Weekly change in mindfulness and perceived stress in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
Baer RA., Carmody J., Hunsinger M.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to examine weekly change in self-reported mindfulness and perceived stress in participants who completed an 8-week course in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). METHOD: Participants were 87 adults with problematic levels of stress related to chronic illness, chronic pain, and other life circumstances (mean age = 49 years, 67% female) participating in MBSR in an academic medical center. They completed weekly self-report assessments of mindfulness skills and perceived stress. It was hypothesized that significant improvement in mindfulness skills would precede significant change in stress. RESULTS: Mindfulness skills and perceived stress both changed significantly from pretreatment to posttreatment. Significant increases in mindfulness occurred by the second week of the program, whereas significant improvements in perceived stress did not occur until week 4. Extent of change in mindfulness skills during the first three weeks predicted change in perceived stress over the course of the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence that changes in mindfulness precede changes in perceived stress in a standard MBSR course is consistent with previous studies suggesting that improvements in mindfulness skills may mediate the effects of mindfulness training on mental health outcomes.