Background: Despite solid basic science research supporting meditation's physiologic benefits, meditation remains a marginalized practice for many Westerners; observational and descriptive studies indicate a spectrum of barriers to meditation practice.
Objective: The aim of this study was to determine differences in barriers to meditation by gender and age.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey study of 150 family caregivers to adults with cancer visiting an outpatient chemotherapy center in Connecticut was conducted. The primary outcome was the Determinants of Meditation Practice Inventory. Explanatory variables included demographic characteristics, Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, Big Five Inventory, and Caregiver Reaction Assessment.
Results: Participants included 98 women and 52 men. Age range was 18-84 years (M = 52.3 years). The highest frequency of barriers for both genders related to misconceptions about meditation. The total number of barriers to meditation did not significantly vary by gender (p = .10) nor age (p = .27). After adjusting for personality trait, reactions to caregiving, and emotional distress, gender (adjusted β = 0.81, SE = 1.70, p = .63) and age (adjusted β = 0.02, SE = 0.05, p = .67) still did not predict the number of barriers to meditation. Backward elimination in model building showed that personality trait and reactions to caregiving account for 32% of the variability in barriers.
Discussion: The total number of barriers to meditation was examined, and a difference was not found by age or gender. It is possible that differences by age and gender exist at the item level of evaluation but were not evident when evaluating total scores. Further study is needed with samples large enough to have statistical power for item-level analysis.