Objectives: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been shown to improve mental health and reduce stress in a variety of adult populations. Here, we explore the effects of a school-based MBSR program for young urban males.
Participants and methods: In fall 2009, 7th and 8th graders at a small school for low-income urban boys were randomly assigned to 12-session programs of MBSR or health education (Healthy Topics-HT). Data were collected at baseline, post-program, and three-month follow-up on psychological functioning; sleep; and salivary cortisol, a physiologic measure of stress.
Results: Forty-one (22 MBSR and 19 HT) of the 42 eligible boys participated, of whom 95% were African American, with a mean age of 12.5 years. Following the programs, MBSR boys had less anxiety (p=0.01), less rumination (p=0.02), and showed a trend for less negative coping (p=0.06) than HT boys. Comparing baseline with post-program, cortisol levels increased during the academic terms for HT participants at a trend level (p=0.07) but remained constant for MBSR participants (p=0.33).
Conclusions: In this study, MBSR participants showed less anxiety, improved coping, and a possible attenuation of cortisol response to academic stress, when compared with HT participants. These results suggest that MBSR improves psychological functioning among urban male youth.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01650233.
Keywords: Adolescent; Coping; Meditation; Mindfulness; Mindfulness meditation; Mindfulness-based stress reduction; School-based; Self-regulation; Youth.
© 2013. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of American Health Foundation. All rights reserved.