App-Based Mindfulness for Attenuation of Subjective and Physiological Stress Reactivity in a Population With Elevated Stress: Randomized Controlled Trial

Ulrich Kirk*, Walter Staiano, Emily Hu, Christelle Ngnoumen, Sarah Kunkle, Emily Shih, Alicia Clausel, Clare Purvis, Lauren Lee

*Kontaktforfatter

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Stress-related mental health disorders have steadily increased and contributed to a worldwide disease burden with up to 50% experiencing a stress-related mental health disorder worldwide. Data suggest that only approximately 20%-65% of individuals receive treatment. This gap in receiving treatment may be attributed to barriers such as limited treatment access, negative stigma surrounding mental health treatment, approachability (ie, not having a usual treatment plan or provider), affordability (ie, lack of insurance coverage and high treatment cost), and availability (ie, long waits for appointments) leaving those who need treatment without necessary care. To mitigate the limited access mental health treatment, there has been a rise in the application and study of digital mental health interventions. As such, there is an urgent need and opportunity for effective digital mental health interventions to alleviate stress symptoms, potentially reducing adverse outcomes of stress-related disorders. OBJECTIVE: This study examined if app-based guided mindfulness could improve subjective levels of stress and influence physiological markers of stress reactivity in a population with elevated symptoms of stress. METHODS: The study included 163 participants who had moderate to high perceived stress as assessed by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10). Participants were randomly allocated to 1 of 5 groups: a digital guided program designed to alleviate stress (Managing Stress), a digital mindfulness fundamentals course (Basics), digitally delivered breathing exercises, an active control intervention (Audiobook), and a Waitlist Control group. The 3 formats of mindfulness interventions (Managing Stress, Basics, and Breathing) all had a total duration of 300 minutes spanning 20-30 days. Primary outcome measures were perceived stress using the PSS-10, self-reported sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and trait mindfulness using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. To probe the effects of physiological stress, an acute stress manipulation task was included, specifically the cold pressor task (CPT). Heart rate variability was collected before, during, and after exposure to the CPT and used as a measure of physiological stress. RESULTS: The results showed that PSS-10 and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores for the Managing Stress (all P<.001) and Basics (all P≤.002) groups were significantly reduced between preintervention and postintervention periods, while no significant differences were reported for the other groups. No significant differences among groups were reported for Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (P=.13). The physiological results revealed that the Managing Stress (P<.001) and Basics (P=.01) groups displayed reduced physiological stress reactivity between the preintervention and postintervention periods on the CPT. There were no significant differences reported for the other groups. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate efficacy of app-based mindfulness in a population with moderate to high stress on improving self-reported stress, sleep quality, and physiological measures of stress during an acute stress manipulation task. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05832632; https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05832632.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere47371
TidsskriftJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Vol/bind11
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider16
ISSN2291-5222
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 13. okt. 2023

Bibliografisk note

©Ulrich Kirk, Walter Staiano, Emily Hu, Christelle Ngnoumen, Sarah Kunkle, Emily Shih, Alicia Clausel, Clare Purvis, Lauren Lee. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (https://mhealth.jmir.org), 13.10.2023.

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