Mindfulness meditation for psychological distress
Dziok, Maria D.
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Many Americans use complementary and alternative medicine to treat psychological distress. However, few studies have examined the effectiveness of such treatments in a heterogeneous community. This study explored the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation as a secular, group treatment for psychological distress in an urban environment. Hypotheses were that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation would reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and vital exhaustion. A total of 109 volunteers were recruited in Bronx and Manhattan, New York, U.S. Of these, 52 participants completed some portion of baseline data and were used in analysis. Participants were not compensated for participation. They were randomly assigned to either an 8 week intervention or a wait-list control group. The intervention was modeled after the program developed by Kabat-Zinn and colleagues (1982); it consisted of a 1.5 hour class per week for 8 weeks and 45 minutes of homework daily. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Maastricht Questionnaire (MQ), the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Patient Health Questionnaire Nine Symptom Checklist (PHQ-9) was administered at baseline and follow-up to measure anxiety, vital exhaustion, and depression symptoms respectively. Results. Analyses confirmed that the intervention reduced trait anxiety, vital exhaustion (MQ), and PHQ-9 depression symptoms (all p values < .05). Reductions in state anxiety and depression as measured by the CES-D were less clear. The percentage of participants that attended 6 or more class session was 19.2%. Results indicate that a participant's ethnicity and instructor influences outcome variable change. Conclusion. Despite a small sample size and poor program adherence, there is evidence to suggest that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation is an effective means of reducing symptoms of psychological distress in a demographically and medically heterogeneous urban community. More research needs to explore mindfulness meditation as a regulator of HPA axis function.