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BACKGROUND: Mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment, non-judgmentally, without commentary or decision-making. We report results of a pilot study designed to test the feasibility of using Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) (with minor modifications) as a smoking intervention. METHODS: MBSR instructors provided instructions in mindfulness in eight weekly group sessions. Subjects attempted smoking cessation during week seven without pharmacotherapy. Smoking abstinence was tested six weeks after the smoking quit day with carbon monoxide breath test and 7-day smoking calendars. Questionnaires were administered to evaluate changes in stress and affective distress. RESULTS: 18 subjects enrolled in the intervention with an average smoking history of 19.9 cigarettes per day for 26.4 years. At the 6-week post-quit visit, 10 of 18 subjects (56%) achieved biologically confirmed 7-day point-prevalent smoking abstinence. Compliance with meditation was positively associated with smoking abstinence and decreases in stress and affective distress. DISCUSSIONS and CONCLUSIONS The results of this study suggest that mindfulness training may show promise for smoking cessation and warrants additional study in a larger comparative trial.
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Most of the extant literature investigating the health effects of mindfulness interventions relies on wait-list control comparisons. The current article specifies and validates an active control condition, the Health Enhancement Program (HEP), thus providing the foundation necessary for rigorous investigations of the relative efficacy of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and for testing mindfulness as an active ingredient. 63 participants were randomized to either MBSR (n = 31) or HEP (n = 32). Compared to HEP, MBSR led to reductions in thermal pain ratings in the mindfulness- but not the HEP-related instruction condition (η(2) = .18). There were significant improvements over time for general distress (η(2) = .09), anxiety (η(2) = .08), hostility (η(2) = .07), and medical symptoms (η(2) = .14), but no effects of intervention. Practice was not related to change. HEP is an active control condition for MBSR while remaining inert to mindfulness. These claims are supported by results from a pain task. Participant-reported outcomes (PROs) replicate previous improvements to well-being in MBSR, but indicate that MBSR is no more effective than a rigorous active control in improving these indices. These results emphasize the importance of using an active control condition like HEP in studies evaluating the effectiveness of MBSR.
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