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No sustained attention differences in a longitudinal randomized trial comparing mindfulness based stress reduction versus active control.

MacCoon DG, MacLean KA, Davidson RJ, Saron CD, Lutz A - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Previous studies have found that meditation training over several months is associated with improvements in cognitive control and attention.We predicted that MBSR would improve visual discrimination ability and sustained attention over time on the CPT compared to HEP, with more home practice associated with greater improvements.Our hypotheses were not confirmed but we did find some evidence for improved visual discrimination similar to effects in partial replication of other research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Waisman Center for Brain Imaging and Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America; Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a secular form of meditation training. The vast majority of the extant literature investigating the health effects of mindfulness interventions relies on wait-list control comparisons. Previous studies have found that meditation training over several months is associated with improvements in cognitive control and attention.

Methodology/principal findings: We used a visual continuous performance task (CPT) to test the effects of eight weeks of mindfulness training on sustained attention by comparing MBSR to the Health Enhancement Program (HEP), a structurally equivalent, active control condition in a randomized, longitudinal design (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01301105) focusing on a non-clinical population typical of MBSR participants. Researchers were blind to group assignment. 63 community participants were randomized to either MBSR (n = 31) or HEP (n = 32). CPT analyses were conducted on 29 MBSR participants and 25 HEP participants. We predicted that MBSR would improve visual discrimination ability and sustained attention over time on the CPT compared to HEP, with more home practice associated with greater improvements. Our hypotheses were not confirmed but we did find some evidence for improved visual discrimination similar to effects in partial replication of other research. Our study had sufficient power to demonstrate that intervention groups do not differ in their improvement over time in sustained attention performance. One of our primary predictions concerning the effects of intervention on attentional fatigue was significant but not interpretable.

Conclusions: Attentional sensitivity is not affected by mindfulness practice as taught in MBSR, but it is unclear whether mindfulness might positively affect another aspect of attention, vigilance. These results also highlight the relevant procedural modifications required by future research to correctly investigate the role of sustained attention in similar samples.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01301105.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

CONSORT diagram detailing retention rates by study phase and reasons for dropouts.
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pone-0097551-g001: CONSORT diagram detailing retention rates by study phase and reasons for dropouts.

Mentions: Participants were recruited as part of a larger study comparing MBSR and HEP (see [5] for details). In brief, participants were recruited for a study on “health and well-being” and offered $475 plus a free “8 week Health Enhancement Program” or a free “8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Class”. After telephone screening, 94 people attended one of four information sessions in which the study was described by project scientists, the classes were described by instructors, written consent was obtained, and lab visits were scheduled. Participants were organized into two cohorts based on schedules and class size restrictions, and members of each cohort were randomized to intervention by a logistical staff member through a random-number generator at the time of assignment, and underwent identical procedures separated by approximately 4 weeks. Our sample size was comparable to other MBSR studies and power analyses based on effect sizes reported in the literature. Participants were masked to research questions and researchers were masked to intervention assignment throughout data collection. As part of our effort to maximize the potential effectiveness of both interventions, our inclusion/exclusion criteria (see Table 1) included elements important for both MBSR and HEP. For example, just as we required inexperience in meditation practice prior to participating in MBSR, we required relative inexperience in HEP components as well (e.g., excluding participants with “Engagement in moderate sport and recreational activities more than 5 times a week.”). Data were collected and analyzed at UW-Madison. All analyses reported are based on participants who started and completed their intervention. There was no significant difference in drop-out between MBSR (1 person dropped, 3.2%) and HEP [3 people dropped, 9.7%; F(1,60) = 1.05, n.s.]. Reasons for dropping, discussions with participants, and dates of drop suggest random life events as the cause (see Figure 1; see Table 2 for participant demographic information).


No sustained attention differences in a longitudinal randomized trial comparing mindfulness based stress reduction versus active control.

MacCoon DG, MacLean KA, Davidson RJ, Saron CD, Lutz A - PLoS ONE (2014)

CONSORT diagram detailing retention rates by study phase and reasons for dropouts.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4067292&req=5

pone-0097551-g001: CONSORT diagram detailing retention rates by study phase and reasons for dropouts.
Mentions: Participants were recruited as part of a larger study comparing MBSR and HEP (see [5] for details). In brief, participants were recruited for a study on “health and well-being” and offered $475 plus a free “8 week Health Enhancement Program” or a free “8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Class”. After telephone screening, 94 people attended one of four information sessions in which the study was described by project scientists, the classes were described by instructors, written consent was obtained, and lab visits were scheduled. Participants were organized into two cohorts based on schedules and class size restrictions, and members of each cohort were randomized to intervention by a logistical staff member through a random-number generator at the time of assignment, and underwent identical procedures separated by approximately 4 weeks. Our sample size was comparable to other MBSR studies and power analyses based on effect sizes reported in the literature. Participants were masked to research questions and researchers were masked to intervention assignment throughout data collection. As part of our effort to maximize the potential effectiveness of both interventions, our inclusion/exclusion criteria (see Table 1) included elements important for both MBSR and HEP. For example, just as we required inexperience in meditation practice prior to participating in MBSR, we required relative inexperience in HEP components as well (e.g., excluding participants with “Engagement in moderate sport and recreational activities more than 5 times a week.”). Data were collected and analyzed at UW-Madison. All analyses reported are based on participants who started and completed their intervention. There was no significant difference in drop-out between MBSR (1 person dropped, 3.2%) and HEP [3 people dropped, 9.7%; F(1,60) = 1.05, n.s.]. Reasons for dropping, discussions with participants, and dates of drop suggest random life events as the cause (see Figure 1; see Table 2 for participant demographic information).

Bottom Line: Previous studies have found that meditation training over several months is associated with improvements in cognitive control and attention.We predicted that MBSR would improve visual discrimination ability and sustained attention over time on the CPT compared to HEP, with more home practice associated with greater improvements.Our hypotheses were not confirmed but we did find some evidence for improved visual discrimination similar to effects in partial replication of other research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Waisman Center for Brain Imaging and Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America; Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a secular form of meditation training. The vast majority of the extant literature investigating the health effects of mindfulness interventions relies on wait-list control comparisons. Previous studies have found that meditation training over several months is associated with improvements in cognitive control and attention.

Methodology/principal findings: We used a visual continuous performance task (CPT) to test the effects of eight weeks of mindfulness training on sustained attention by comparing MBSR to the Health Enhancement Program (HEP), a structurally equivalent, active control condition in a randomized, longitudinal design (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01301105) focusing on a non-clinical population typical of MBSR participants. Researchers were blind to group assignment. 63 community participants were randomized to either MBSR (n = 31) or HEP (n = 32). CPT analyses were conducted on 29 MBSR participants and 25 HEP participants. We predicted that MBSR would improve visual discrimination ability and sustained attention over time on the CPT compared to HEP, with more home practice associated with greater improvements. Our hypotheses were not confirmed but we did find some evidence for improved visual discrimination similar to effects in partial replication of other research. Our study had sufficient power to demonstrate that intervention groups do not differ in their improvement over time in sustained attention performance. One of our primary predictions concerning the effects of intervention on attentional fatigue was significant but not interpretable.

Conclusions: Attentional sensitivity is not affected by mindfulness practice as taught in MBSR, but it is unclear whether mindfulness might positively affect another aspect of attention, vigilance. These results also highlight the relevant procedural modifications required by future research to correctly investigate the role of sustained attention in similar samples.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01301105.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus