Exploring the Relationship Between Subjective Ratings of Mindfulness Practices and Outcomes in Patients Participating in an MBSR Program
Keywords:Mindfulness Practices, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Objectives: The present study explored relationships between outcomes of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and the importance attributed by patients to the mindfulness practices taught.
Methods: Patients with chronic illnesses (46.8% breast cancer; N=126) completed questionnaires pertaining to medical symptoms, stress, and mindfulness, pre- and post-MBSR. At program completion, each patient rated the importance of the mindfulness practices employed. Stepwise linear regression analyses were run to investigate associations between changes in outcome variables and subjective ratings of practice importance.
Results: Increases in mindfulness were associated with high ratings of importance for sitting meditation (p LT 0.02) and homework manual (p LT 0.02; Adjusted R2 = 0.10). Decreases in medical symptoms were associated with high ratings for the body scan (p LT 0.01) and small group exercises (p LT 0.01; Adjusted R2 = 0.13). High ratings for the body scan were moderately, albeit significantly, correlated with decreases in perceived stress (p LT 0.01, Adjusted R2 = 0.05). A cluster analysis performed on all 10 of the ratings of practice importance showed that greater importance was associated with better outcomes for all three dependent variables (p LT 0.01). A qualitative examination of patients’ answers to open-ended questions revealed that incorporating mindfulness practices in daily life was a central component of the lifestyle changes experienced during the course of the program.
Conclusions: Understanding the mechanisms underlying MBSR’s effectiveness is important as this program becomes recognized as an empirically-supported intervention. These results suggest that specific types of practice (concentration vs. the body scan) are related to distinct outcomes (dispositional mindfulness vs. medical symptoms, respectively). Overall, awareness of the importance of practicing is connected to actual program outcomes.
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