Effectiveness of Online Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Improving Mental Health: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials

Clin Psychol Rev. 2016 Apr;45:102-14. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.03.009. Epub 2016 Apr 1.

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly being delivered through the Internet. Whereas numerous meta-analyses have investigated the effectiveness of face-to-face MBIs in the context of mental health and well-being, thus far a quantitative synthesis of the effectiveness of online MBIs is lacking. The aim of this meta-analysis was to estimate the overall effects of online MBIs on mental health. Fifteen randomised controlled trials were included in this study. A random effects model was used to compute pre-post between-group effect sizes, and the study quality of each of the included trials was rated. Results showed that online MBIs have a small but significant beneficial impact on depression (g=0.29), anxiety (g=0.22), well-being (g=0.23) and mindfulness (g=0.32). The largest effect was found for stress, with a moderate effect size (g=0.51). For stress and mindfulness, exploratory subgroup analyses demonstrated significantly higher effect sizes for guided online MBIs than for unguided online MBIs. In addition, meta-regression analysis showed that effect sizes for stress were significantly moderated by the number of intervention sessions. Effect sizes, however, were not significantly related to study quality. The findings indicate that online MBIs have potential to contribute to improving mental health outcomes, particularly stress. Limitations, directions for future research and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: Acceptance; Intervention; Mental health; Meta-analysis; Mindfulness; Online.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome