health related factors.

Huppert’s study from 2010 was identified as a key study because it examined the benefits of mindfulness in adolescents and its effect on their happiness.

Method: The participants consisted of 173 14 to 15 year old boys from a religious studies class. The participants were separated into a mindfulness group and a control group. The mindfulness group attended four 40 minute classes, once a week. These classes were an introduction to the prinicpal and practices of mindfulness meditation. Each week there was always a new concept of mindfulness being introduced. The control group continued to go to their Religious studies class for the duration of the study. Both groups completed an online questionnaire before and after the 4 weeks. The questionnaires examined mindfulness (CAMS-R), resilience (ERS), well-being (WEMWBS), and personality (the Big Five).

Results: “For the mindfulness scale (CAMS-R), there was a significant overall effect of personality (F (5,149) = 10.38, p <0.001) with conscientiousness ( = .244, p < .001) and emotional stability ( = .403, p < .001) contributing positively and significantly to the mindfulness score. For the Ego Resiliency Scale there was a significant overall effect of personality (F (5,149) = 16.57, p < .001), with extraversion ( = .232, p < .001), agreeableness (marginal, = .126, p < .10), conscientiousness ( = .195, p < .001), emotional stability ( = .169, p < .05) and openness to experience ( = .383, p < .001) all contributing positively and significantly to resilience. For the WEMWBS there was a significant overall effect of personality (F (5,149) = 21.72, p < .001), with extraversion ( = .355, p < .001), conscientiousness ( = .141, p < .05), emotional stability ( = .340, p < .001) and openness to experience ( = .182, p < .001) contributing positively and significantly to well-being.”Practice was found to contribute significantly to the prediction of change in mindfulness ( = .245, p < .05) and to the change in well-being ( = .23, p < .05). The change in well-being was also associated with several of the baseline personality measures; agreeableness ( = .32, p < .01), emotional stability ( = -0.24, p < .05), and openness to experience (marginal, = 0.19, p < .10).

Conclusion: The researchers found that within the mindfulness group the more that the participants practiced the higher the psychological well-being and happiness was. They also found that the mindfulness group had higher percentage of individual practice outside the group as well as an improvement in psychological well-being

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: The researchers gave advice on what can be done to improve future studies. They believe that there should be a consistency with the teachers mediating the control and the mindfulness group. The researchers also mention how the control group should also be a placebo control. There should be a more detailed reliable measures of personality. The next step the researchers plan to take is to have more class sessions and to involve girls.

 

Majumdar, M., Grossman, P., Dietz-Waschkowski, B., Kersig, S., & Walach, H. (2002). Does mindfulness meditation contribute to health? Outcome evaluation of a German sample. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 8(6), 719–730.
Introduction: Alternative medicine has become an appealing choice for individuals with medical conditions. There is an urgency to find one that is cost effective, efficient, and appropriate. Mindfulness falls under all three of those categories. Mindfulness meditation do not have any roots in the clinical application as well as religious beliefs. It is meant to become non-judgemental on your perceptions, thoughts, and feelings to attain an appreciation of the positive and negative experiences. Recent studies have proven that MBSR has reduced psychological symptomatology, anxiety, pain, psoriasis, depression, etc. while increasing perception of control and empathy. This study is the first systematic evaluation of MBSR in Germany.

Majumar’s study from 2002 was identified as a key study because it examined the relation between chronic physical and psychological pain to mindfulness. It was discovered that participants were less symptomatic when practicing mindful meditation.

Method: The participants consisted of 21 individuals between the ages of 22-62 years. The participants all had chronic physical, psychological, and psychosomatic illnesses. The participants were involved in an eight week session and they were given self-reported questionnaires at the beginning and end of the eight weeks. They had to attend sessions weekly and for 2.5 hours and also had to complete 7 hours on the 6th week. The sessions involved mindfulness practice of the body and emotions. There was also a three month follow up interview. The questionnaires measured: psychological distress, emotional well-being, physical complaints, sense of coherence, and life satisfaction.

Results: The researcher found that general physical well-being greatly increased from pre-treatment to post-treatment (p < .001 and p < 0.047). The baseline for physical complaints was at a 7 and after the follow up went down to a 6. 91% of the clients reported to continue practicing mindfulness after the sessions were over. 90% of the participants said that mindfulness complemented medical and psychotheraputic treatments.

Conclusion: All of the health variables in this study that were clinically assessed had raise from pre-test to post-test. The data proved that suffering was alleviated with symptom reduction or with advanced coping skills. The clients also reported high levels of satisfaction with the study. Mindfulness meditation is a great tool to help aid various chronic disease and psychosomatic disorders.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: Since mindfulness meditation is new to Europe this was a pilot study which tend to consist of a small amount of participants. The researchers also suggest for future studies to focus on other aspects like, phenomenological explorations of mindfulness and states of consciousness.

 

Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. ., Wahler, R. G., Singh, J., & Sage, M. (2004). Mindful caregiving increases happiness among individuals with profound multiple disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 25(2), 207–218. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2003.05.001
Introduction: The quality of life (QOL) in individuals with mental retardation has always been poor. The basics to QOL are: subjective well-being, functioning in daily life, and external resources. Subjective well-being is based on satisfaction with life which can be determined by happiness. A individual with mental retardation may find happiness in leisurely activities. Studies have shown that these activities increase the amount of times an individual smiles. The question is can caregivers increase the happiness of these individuals by changing their own behavior during one on one interactions.

