A randomized controlled trial of the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on anxiety symptoms and systolic blood pressure in Chinese nursing students

Nurse Educ Today. 2013 Oct;33(10):1166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2012.11.014. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Background: Previous studies suggested that mindfulness meditation effectively reduced stress-related anxiety and depression symptoms, but no research has evaluated the efficacy of mindfulness meditation in nurses and nursing students in China.

Objectives: To evaluate the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on the anxiety and depression symptoms and autonomic nervous system activity in Chinese nursing students.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Setting: A medical university in Guangzhou, China.

Participants: One hundred and five nursing students were randomly approached by email and seventy-two responded. Sixty recruited students were randomized into meditation and control group (n=30 each) after screening and exclusion due to factors known to influence mood ratings and autonomic nervous system measures.

Methods: The meditation group performed mindfulness meditation 30 min daily for 7 consecutive days. The control group received no intervention except pre-post treatment measurements. The Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Depression Scale were administered to participants, and heart rate and blood pressure were measured. Pre- and post-treatment data were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance.

Results: Differences between pre- and post-treatment Self-Rating Anxiety Scale scores were significantly larger in the meditation group than in the control group, but no similar effect was observed for Self-Rating Depression Scale scores. Systolic blood pressure was reduced more after the intervention in the meditation group than in the control group, with an average reduction of 2.2 mmHg. A moderate level of anxiety was associated with the maximum meditation effect.

Conclusions: Brief mindfulness meditation was beneficial for Chinese nursing students in reducing anxiety symptoms and lowering systolic blood pressure. Individuals with moderate anxiety are most likely to benefit from a short-term mindfulness meditation program.

Keywords: Anxiety; Chinese nursing students; Intervention; Mental health; Mindfulness meditation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Hypertension / psychology
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult