Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention on psychological well-being and quality of life: is increased mindfulness indeed the mechanism?

Ann Behav Med. 2008 Jun;35(3):331-40. doi: 10.1007/s12160-008-9030-2. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Background: Although several studies have reported positive effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention on psychological well-being, it is not known whether these effects are attributable to a change in mindfulness.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to compare the effects of MBSR to a waiting-list control condition in a randomized controlled trial while examining potentially mediating effects of mindfulness.

Methods: Forty women and 20 men from the community with symptoms of distress (mean age 43.6 years, SD = 10.1) were randomized into a group receiving MBSR or a waiting-list control group. Before and after the intervention period, questionnaires were completed on psychological well-being, quality of life, and mindfulness.

Results: Repeated measures multiple analysis of variance (MANCOVAs) showed that, compared with the control group, the intervention resulted in significantly stronger reductions of perceived stress (p = 0.016) and vital exhaustion (p = 0.001) and stronger elevations of positive affect (p = 0.006), quality of life (p = .009), as well as mindfulness (p = 0.001). When mindfulness was included as a covariate in the MANCOVA, the group effects on perceived stress and quality of life were reduced to nonsignificance.

Conclusion: Increased mindfulness may, at least partially, mediate the positive effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Awareness
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome