Reducing blood pressure and stress

Ponte, P., et al. (2018). Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation In Reducing Blood Pressure And Stress In Patients With Arterial Hypertension. Journal of Hypertension36, e294-e295.

From the Abstract. The objective of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate the benefits of mindfulness meditation in controlling ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and the impact of the intervention on anxiety, stress and depression levels in a Mediterranean population.

Twenty-four and 18 patients [n = 42; mean age 56.5 (7.7) years; similar men and women proportions] with high-normal BP or grade I hypertension were enrolled to an intervention and a control group, respectively.

For 2 h/week over 8 weeks, the intervention group received mindfulness training and the control group attended health education talks. The patients attended pre-intervention, week 4, week 8 and week 20 follow-up visits. . . .

Improvements were observed in the intervention group in terms of being less judgemental, more accepting and less depressed. In conclusion, by week 8 the mindfulness group had lower clinically measured SBP, 24-h SBP, at-rest SBP and diastolic BP values.


Meditation and PTSD

Hilton, L., et al. (2017). Meditation for posttraumatic stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy9(4), 453. From the Abstract.

Objective: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that synthesized evidence from randomized controlled trials of meditation interventions to provide estimates of their efficacy and safety in treating adults diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Results: In total, 10 trials on meditation interventions for PTSD with 643 participants met inclusion criteria. Across interventions, adjunctive meditation interventions of mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, and the mantram repetition program improve PTSD and depression symptoms compared with control groups, but the findings are based on low and moderate quality of evidence.

Effects were positive but not statistically significant for quality of life and anxiety, and no studies addressed functional status. The variety of meditation intervention types, the short follow-up times, and the quality of studies limited analyses.

Conclusions: Meditation appears to be effective for PTSD and depression symptoms, but in order to increase confidence in findings, more high-quality studies are needed on meditation as adjunctive treatment with PTSD-diagnosed participant samples large enough to detect statistical differences in outcomes.

Mindfulness-based therapy for dyspnea

Mularski, R. A., et al. (2009). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based therapy for dyspnea in chronic obstructive lung disease. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine15(10), 1083-1090, DOI: 10.1089=acm.2009.0037. Full text.

From the Abstract. The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of a mindfulness-based breathing therapy on improving symptoms and health-related quality of life in those with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

This trial found no measurable improvements in patients with COPD receiving a mindfulness-based breathing therapy compared to a support group, suggesting that this intervention is unlikely to be an important therapeutic option for those with moderate-to-severe COPD.

The effect of diaphragmatic breathing

Ma, X., et al. (2017). The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in psychology, no. 8, pp. 874, Full text.

From the Abstract. A growing number of empirical studies have revealed that diaphragmatic breathing may trigger body relaxation responses and benefit both physical and mental health. However, the specific benefits of diaphragmatic breathing on mental health remain largely unknown.

The present study aimed to investigate the effect of diaphragmatic breathing on cognition, affect, and cortisol responses to stress. Forty participants were randomly assigned to either a breathing intervention group (BIG) or a control group (CG). The BIG received intensive training for 20 sessions, implemented over 8 weeks, employing a real-time feedback device, and an average respiratory rate of 4 breaths/min, while the CG did not receive this treatment. . . . 

The findings suggested that the BIG showed a significant decrease in negative affect after intervention, compared to baseline.  . . .  In conclusion, diaphragmatic breathing could improve sustained attention, affect, and cortisol levels.

Reducing burnout in police officers

Trombka, Marcelo, et al., Study protocol of a multicenter randomized controlled trial of mindfulness training to reduce burnout and promote quality of life in police officers. BMC Psychiatry, 2018, vol. 18. no. 151, Full text.

Background. Police officers experience a high degree of chronic stress. Policing ranks among the highest professions in terms of disease and accident rates. Mental health is particularly impacted, evidenced by elevated rates of burnout, anxiety and depression, and poorer quality of life than the general public.

Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, burnout and promote quality of life in a variety of settings, although its efficacy in this context has yet to be systematically evaluated. Therefore, this trial will investigate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention versus a waitlist control in improving quality of life and reducing negative mental health symptoms in police officers.

Cognitively-Based Compassion Training in breast cancer survivors

Gonzalez-Hernandez, E., et al. (2018). Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Clinical Trial Study. Integrative cancer therapies, 1534735418772095. Online 21 Apr 2018. Full text.

From the Abstract. Context. Breast cancer (BC) requires a significant psychological adaptation once treatment is finished. There is growing evidence of how compassion training enhances psychological and physical well-being, however, there are very few studies analyzing the efficacy of compassion-based Interventions on BC survivors.

Objective. To study the efficacy of the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) protocol in a BC survivor sample on quality of life, psychological well-being, fear of cancer recurrence, self-compassion, and compassion domains and mindfulness facets. Furthermore, enrollment, adherence, and satisfaction with the intervention were also analyzed. . . .

Results. Accrual of eligible participants was high (77%), and the drop-out rate was 16%. Attendance to CBCT sessions was high and practice off sessions exceeded expectations). CBCT was effective in diminishing stress caused by FCR, fostering self-kindness and common humanity, and increasing overall self-compassion scores, mindful observation, and acting with awareness skillsets.

Conclusion. CBCT could be considered a promising and potentially useful intervention to diminish stress caused by FCR and enhance self-kindness, common humanity,

Self-management of Stage 2 Parkinson’s disease

Vandenberg, Brooke, E., et al. Mindfulness-based lifestyle programs for the self-management of Parkinson’s disease in Australia, Health Promotion International

Abstract. Despite emerging evidence suggesting positive outcomes of mindfulness training for the self-management of other neuro-degenerative diseases, limited research has explored its effect on the self-management of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

We aimed to characterize the experiences of individuals participating in a facilitated, group mindfulness-based lifestyle program for community living adults with Stage 2 PD and explore how the program influenced beliefs about self-management of their disease.

Our longitudinal qualitative study was embedded within a randomized controlled trial exploring the impact of a 6-week mindfulness-based lifestyle program on patient-reported function. The study was set in Melbourne, Australia in 2012–2013. We conducted semi-structured interviews with participants before, immediately after, and 6 months following participation in the program. Sixteen participants were interviewed prior to commencing the program. Of these, 12 were interviewed shortly after its conclusion, and 9 interviewed at 6 months.

Prior to the program, participants felt a lack of control over their illness. A desire for control and a need for alternative tools for managing the progression of PD motivated many to engage with the program. Following the program, where participants experienced an increase in mindfulness, many became more accepting of disease progression and reported improved social relationships and self-confidence in managing their disease.

Mindfulness-based lifestyle programs have the potential for increasing both participants’ sense of control over their reactions to disease symptoms as well as social connectedness. Community-based mindfulness training may provide participants with tools for self-managing a number of the consequences of Stage 2 PD.