Singh’s study from 2004 was identified as a key study because it showed the importance of caretakers, of mentally ill patients, practicing mindfulness. It was discovered that the more mindful the caregiver, the happier the patient.

Methods: This study consisted of two types of participants the residents and the caregivers. The resident participants were three adult males Bruce (45), Steve (54), and Dave (55). All three men were diagnosed with mental retardation. The caregiver participants were six African American women who worked the day shift. The caregivers were split into top three (Jane, Penny, Cindy) and bottom three (Linda, Kris, Rachel). Each of the residents were randomly assigned two of the caregivers: Jane and Penny with Bruce, Cyndie and Linda with Steve, and Kris and Rachel with David. The residents were given three leisure phases and they each lasted about 15 minutes. The researchers gathered baseline data during this time. Three of the caregivers were trained in mindfulness and were asked to practice it. Data was collected at four, seven and twelve weeks.

Results: At the baseline Bruce’s happiness was pretty high, with Jane it was 10.3 and Penny 11.3. Jane was trained and mindfulness and during the practice phase Bruce’s happiness increased to 25.2 while Penny’s increased to 12.5. The second group Cyndie and Linda were paired with Steve. At baseline Cyndie had 3.6 while Linda had 11.4. Cyndie was trained in mindfulness and during the third phase Steve’s happiness raised to 15.1 with Cyndie and 11.6 for Linda. The final pair was Rachel and Kris who were paired with Dave. At baseline Rachel had 2.8 while Kris had 2.4. Kris was the trained caregiver and after the third phase Dave’s happiness raised to 3.1 for Rachel and 13.0 for Kris.

Conclusion: The data shows that levels of happiness of the three mentally ill men had a very significant increase during their leisure sessions. It goes to show that providing more mindfulness training to caregivers could increase the happiness of the patients that they are caring for.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: The researchers had a very small sample size to work with making it difficult to be representative of the rest of the population. For future directions they suggest involving therapists and others involved in providing human services. The researchers also did not examine the change in the caregiver which they believe could be relevant for future studies.

 

Witek-Janusek, L., Albuquerque, K., Chroniak, K. R., Chroniak, C., Durazo-Arvizu, R., & Mathews, H. L. (2008). Effect of mindfulness based stress reduction on immune function, quality of life and coping in women newly diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 22(6), 969–981. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2008.01.012
Introduction: Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths to women in the United States. Many negative symptoms can come from it, not only physical but psychological, anxiety, depression, fear, etc. The psychological effects alone can greatly reduce their quality of life (QOL). Even after receiving treatment there are still severe psychological disturbances. There have been many attempts to promote wellness and to reduce distress for cancer patients. The most promising treatment may be MBSR. Mindfulness training has already been proven to reduce psychological distress and that it might have the possibility of reversing the effects of psychological and immune disturbances.

Witek-Janusek’s study from 2008 was identified as a key study due to the evidence showing that revealed the psychological importance for mindfulness based stress reduction in cancer patients for their quality of life.

Method: The study consisted of 77 women between the ages of 35-75 years of age diagnosed with breast cancer who did not receive chemotherapy. The women were recruited from cancer centers and eligibility was determined by their physicians. The women were then split up into the MBSR intervention (N=44) and control group (N=31). The participants in the MBSR group met for three hours a week for eight weeks, and then a full day after the fifth week. The participants learned breath awareness, mindful yoga, and sitting and walking meditation. Immune, QOL, coping, and cortisol were examined at four different times. The first point (T1) was 10 days after surgery, (T2) was midway through the MBSR training, (T3) was after completion of MBSR, and (T4) took place a month after it ended.

Results:
A) Immunological Assessments: The women in the MBSR group had an increase in the NKCA by T4 (98% CI = 43.6 to 62.2 LU). The MBSR group produced less IL-4 (p =0.001), as well as an increase in IL-6 (p=0.008).
B) Plasma Cortisol: Women with cancer in the MBSR group had lower levels of cortisol by (p=0.002) while the cancer free participants in both groups had an elevation of (p<0.05).
C) QOL and Coping Assessments: The participants in the MBSR group expressed more satisfaction in psychological - spiritual QOL compared to the non-MBSR group. The most noteable time periods of change were at T3 (p=0.06; 98% CI=3.43 to 4.57) and T4 (p=0.001; 98% CI=2.99 to 4.01). They also had an increase in satisfaction with family at T3(p=0.06; 98% CI = 2.75 – 3.21) and T4 (p=0.046; 98% CI = 1.72 – 3.80). Out of the eight coping styles assessed only two were effective, optimistic and supportant coping.

Conclusion: Women who participated in this study and were involved in MBSR found more satisfaction in QOL than those who weren’t. There was also an increase in global QOL during the MBSR. Specific improvements in QOL were psychological-spiritual and family domains. There also were improvements in immune functioning, coping, and effectiveness.

Noted Limitations and Future Directions: The study used restricted diagnostic and treatment inclusion criteria. The participants were are all the same gender and race. There has not been another study that effects on MBSR on recently diagnosed cancer patients undergoing treatment. The researchers suggest for future studies to focus more on the QOL of life and MBSR in cancer patients.