Online mindfulness-based intervention: feasibility and effectiveness

Cavanagh, K., et al. “A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Brief Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention in a Non-clinical Population: Replication and Extension.” Mindfulness, 2018, online, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0856-1. Full text

From the Abstract. Building on previous research, this study compared the effects of two brief, online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs; with and without formal meditation practice) and a no intervention control group in a non-clinical sample.

One hundred and fifty-five university staff and students were randomly allocated to a 2-week, self-guided, online MBI with or without mindfulness meditation practice, or a wait list control. Measures of mindfulness, perceived stress, perseverative thinking and anxiety/depression symptoms within were administered before and after the intervention period. Intention to treat analysis identified significant differences between groups on change over time for all measured outcomes.

… Change in perseverative thinking was found to mediate the relationship between condition and improvement on perceived stress and anxiety/depression symptom outcomes. Contrary to our hypotheses, no differences between the intervention conditions were found. Limitations of the study included reliance on self-report data, a relatively high attrition rate and absence of a longer-term follow-up.

This study provides evidence in support of the feasibility and effectiveness of brief, self-guided MBIs in a non-clinical population and suggests that reduced perseverative thinking may be a mechanism of change. Our findings provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a mindfulness psychoeducation condition, without an invitation to formal mindfulness meditation practice. Further research is needed to confirm and better understand these results and to test the potential of such interventions.