Conceptual and methodological issues in research on mindfulness and meditation

Am Psychol. 2015 Oct;70(7):581-92. doi: 10.1037/a0039512.


Both basic science and clinical research on mindfulness, meditation, and related constructs have dramatically increased in recent years. However, interpretation of these research results has been challenging. The present article addresses unique conceptual and methodological problems posed by research in this area. Included among the key topics is the role of first-person experience and how it can be best studied, the challenges posed by intervention research designs in which true double-blinding is not possible, the nature of control and comparison conditions for research that includes mindfulness or other meditation-based interventions, issues in the adequate description of mindfulness and related trainings and interventions, the question of how mindfulness can be measured, questions regarding what can and cannot be inferred from self-report measures, and considerations regarding the structure of study design and data analyses. Most of these topics are germane to both basic and clinical research studies and have important bearing on the future scientific understanding of mindfulness and meditation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Meditation / psychology
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Research Design*