A Meta-analysis of the Effects of Mindfulness on Posttraumatic Growth

Research Category: Health Sciences
Presenter: Sean Hallinan
PI: Mariya Shiyko

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is a positive change in psychological and spiritual development following a personal trauma. Initial evidence suggests that mindfulness practices stimulate PTG; however, ways and the degree of influence are largely unknown. Mindfulness is a collection of meditative practices that build awareness and introspection. This project summarizes results of a comprehensive literature review and meta-analyses to produce a generalized conclusion about the effects of mindfulness on PTG.

A comprehensive search across several databases initially yielded 2407 articles. Of those, 9 studies met the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis (i.e., quantitative, longitudinal) and 17 for a systematic literature review (i.e. PTG as an outcome, mindfulness based intervention). Multilevel meta-analysis was conducted to obtain a global effect size pulling across Hedge’s g from each study. Thematic analysis was conducted for systematic literature review.

The pooled effect size for impact of mindfulness on PTG was estimated at = 0.28, P<0.01, a medium effect. We identified several themes for the systematic review, including focus on acceptance in mindfulness (# studies = 4), possibility of a mediating variable (2), log-term improvements (2) and changes in broader domains than just the PTG alone (4).

This evidence supports potency of mindfulness in stimulating PTG. Most programs involved 6 – 8 week interventions that targeted development of acceptance and positive awareness. Most samples involved individuals diagnosed with physical illnesses (e.g., cancer, fibromyalgia). Future work should confirm generalizability of findings to other populations and centrality of acceptance as the mechanism of impact on PTG.