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Internet Mindfulness Meditation for Cognition and Mood in Older Adults: A Pilot Study

March 1, 2016
Helané Wahbeh

Wahbeh, H., Goodrich, E., & Oken, B. S. (2016). Internet-based Mindfulness Meditation for Cognition and Mood in Older Adults: A Pilot Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 22(2), 44-53.

Abstract

Background

Older adults are at risk for greater chronic stress and cognitive decline. Mindfulness meditation training may help reduce stress and thus cognitive decline in older adults, but little research has explored this.

Objective

The primary aim was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an internet mindfulness meditation intervention and an internet health and wellness education program for a sample of older adults (65–90 years old). The secondary aims were to collect preliminary pre-post data on mood and cognitive function.

Design and Setting

Baseline and endpoint assessments occurred in participants’ homes. Participants were randomized to the meditation or education program taught how to access and complete their allocated intervention at their home.

Participants

16 participants completed the study (8 receiving each intervention), and five dropped out (76% completion rate). Mean age was 76.2, 88% Caucasian, 50% Female.

Intervention

Both the meditation and education interventions had a one-hour online session each week for six weeks with 30 minutes daily home practice.

Primary Outcome Measures

Feasibility and acceptability were measured through adherence and a Client Satisfaction Questionnaire. Mood and cognitive outcomes were evaluated before and after the interventions.

Results

Of 21 people enrolled, 16 participants completed the study with 8 in each arm (76% completion rate). There were no significant between-arm differences on important demographic and other characteristics. Acceptability was high for the interventions based on above average scores on the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire. The IMMI participants completed 4.25 ± 2.4 sessions (range 0–6), 604 ± 506 (range 0–1432) home practice minutes, and 21.3 ± 15.5 days of practice (range 0–46). The Education participants completed an average of 4.75 ± 1.8 sessions (range 2–6), 873 ± 395 (range 327–1524) home practice minutes and 25.6 days of practice (range 11–35). Feasibility of the intervention formats and appropriateness of the control group was demonstrated. As expected due to the pilot nature of the study, there were no group differences on mood or cognitive outcomes.

Conclusions

Administering interventions via the internet to older adults is feasible. The two interventions were acceptable and equal in regards to perceived credibility and acceptability. Future randomized controlled trials are planned to evaluate the clinical efficacy of these two interventions.


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