Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This study examined the efficacy and processes at work in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) in a heterogeneous adult population (N = 71). Changes in mindfulness, psychological symptoms and physical functioning were examined, along with their relationship to course compliance variables and group support, and the mediational roles of mindfulness acquisition and mindfulness practice. The influence of gender, diagnostic factors and meditation experience on changes in mindfulness and health were also investigated, along with interactions between some of these variables and mindfulness acquisition on health improvements. Participants showed very strong overall positive effects on mindfulness and psychological symptoms and small positive effects in bodily pain and perceptions of general health, but did not improve in physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health or in overall physical health. Improvements in bodily pain and general health were linked to mindfulness acquisition, but there was no evidence that changes in psychological or physical health were mediated by mindfulness acquisition or practice. Gender, meditation experience, and health condition type did not influence changes in mindfulness or health, but meditation experience interacted with improvements in nonreactivity influence improvements in psychological symptoms. Results are consistent with previous findings of a robust, positive effect of MBSR on mindfulness and psychological symptoms, and show mixed support for findings supporting its immediate effects on physical health (Baer, 2003; Grossman et al., 2004). Results suggest that improvements in bodily pain and general health may be linked to mindfulness acquisition and that different factors may be influencing the beneficial effects of this intervention depending on the population. More future research into the “active ingredients” of MBSR and factors influencing its salutogenic effects in different populations is needed to improve insight into the psychological mechanisms underlying the health benefits of this intervention.
Malcoun, Emily. "Unpacking mindfulness: Psychological processes underlying the health benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program." PhD Diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2008.