Evaluation of a mindfulness-based intervention program to decrease blood pressure in low-income African-American older adults

J Urban Health. 2012 Apr;89(2):308-16. doi: 10.1007/s11524-011-9654-6.


Hypertension affects a large proportion of urban African-American older adults.While there have been great strides in drug development, many older adults do not have access to such medicines or do not take them. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)has been shown to decrease blood pressure in some populations. This has not been tested in low-income, urban African-American older adults. Therefore, the primary purpose of this pilot study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based program for low income, minority older adults provided in residence. The secondary purpose was to learn if the mindfulness-based program produced differences in blood pressure between the intervention and control groups. Participants were at least 62 years old and residents of a low-income senior residence. All participants were African-American, and one was male.Twenty participants were randomized to the mindfulness-based intervention or a social support control group of the same duration and dose. Blood pressure was measured with the Omron automatic blood pressure machine at baseline and at the end of the 8-week intervention. A multivariate regression analysis was performed on the difference in scores between baseline and post-intervention blood pressure measurements, controlling for age,education, smoking status, and anti-hypertensive medication use. Effect sizes were calculated to quantify the magnitude of the relationship between participation in the mindfulness-based intervention and the outcome variable, blood pressure. Attendance remained 980%in all 8 weeks of both the intervention and the control groups. The average systolic blood pressure decreased for both groups post-intervention. Individuals in the intervention group exhibited a 21.92-mmHg lower systolic blood pressure compared to the social support control group post-intervention and this value was statistically significant(p=0.020). The average diastolic blood pressure decreased in the intervention group postintervention,but increased in the social support group. Individuals in the intervention group exhibited a 16.70-mmHg lower diastolic blood pressure compared to the social support group post-intervention, and this value was statistically significant (p=0.003).Older adults are at a time in life when a reflective, stationary intervention, delivered in residence, could be an appealing mechanism to improve blood pressure. Given our preliminary results, larger trials in this hypertensive study population are warranted.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diet therapy
  • Hypertension / psychology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychophysiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Care
  • Social Support