School-based mindfulness instruction for urban male youth: a small randomized controlled trial

Prev Med. 2013 Dec;57(6):799-801. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.08.027. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


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: NCT01650233.

Keywords: Adolescent; Coping; Meditation; Mindfulness; Mindfulness meditation; Mindfulness-based stress reduction; School-based; Self-regulation; Youth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Male
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Urban Population


  • Hydrocortisone

Associated data