Evaluation of a Mindfulness Intervention for College Students

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Mindfulness may be defined as the awareness that arises from purposeful, present-focused, and nonjudgmental attention (Kabat-Zinn, 2012). This ancient practice has inspired a growing body of literature which supports the usefulness of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI; Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Several MBI have been developed to support college students, many of whom experience high levels of stress (DeRosier, 2013) as well as anxiety and depression (ACHA-NCHA II, 2014). Many MBI are inaccessible to students due to time and financial constraints in addition to help-seeking barriers (Calloway et al., 2012). The mindfulness-based self-help intervention Mindful Awareness Training for Students (MATS) was designed to address these concerns. MATS is a seven-week intervention delivered primarily online which is based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and other MBI. This study evaluates the effectiveness of MATS by comparing experimental and no-treatment control groups from a sample of 54 undergraduates. The intervention’s impact was assessed by measures of wellbeing (mindfulness, perceived stress, positive and negative affect, gratitude, self-compassion, depression, anxiety, stress, self-efficacy, self-regulation, and adjustment to college), academic performance, intervention participation, and a program evaluation. Analyses revealed no significant group differences attributable to the intervention. However, mindfulness was significantly correlated with academic performance and many variables of psychological wellbeing. MATS appears to be well-received, with the majority of students rating its overall value as above average and students reporting increased meditation practice from before to after the intervention. Limitations and future directions are discussed.