Jefferson Mindfulness Program Improves Mind-Body Health in Elders

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Study results show significantly greater improvement in psychological flexibility and less limitations due to physical health conditions.

Researchers at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson tested the feasibility and effectiveness of an adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in a group of elders living in a continuing-care retirement community.

“Our team found that an adapted MBSR program is feasible even for a much older population than previously reported in the literature on meditation training for the elderly. The mean age of our participants was 82 years,” said Diane Reibel, Ph.D., Director of The Mindfulness Institute at Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson. “The participants reported several perceived benefits including greater concentration, improved mood, and less worry.”

The pilot study, published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, used a randomized waitlist control design to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. MBSR participants completed both quantitative measures and qualitative interviews. Study results show significantly greater improvement in psychological flexibility (acceptance) and less limitations due to physical health conditions for those who were randomized to the MBSR group.

In the qualitative interviews, the MBSR participants reported increased awareness and ability to be present in the moment, as well as greater self-compassion. In summary, this research shows that mindfulness-based stress reduction – a cost-effective group model – can help elders improve quality of life and well-being.

The authors report no conflicts of interest. This work was supported by a grant from the Friends Foundation for the Aging.

Article Reference: Aleezé S. Moss, Diane K. Reibel, Jeffrey M. Greeson, Anjali Thapar, Rebecca Bubb, Jacqueline Salmon, and Andrew B. Newberg. An Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Elders in a Continuing Care Retirement Community: Quantitative and Qualitative Results From a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Applied Gerontology. First published online on December 9, 2014 as doi: 10.1177/0733464814559411.

About Jefferson — Health is all we do.
Thomas Jefferson University, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and Jefferson University Physicians are partners in providing the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educating the health professionals of tomorrow, and discovering new treatments and therapies that will define the future of healthcare. Thomas Jefferson University enrolls more than 3,600 future physicians, scientists and healthcare professionals in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC); Jefferson Schools of Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy, Population Health; and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and is home of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Jefferson University Physicians is a multi-specialty physician practice consisting of over 650 SKMC full-time faculty. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals is the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia. Services are provided at five locations — Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience in Center City Philadelphia; Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia; Jefferson at the Navy Yard; and Jefferson at Voorhees in South Jersey.

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