College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Psychology

First Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Second Advisor

Ashley M. Stripling

Third Advisor

Barry Nierenberg

Keywords

aging, clinical psychology, meditation, mindfulness, mindfulness-based interventions, older adults

Abstract

Mindfulness-based interventions use meditation and other learning exercises to help individuals become more aware of their current physiological and emotional experiences. Benefits of practicing mindfulness include an increase in positive psychological outcomes (e.g., psychological well-being, emotion regulation) and a decrease in negative psychological outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression). The vast majority of studies focus on younger rather than older adults—setting the stage for the current study, which involved delivering a 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). The current study added to the existing literature by conducting a longitudinal quasi-experimental delayed treatment trial in a sample of older adults. First, it was hypothesized that there would be an intervention effect on several variables. Specifically, it was hypothesized that participants would experience decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as increases in the five facets of mindfulness, psychological well-being, and emotional regulation. Second, it was hypothesized that the mindfulness-based intervention would be feasible and acceptable, as indicated by low levels of intervention noncompliance and participant attrition as well as high scores in satisfaction and practice log completion rates. Participants were 19 older adults from a local retirement community. Participants were assigned to either an immediate treatment (n = 11) or delayed treatment (n = 8) group. All participants were assessed at the universal baseline, week 5 (i.e. intervention completion of immediate treatment group), week 10 (i.e. intervention completion of delayed treatment group), and at week 15. The 5-week mindfulness-based intervention included psychoeducation (e.g., mindfulness, stress, aging, values), discussion of all concepts, and mindfulness practice. A series of two (group) by four (time of assessment) analysis of covariance models were estimated to evaluate primary outcomes. Results indicated that there was no significant treatment effect on primary outcomes. However, the mindfulness-based intervention was feasible and acceptable. Gaining additional knowledge of how mindfulness-based interventions influence coping strategies in older adults will allow clinicians and researchers to influence interventions for older adults and facilitate older adults receiving adequate psychological treatment while managing common stressors associated with aging.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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