Mindfulness in intimate relationships (MSIR)

Kocsis, A. & Newbury-Helps, J. (2016). Mindfulness in Sex Therapy and Intimate Relationships (MSIR): Clinical Protocol and Theory Development. Mindfulness, p. 1-10. First online 05 April 2016.

From the Abstract: Mindfulness has been used as an intervention for specific sexual dysfunctions in women; evidence has also accumulated for the role of mindfulness in treating the kinds of psychological difficulties which are associated with sexual dysfunction. This paper describes, within a clinical context, a qualitative approach to protocol and theory development for a mindfulness-based sex and intimate relationship (MSIR) programme as a generic adjunct to sex therapy. The aim was to adapt the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) group protocol to address diverse sexual and intimacy difficulties.

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Mindfulness interventions with cardiovascular disease patients (a meta-analysis)

Abbott, R. A., et al. (2014). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness based cognitive therapy in vascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Journal of Psychosomatic ResearchFull text. Accepted manuscript.

Objective. To determine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on psychological and physical outcomes for people with vascular disease.

Conclusion. Whilst populations with vascular disease appear to derive a range of psychological benefits from MBSR/MBCT intervention, the effects on physical parameters of disease are not yet established. More robust studies, with longer term follow-up, are required to ascertain full effectiveness of such intervention.

MBCR vs. group therapy with survivors of breast cancer

Carlson, L. E., et al. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based cancer recovery versus supportive expressive group therapy for distressed survivors of breast cancer (MINDSET). Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(25), 3119-3126. From the Abstract:

Purpose. To compare the efficacy of the following two empirically supported group interventions to help distressed survivors of breast cancer cope: mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR) and supportive-expressive group therapy (SET).

Patients and Methods. This multisite, randomized controlled trial assigned 271 distressed survivors of stage I to III breast cancer to MBCR, SET, or a 1-day stress management control condition. MBCR focused on training in mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga, whereas SET focused on emotional expression and group support. Both intervention groups included 18 hours of professional contact. Measures were collected at baseline and after intervention by assessors blind to study condition. Primary outcome measures were mood and diurnal salivary cortisol slopes. Secondary outcomes were stress symptoms, quality of life, and social support.

Results. Women in MBCR improved more over time on stress symptoms compared with women in both the SET and control groups. Per-protocol analyses showed greater improvements in the MBCR group in quality of life compared with control group and in social support compared with the SET group.

Conclusion. In the largest trial to date, MBCR was superior for improving a range of psychological outcomes for distressed survivors of breast cancer. Both SET and MBCR also resulted in more normative diurnal cortisol profiles than the control condition. The clinical implications of this finding require further investigation.

Group MBCT for older people with depression

Meeten, F., Whiting, S., & Williams, C. M. (2014). An Exploratory Study of Group Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Older People with Depression. Mindfulness, 1-8.

From the Abstract: The benefits of a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) group for older people with recurrent and/or chronic depression were explored using a measure of mood and well-being. Thirteen participants started the study and outcome measures were recorded at baseline, post-MBCT group and at a 6-month follow-up.

Although there was only a small sample size that had complete pre- and post-group data, improvements in depression and anxiety severity were noted and there was a significant improvement on ‘purpose in life’ and marginally significant improvement of ‘personal growth’, two of six domains on a measure of well-being. Participants were satisfied with the structure of the course but were less confident about committing to the daily practice after the group than pre-group.

At 6 months follow-up, none of the group had relapsed into a major depressive episode. Further research with larger sample sizes and a control group to control for nonspecific therapeutic group factors is recommended.

Importance of mindfulness in medical setting

Hassed, C. (2014). Mindfulness: why attention matters. Pathology, 46, S3. Abstract.

The importance of training attention is not a new idea and it may be the single most important life-skill we ever develop [as medical practitioners]. Attention training is an important aspect of what is called mindfulness which is a form of meditation, a way of living, and a foundation for new approaches to psychotherapy such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

Mindfulness-based approaches are receiving considerable interest from a number of disciplines on the back of an emerging evidence base. Particular areas of interest in the basic sciences include studies on neuroplasticity, genetics, and immunity. But it is the applications which are of particular importance in areas such as enhanced mental health, improved executive functioning, greater mental flexibility and memory, and improved physical health. In the medical setting it is also attracting interest because of its capacity to enhance clinical performance and reduce burnout.

Review of mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression

Edenfield, T. M., & Saeed, S. A. (2012). An update on mindfulness meditation as a self-help treatment for anxiety and depression. Psychology research and behavior management, 5, 131. Full text.

Abstract: In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments have increased in popularity. This is especially true for treatments that are related to exercise and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in the treatment of both mental and physical illness. MBIs, such as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which are derived from ancient Buddhist and Yoga philosophies, have become popular treatments in contemporary psychotherapy.

While there is growing evidence that supports the role of these interventions in relapse prevention, little is known about the role that MBIs play in the treatment of acute symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even less is known about the importance of specific components of MBIs (eg, mindfulness meditation [MM]) and the overall impact that these interventions have on the experience or expression of psychological distress. Moreover, few studies have rigorously evaluated the dose-response relationship that is required to effect positive symptom change and the mechanisms of change that are responsible for observed improvements.

This review will define meditation and mindfulness, discuss the relationship between stress and health and how MM relates to therapeutically engaging the relaxation response, and review the empirical findings that are related to the efficacy of MM in the treatment of depression and anxiety symptoms. Given the paucity of research that examines the applications of these treatments in clinical populations, the limitations of applying these findings to clinical samples will be mentioned.

A brief review of the issues related to the possible mechanisms of change and the dose-response relationship regarding MBIs, particularly MM, will be provided. Finally, limitations of the extant literature and future directions for further exploration of this topic will be offered.

Neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations

Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2010). A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations. Psychological medicine, 40(08), 1239-1252. Full text.

From the Abstract. Mindfulness meditation (MM) practices constitute an important group of meditative practices that have received growing attention. The aim of the present paper was to systematically review current evidence on the neurobiological changes and clinical benefits related to MM practice in psychiatric disorders, in physical illnesses and in healthy subjects.

Electroencephalographic (EEG) studies have revealed a significant increase in alpha and theta activity during meditation. Neuroimaging studies showed that MM practice activates the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and that long-term meditation practice is associated with an enhancement of cerebral areas related to attention.

From a clinical viewpoint, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has shown efficacy for many psychiatric and physical conditions and also for healthy subjects, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is mainly efficacious in reducing relapses of depression in patients with three or more episodes, Zen meditation significantly reduces blood pressure and Vipassana meditation shows efficacy in reducing alcohol and substance abuse in prisoners. However, given the low-quality designs of current studies it is difficult to establish whether clinical outcomes are due to specific or non-specific effects of MM.