Dismantling Mindfulness

Background: While Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) employ two distinct practices, focused attention (FA) and open monitoring (OM), the integrated delivery of these practices in MBIs precludes understanding of their practice-specific effects or contributions to therapeutic outcomes.

Creation of FA and OM programs: In order to offer a research tool to address this problem, the current study created separate 8-week FA and OM meditation training programs that are structurally equivalent to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).Measures of structural equivalence included participant-level (sample characteristics), treatment-level (program structure and duration, program materials, class size, attendance, homework compliance, etc.) and instructor-level variables (training, ratings and adherence/fidelity). Measures of differential validity included analysis of program materials as well as cognitive and affective skills and beliefs about meditation acquired by participants after the 8-week training.

This dismantling study was a 3-armed controlled trial that compares the effects of attention (Focused Attention: FA), acceptance (Open Monitoring: OM) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, a combination of FA and OM ) on clinical efficacy and three domains of Prefrontal Cortex  (PFC) functioning in 104 individuals with mild-severe depression, anxiety and negative affect. The design is based on Jacobson’s classic 3 armed dismantling study (Jacobson et al.,1996) which compares single elements of a treatment package to the full, combined package.

Registration number and name of trial registry: clinicaltrials.gov NCT#: 01831362

Funding: National Institutes of Health (grant K23-AT006328-01A1)