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The chronic exposure to stress of living with less money than one needs affects people’s well-being. Studies show that mental un-well-being is associated with socioeconomic inequalities and that poverty-related stress is directly related to symptoms of anxiety and depression. We offered a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) between September 2011 and September 2012 to a sample of low-income urban adults in Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium. The impact on symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression was examined together with the effects on cognitive vulnerability processes of cognitive reactivity and overgeneralization and on the development of mindfulness skills. Results suggest that the MBI significantly reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and cognitive reactivity and overgeneralization and significantly improved mindfulness skills. Greater improvement in mindfulness skills caused by MBIs might result in greater reduction in both symptoms and cognitive vulnerabilities. These findings provide promising evidence of the effectiveness of MBIs to promote economically disadvantaged people’s well-being. The results are consistent with previous studies that have examined the effectiveness of MBIs in other populations and show that a MBI is feasible in social welfare centers that serve low-income adults.
An essential step to wide-scale dissemination is to investigate moderators of intervention effectiveness. This study examined moderators of the effects of a universal school-based mindfulness program on adolescents’ depressive symptoms. Based on theory and previous research, we identified the following potential moderators: (1) severity of symptoms of depression at baseline, (2) gender, (3) age, and (4) school track. The study uses a pooled dataset from two consecutive randomized controlled trials in adolescents (13–18 years) in secondary schools in Belgium. Results on effectiveness based on the first trial were published in this journal (Raes et al. 2014). A second consecutive trial was conducted to obtain a more equal distribution between school tracks and to enlarge power, yielding a total of 605 students from nine schools. In each school, parallel classes were randomized to the mindfulness condition or usual curriculum control condition. Data were collected 1 week before and 1 week after delivery of the training and at 6-month follow-up. Moderation was tested longitudinally with multilevel models across the three repeated measures and across condition. We found no moderation effects of gender, age, and school track. Six months after the training, we found a marginally significant moderation effect for severity of symptoms of depression at baseline with greater decrease in symptoms for students with high levels of depression. The general absence of differential intervention effects for gender, age, and school track supports the broad scope of the school-based mindfulness group intervention.