Thumbnail Image

Systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing mindfulness-based programs for mental health promotion

Mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) are widely used to prevent mental ill health. Evidence suggests beneficial average effects but wide variability. We aimed to confirm the effect of MBPs and to understand whether and how baseline distress, gender, age, education, and dispositional mindfulness modify the effect of MBPs on distress among adults in non-clinical settings. We conducted a systematic review and individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis (PROSPERO CRD42020200117). Databases were searched in December 2020 for randomized controlled trials satisfying a quality threshold and comparing in-person, expert-defined MBPs with passive-control groups. Two researchers independently selected, extracted and appraised trials using the revised Cochrane Risk-of-Bias tool. IPD of eligible trials were sought from authors. The primary outcome was psychological distress (unpleasant mental or emotional experiences including anxiety and depression) at 1 to 6 months after program completion. Data were checked and imputed if missing. Pairwise, random-effects, two-stage IPD meta-analyses were conducted. Effect modification analyses followed a within-studies approach. Stakeholders were involved throughout this study. Fifteen trials were eligible; 13 trialists shared IPD (2,371 participants representing 8 countries. In comparison with passive-control groups, MBPs reduced average distress between 1 and 6 months post-intervention with a small to moderate effect size (standardized mean difference, −0.32; 95% confidence interval, −0.41 to −0.24; 0.001; no heterogeneity). Results were robust to sensitivity analyses and similar for the other timepoint ranges. Confidence in the primary outcome result is high. We found no clear indication that this effect is modified by the pre-specified candidates. Group-based teacher-led MBPs generally reduce psychological distress among volunteering community adults. More research is needed to identify sources of variability in outcomes at an individual level.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
© 2023 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.