Researchers from Johns Hopkins University performed a meta-analysis to determine the effects of meditation practice in improving stress related outcomes (anxiety, depression, stress/distress, positive mood, mental health-related quality of life, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, pain, and weight) in various adult clinical populations.
They identified randomized clinical trials with active controls for placebo effects from MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, PsycArticles, Scopus, CINAHL, AMED, the Cochrane Library, and hand searches.
Strength of evidence was graded using 4 domains (risk of bias, precision, directness, and consistency) and magnitude and direction of effect were determined by calculating the relative difference between groups in the change from baseline.
Researchers from UCLA conducted a randomized controlled trial of a web-based, self-guided, multimedia stress management and resilience training program (SMART-OP) with a stressed but healthy sample.
Sixty-six participants were randomized to SMART-OP or an attention control (AC) group that received marketed videos and published material on stress management.
Participants were evaluated on self-report measures and the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Analyses were based on study completers (N = 59).
The SMART-OP group reported significantly less stress, more perceived
control over stress, and rated SMART-OP as significantly more useful
than the attention control arm. In addition, the SMART-OP group showed
greater within-task α-amylase recovery at post-assessment.
Researchers from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, compared the effectiveness of 2 evidence-based group interventions to help stressed breast cancer survivors cope - mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR) and classic, supportive-expressive group therapy (SET).
This multisite, randomized controlled trial assigned 271 distressed survivors of stage I - III breast cancer to one of the two group interventions or a 1-day stress management control condition.
MBCR focused on training in mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga, whereas SET focused on emotional expression and group support. Both intervention groups included 18 hours of professional contact.
Measures were collected at baseline and post-intervention by blinded assessors. Primary outcome measures were mood and diurnal salivary cortisol slopes. Secondary outcomes were stress symptoms, quality of life and social support.
Researchers from the School of Psychology, University of Sussex in Falmer, UK, explored in this feasibility study whether a brief, online, mindfulness-based intervention could increase mindfulness and reduce perceived stress and anxiety/depression symptoms within a student population.
One hundred and four students were randomly assigned to either immediately start a two-week, self- guided online, mindfulness-based intervention or to a wait-list control.
Measures of mindfulness, perceived stress and anxiety/depression were taken, before and after the intervention period.
Researchers from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi assessed the efficacy of a brief yoga-based intervention on lowering stress and reducing inflammation in patients with chronic inflammatory disease in a preliminary study with a pre-post design.
Subjects were patients with chronic inflammatory diseases and others who suffered from being overweight or obese.
The program consisted of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), stress management, group discussions, lectures, and individualized coaching.
Outcomes were changes from day 0 to day 10 in plasma cortisol and
β-endorphin to measure reductions in stress: and interleukin [IL]-6 and
tumor necrosis factor [TNF] - to measure reductions in inflammation.
Researchers from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC, conducted a randomized controlled pilot comparing the viability of two mind-body workplace stress reduction programs - one therapeutic yoga-based and the other mindfulness-based - in order to set the stage for larger cost-effectiveness trials. Additionally, 2 delivery venues of the mindfulness-based program were evaluated (online vs. in-person).
Group differences were examined over time on perceived stress and secondary measures to clarify which variables to include in future studies: sleep quality, mood, pain levels, work productivity, mindfulness, blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate variability.
Investigators from Buenos Aires University examined psychoneuroendocrine responses to three different types of stress management programs. The first arm was training in deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery (RRGI); the second arm was training in cognitive behavioral techniques (CB); and the third arm of the study included both RRGI and CB (RRGICB).
Fifty-two undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of the 3 conditions or a control group. A pre/post experimental design was used, measuring anxiety, anger, hopelessness, neuroticism, respiration rate, and salivary cortisol levels.
Researchers from the Istituto Auxologico Italiano in Milan, Italy, tested an unlikely idea for easing commuter stress. They compared three kinds of specially prepared multimedia de-stressing programs designed for delivery over cell phones to stressed out commuters. (One can only hope that these were implemented when people were stuck in traffic and not driving..)
Researchers from the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University in Japan investigated the impact of a 5-min stay in a hospital's rooftop forest on relaxation in elderly patients requiring care.
This was a within-subject, cross-sectional study where the participants were 30 elderly female patients requiring help in walking, with an average age of 81.
Responses were measured with a simplified emotional 7-point rating
scale, ranging from -3 to +3 for 5 pairs of emotions. This instrument
was derived from the two-question Whooley Depression Screen and was used
as a subjective indicator.
Researchers from the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain in Davis, California, investigated the effects of a 3-month intensive meditation retreat on telomerase activity and 2 measures of perceived stress - . (Telomerase activity reverses cell aging and is a predictor of long-term cellular viability. Aging is accelerated by chronic stress)
The two measures of perceived stress were Perceived Control (associated with decreased stress) and Subjective Distress. In addition, the authors investigated whether two qualities developed by meditative practice - increased Mindfulness and Purpose in Life - accounted for retreat-related changes in the two stress-related variables and in telomerase activity.