A paper by Dr Peter Coventry, a CLAHRC GM Senior Research Fellow, has been published in Behavioral Medicine.
“A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study of the Acceptability and Effectiveness of a Brief Meditation and Mindfulness Intervention for People with Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease” examines how meditation and mindfulness affect people with diabetes and coronary heart disease. Mindfulness-based interventions have been hailed as effective in targeting negative cognitions such as worry and thought suppression, but their ability to improve long-term conditions has remained unexamined.
Mindfulness, as defined by the study, is a “heightened sense of present centred self-awareness that fosters non-judgmental observations of emotions, bodily states, and other sensations in the attentional field, leading to mental wellbeing.” The study used a sequential mixed methods approach that measured change in worry and thought suppression, and qualitatively explored acceptability, feasibility, and user experience with a focus group and in-depth interviews.
On the importance of mindfulness in improving the health of people with long-term conditions, lead author Dr Peter Coventry says: “Mindfulness-based interventions appear to be an acceptable and effective way for some people with long-term conditions to regain a sense of balance and self-determination in their lives by allowing them to accept their limitations and focus on what is achievable in the present rather than worrying about the past or what they might not be able to do in the future. In this sense it is a means to help people self-manage their illness and it has the potential to offer people long-term benefits if practiced regularly and built into their daily routines.”
Meditation and mindfulness skills led to improved sleep, greater relaxation, and more-accepting approaches to illness and illness experience. At the end of the six-week meditation course, worry and thought suppression were significantly reduced. Long-term effects were not studied. Overall, however, the data suggests that meditation and mindfulness may have been particularly useful during the early phase of long-term conditions or immediately after an acute event, when participants’ perceived that anxiety and worry were more potent health threats.
In addition to the paper itself, the study also features supplemental materials (an introduction to meditation for health and wellbeing, a guide to aid those participating in the meditation sessions and an overview of what some of the sessions entail, the “focus group topic guide”, and the “interview topic guide). With the evidence base in the topic of mindfulness still emerging, the authors felt it important to offer transparent and reproducible content about the intervention, so providing access to the mindfulness manual is essential to the process.