Assessing the Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Older Adults

Grant Winners

  • Christian DeLucia, Ph.D. – College of Psychology
  • Olivia Larson, B.S. – College of Psychology
  • Morgan Levy, M.S. – College of Psychology
  • Ashley Stripling, Ph.D. – College of Psychology

Dean

  • Karen Grosby, Ed.D – College of Psychology

Abstract

Assessing the Efficacy of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention in Older Adults

Mindfulness-based interventions use meditation (and other skills-based learning exercises) to help individuals become more aware of their current physiological and emotional experiences. A large body of research suggests that individuals exposed to mindfulness-based interventions report higher subjective ratings of inner peace and experience a number of positive physiological (e.g., lower blood pressure) and psychological (e.g., lower anxiety) outcomes. The vast majority of studies focus on younger rather than older adults—setting the stage for the current project, which will deliver a brief (five session) mindfulness-based intervention to older adults (i.e., 60 and older). The smaller literature focused on older adults is promising but generally lacks methodological rigor (e.g., lack of no-treatment control groups and failure to examine hypothesized mechanisms of action). The current project will augment the existing literature by conducting a four-wave longitudinal randomized delayed treatment trial in two different samples of older adults—an English-speaking sample and a Spanish-speaking sample. Primary project aims are to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention, examine the efficacy of the intervention, and examine the key hypothesized mechanisms of action. More specifically, we hypothesize that exposure to the intervention will result in gains in positive outcomes (e.g., mindfulness, emotion regulation) and decreases in negative outcomes (e.g., anxiety and depression). We further hypothesize that gains in mindfulness and emotion regulation will partially account for the intervention’s salutary effects on depression and anxiety. This last hypothesis provides an empirical test of the primary hypothesized mechanisms of therapeutic action.

A series of analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models will be used to test the intervention’s efficacy. A series of statistical mediation models will be used to examine putative mechanisms of action. The study design and analytical approach allow for multiple replications of effects of primary interest both within and between the two study samples. These preliminary data should be particularly appealing to external funders. In addition, the proposed project features two NSU-community partnerships, as NSU investigators are teaming up with the Covenant Village of Florida Retirement Community (in Broward County) and The City of Hialeah Milander Aquatic Center (in Miami-Dade County).