Well-being of parents of children with autism and related disabilities

Jones, L., et al. (2018). A mindfulness parent well-being course: Evaluation of outcomes for parents of children with autism and related disabilities recruited through special schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education33(1), 16-30.

Abstract. Parents of children with intellectual disabilities and/or autism have been shown to experience higher levels of distress than other parents. Despite such data having been available for several decades, the evidence base for psychological interventions to support parental well-being is small. Recent data suggest that both mindfulness and acceptance processes are associated with decreased psychological distress for parents of children with intellectual disability and/or autism. In addition, some controlled evaluations of mindfulness-based interventions for these parents have resulted in positive outcomes for mothers in particular.

In the present study 18 mothers and 3 fathers were recruited via special schools who then attended a Mindfulness Based Well-Being for Parents (MBW-P) group over eight weeks. Parents completed questionnaire measures before and at the end of the course. Statistical analysis showed significant reported increases in mindfulness and self-compassion, and reduced general stress. Parents also reported reductions in anxiety and depression, although these changes were not statistically significant.

No significant reductions in their child’s behaviour problems or increases in the child’s prosocial behaviour were found. Parents also reported high levels of satisfaction with the course. These preliminary data suggest that further research studies testing the effectiveness of the MBW-P course are warranted.

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Improving psychological well-being for adults with advanced cancer

Zimmermann, Fernanda F., et al. (2017). “The acceptability and potential benefits of mindfulness-based interventions in improving psychological well-being for adults with advanced cancer: A systematic review. “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.” Online Dec 12, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.12.014.

From the Abstract:

The acceptability and potential benefits of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for the psychological well-being of people with advanced cancers were described, evaluated and synthesized.

The number of studies identified was notably small, MBIs showed benefits and acceptability, but logistical problems and limitations were reported.

Some adaptations to the MBIs must be considered given the target population’s needs, to allow patients to participate in this kind of treatment.

The ethical and methodological obstacles identified provide insights of what kind of MBIs may appropriately address this population needs.

A mindful approach to diabetes self-management

DiNardo, Monica, et al. “A Mindful Approach to Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support for Veterans.” The Diabetes Educator, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 608-20. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145721717738019

From the Abstract. The study used a single-group pretest-posttest repeated-measures design. The 90-minute Mind-STRIDE training, adapted from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), was provided as the final component of a half-day diabetes self-management education class at a Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient diabetes clinic.

Following initial training, participants were asked to practice mindfulness at home for 10 minutes each day during the 3-month study. Study recruitment and retention were calculated as rates. Veteran and diabetes educator satisfaction were assessed by rating scales and open-ended comments. Psychosocial-behavioral and metabolic outcomes were assessed at baseline and 3 months after initial training.

Overall, participants and diabetes educators were highly satisfied with the Mind-STRIDE intervention. Significant improvements were found in diabetes distress, diabetes self-efficacy, [and] diabetes self-management behaviors.

Results suggest feasibility, satisfaction, and positive preliminary effects. Efficacy testing by randomized controlled trial with analysis of covariance structures is warranted.

Mindfulness meditation and the perception of beauty

Langer, Alvaro I., Carlos Schmidt, and Edwin Kroghet. „Mindfulness Meditation and the Perception of Beauty: Implications for an Ecological Well-Being.” In: Perception of Beauty, Martha Peaslee Levine, ed., InTechOpen, 2017, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.69529. Full access to this chapter.

Abstract. Meditation is a first-person method for contemplating ourselves and the world, with more than 2500 years of history, rooted in the philosophical and contemplative traditions of the east. The present chapter aims to explore this worldview in order to demonstrate its relevance to our capacity for the appreciation of beauty. To this end, the aesthetic experience, the contemplative experience and their relationship with the practice of mindfulness are analysed.

We suggest that the contemplative meditative experience bestows a state of consciousness and acceptance of life which places the practitioner in a progressive encounter with a self-concept that begins to detach from a static sense of the self and from the categories that define it, so that it may be experienced as an ongoing mental event, removed from cultural ideals of beauty or positivity.

The result of this de-identification from the static self is a greater degree of psychological flexibility and a more genuine way of seeing the world, leading to a new perception of the self that is connected to an experience of freedom, and contributes to one’s own well-being, as well as to that of others and of the environment.

Children learn to cultivate peace and calm within

Veilleux, Colleen M. The Implementation of a Silence Area into the Environment and How it Impacts the Social-Emotional Behavior of the Students. Diss. University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 2017. Full text.

Abstract. Modern children are plagued with struggles that were unheard of decades ago. Due to busy lifestyles and limitless use of technology, the social-emotional and physical well-being of children is at stake. Children today have increased attention problems, anxiety, and a lack of self-regulation and self-awareness. Mindfulness is the practice of sitting still and silent, focusing attention inward. Mindful practices cultivate peace and calm within the child, better equipping him/her to handle the stressors of life.

The implementation of a silence area into a Montessori environment facilitates these practices by providing children with a space devoted to being still and silent. This action research study surrounds the implementation of a silence area as a means to benefit the social-emotional behavior of students. The students’ use of the area was recorded each day. Behavior data was gathered to observe the impact the silence area had on the students. The findings showed a decrease in the amount of behavior that required redirection. Parent surveys were also conducted to gather data and observations of student behavior at home.

Those survey results suggested an increase in self-awareness and self-regulation as observed by the parents. Overall, the results of this study have shown that regular use of the silence area not only provides students with moments of solitude, but also benefits their social-emotional development through gains of self-regulation and self-awareness. Although more research on the topic of “mindfulness and children” is emerging, research concurs with these findings and their promising effects.

Online mindfulness intervention to decrease caregiver burden

Tkatch, R., et al. “A Pilot Online Mindfulness Intervention to Decrease Caregiver Burden and Improve Psychological Well-Being.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2017, 2156587217737204. Full text.

Abstract: Interventions to reduce caregiver burden are of great interest as the number of informal family caregivers continues to grow. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an online mindfulness meditation intervention for community-dwelling older adult caregivers and to evaluate its impact on quality of life, caregiver burden, and psychological well-being. A total of 40 caregivers were recruited from 2 community center support groups to participate in an 8-week online mindfulness intervention.

Pre and post surveys were administered. Retention rates were high with 55% completing the post surveys and attending at least 5 out of 8 sessions. Matched pairs t test indicated that the intervention reduced caregiver burden, perceived stress, anxiety, and loneliness and improved mental well-being.

Online interventions offer flexibility for caregivers regardless of their responsibilities. Future research should expand this opportunity and explore the scalability of online mindfulness interventions.

A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation

Van Dam, Nicholas T., et al. “Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2017. Full text online.

Abstract. During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being, widely implemented educational practice, and “key to building more resilient soldiers.” Yet the mindfulness movement and empirical evidence supporting it have not gone without criticism. Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed.

Addressing such concerns, the present article discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness. For doing so, the authors draw on their diverse areas of expertise to review the present state of mindfulness research, comprehensively summarizing what we do and do not know, while providing a prescriptive agenda for contemplative science, with a particular focus on assessment, mindfulness training, possible adverse effects, and intersection with brain imaging.

Our goals are to inform interested scientists, the news media, and the public, to minimize harm, curb poor research practices, and staunch the flow of misinformation about the benefits, costs, and future prospects of mindfulness meditation.