Background: We have previously shown that Goal Management Training+Mindfulness Meditation (GMT+MM) improves executive functions in polysubstance users enrolled in outpatient treatment. The aim of this study was to establish if GMT+MM has similar positive effects on executive functions in polysubstance users in residential treatment, and if executive functions' gains transfer to more ecologically valid goal-oriented tasks.
Methods: Thirty-two polysbustance users were randomly allocated to eight weeks of GMT+MM (n=16) or control, i.e., no-intervention (n=16); both groups received treatment as usual. Outcome measures included performance in laboratory tasks of basic and complex executive functions (i.e., basic: working memory and inhibition; complex: planning and self-regulation) and in an ecological task of goal-directed behavior (the Multiple Errands Test - contextualized version, MET-CV) measured post-interventions.
Results: Results showed that GMT+MM was superior to control in improving basic measures of working memory (Letter-number sequencing; F=4.516, p=0.049) and reflection impulsivity (Information Sampling Test; F=6.217, p=0.018), along with initial thinking times during planning (Zoo Map Test; F=8.143, p=0.008). In addition, GMT+MM was superior to control in improving performance in the MET-CV (task failures; F=8.485, p=0.007).
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that GMT+MM increases reflective processes and the achievement of goals in daily activities, furthermore ecological test can detects changes easily than laboratory tasks.
Keywords: Executive functions; Goal Management Training; Mindfulness Meditation; Multiple errands test; Polysbustance abuse.
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