Making MBSR More Accessible

MindfulnessImage by kenleyneufeld via Flickr
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is the best studied method of offering mindfulness in a group format. It is often given in eight week courses, with some programs requiring 28 hours of class time and about 40 hours of home practice. Costs for these courses can exceed $500.00. Thus, participation in a traditionally-structured MBSR course can require a commitment of time and resources that many are unable to make.

One interesting thing about MBSR is that we don't expect to emerge from our first course as mindfulness experts. Hopefully, we have learned some foundational skills and attitudes that we can develop and explore in our ongoing lives. The spirit of investigation is probably the most important thing to cultivate in our first exposure, because that is what will sustain our practice in the long run.

Now, research is emerging about the optimal way of introducing mindfulness, exploring the possibility of mindfulness and stress reduction courses which are shorter and therefore more available to people with difficult schedules and/or limited financial resources. It seems that outcomes from shorter courses are quite similar to those of longer courses.

Here are some statistics from a recent review by James Carmody and Ruth Baer (2009):
A recent report by Jain and colleagues (Jain et al., 2007) of a randomized trial of an MBSR program with 12 hours of class time found a pre- and post-MBSR effect size of 1.36 (Cohen’s d) in the General Severity Index (GSI)... a measure of overall psychological distress. In a recent report of outcomes from an 8-week program comprising 26 hours of class time, Carmody and Baer (2008) found an effect size of .65 for the same measure. Participants in these two studies reported similar levels of distress at preprogram assessment (T score range 62–64)... A recent trial by Klatt, Buckworth, and Malarkey (2008) found an effect size of .61 in a program consisting of 6 in-class hours. Finally, in a recent meta-analysis of MBSR outcomes, Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, and Walach (2004) reported a mean between-groups effect size at posttreatment for all mental health scales of .62 for a trial in which MBSR included 20 hours of class time (Shapiro, Bootzin, Figueredo, Lopez, & Schwartz, 2003) and a similar effect size (.56) for a trial in which MBSR included 28 hours of class time (Williams, Kolar, Reger, & Pearson, 2001).

In this review, it was found that shorter programs (sometimes referred to as MBSR-ld, or "lower dose") have comparable or even greater impact on stress than the traditional MBSR program. Also, it seems that participants completing the shorter course have a high degree of interest in mindfulness and are motivated to continue to develop their practice.

At Integrative Health Partners, we have decided that our next course in Mindfulness and Stress Reduction will conform to the emerging "LD" model. We will offer a 4 week program modeled on the research of Olivio et al (2009).  Our hope is that people who have felt daunted by the typical 8-week time commitment will find it possible to participate.  If you are interested, feel free to contact Dr. Becca Meyer (312-372-2880) about the details of the next course.

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Toni said...

I'm so glad that MBSR is becoming more accessible to people. I thought you might be interested in an article I just posted at Psychology Today on using mindfulness to help with physical pain and suffering. You're welcome to use it on your site if you find it helpful. All I ask is that you include my name and my website (which you can see in my profile). Here's the link to the article, with thanks for all the work you're doing:

Loe Wilson said...

I heard that a recently a new study have been published for the relaxation and reduce stress of our mind. This training has been given 1hour a week and I think it is beneficial.

Mindfulness Therapy Sydney