Article

Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth

Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.09). 05/2010; 38(7):985-94. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-010-9418-x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Youth in underserved, urban communities are at risk for a range of negative outcomes related to stress, including social-emotional difficulties, behavior problems, and poor academic performance. Mindfulness-based approaches may improve adjustment among chronically stressed and disadvantaged youth by enhancing self-regulatory capacities. This paper reports findings from a pilot randomized controlled trial assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention. Four urban public schools were randomized to an intervention or wait-list control condition (n=97 fourth and fifth graders, 60.8% female). It was hypothesized that the 12-week intervention would reduce involuntary stress responses and improve mental health outcomes and social adjustment. Stress responses, depressive symptoms, and peer relations were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Findings suggest the intervention was attractive to students, teachers, and school administrators and that it had a positive impact on problematic responses to stress including rumination, intrusive thoughts, and emotional arousal.

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    • "adults (Barnes et al., 2003; Mendelson et al., 2010; Weare and Nind, 2011). The presence of effective coping and emotion regulation skills in early life protects psychological well-being and promotes resilience across the life span (Greenberg et al., 2003; Greenberg and Harris, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies investigating the feasibility and impact of mindfulness programs on emotional well-being when delivered by school teachers in pre-adolescence are scarce. This study reports the findings of a controlled feasibility pilot which assessed acceptability and emotional well-being outcomes of an 8-week mindfulness program (Paws b) for children aged 7–9 years. The program was delivered by school teachers within a regular school curriculum. Emotional well-being was measured using self-report questionnaires at baseline, post-training and 3 months follow-up, and informant reports were collected at baseline and follow-up. Seventy one participants aged 7–9 years were recruited from three primary schools in the UK (training group n = 33; control group n = 38). Acceptability of the program was high with 76% of children in the training group reporting ‘liking’ practicing mindfulness at school, with a strong link to wanting to continue practicing mindfulness at school (p < 0.001). Self-report comparisons revealed that relative to controls, the training group showed significant decreases in negative affect at follow-up, with a large effect size (p = 0.010, d = 0.84). Teacher reports (but not parental ratings) of meta-cognition also showed significant improvements at follow-up with a large effect size (p = 0.002, d = 1.08). Additionally, significant negative correlations were found between changes in mindfulness and emotion regulation scores from baseline to post-training (p = 0.038) and baseline to follow-up (p = 0.033). Findings from this study provide initial evidence that the Paws b program in children aged 7–9 years (a) can be feasibly delivered by primary school teachers as part of the regular curriculum, (b) is acceptable to the majority of children, and (c) may significantly decrease negative affect and improve meta-cognition.
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    • "Indeed, research on the effects of mindfulness programs taught to school students has shown that such programs significantly reduce stress and anxiety (see Waters et al., 2015, for a recent review). Mindfulness has also been found to increase calmness, restful alertness, emotional regulation, and relaxation in children and teenagers (Campion & Rocco, 2009; Broderick & Metz, 2009; Mendelson et al., 2010). The research above motivates Hypothesis 1. "

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    • "Research on stress exposure informed the conceptual model shown in Fig. 1. This model suggests that mindful yoga may improve youth behavioral outcomes by positively influencing youths' emotional and cognitive regulation (Mendelson et al. 2010; Feagans Gould et al. 2014). A hypothesis related to this model is that mindfulness and yoga interventions may improve self-regulation through the practice of present-moment awareness and calming the body using breath work, yogic body postures, and guided attention training . "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies on school-based mindfulness and yoga programs have focused primarily on quantitative measurement of program outcomes. This study used qualitative data to investigate program content and skills that students remembered and applied in their daily lives. Data were gathered following a 16-week mindfulness and yoga intervention delivered at three urban schools by a community non-profit organization. We conducted focus groups and interviews with nine classroom teachers who did not participate in the program and held six focus groups with 22 fifth and sixth grade program participants. This study addresses two primary research questions: (1) What skills did students learn, retain, and utilize outside the program? and (2) What changes did classroom teachers expect and observe among program recipients? Four major themes related to skill learning and application emerged as follows: (1) youths retained and utilized program skills involving breath work and poses; (2) knowledge about health benefits of these techniques promoted self-utilization and sharing of skills; (3) youths developed keener emotional appraisal that, coupled with new and improved emotional regulation skills, helped de-escalate negative emotions, promote calm, and reduce stress; and (4) youths and teachers reported realistic and optimistic expectations for future impact of acquired program skills. We discuss implications of these findings for guiding future research and practice.
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