Examining the impact of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans
CITATION: Whitesman, S. L., et al. 2018. Examining the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction intervention on the health of urban South Africans. African Journal of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine, 10(1):1-5, doi:10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1614.
The original publication is available at https://phcfm.org
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
Background: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to have significant health benefits in studies conducted in the global North. Aim: This study examined the effects of MBSR on stress, mood states and medical symptoms among urban South Africans to inform future research and clinical directions of MBSR in local settings. Setting: Participants completed an 8-week MBSR programme based in central Cape Town. Method: A retrospective analysis of 276 clinical records was conducted. Mindfulness, stress, negative and positive mood, medical symptoms and psychological symptoms were assessed before and after the intervention using self-report questionnaires. We compared pre and postintervention scores and examined the relationship between changes in mindfulness and changes in stress, mood and medical symptoms. Results: Mindfulness scores were significantly higher after intervention, both on the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). Changes on the KIMS were associated with reductions in stress, negative mood, psychological symptoms and total medical symptoms, and improvement in positive mood. Changes in mindfulness, as measured by the MAAS, were significantly correlated only with reduced total number of medical symptoms. Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence for the positive health impact of MBSR on urban South Africans, and in turn acceptability and feasibility evidence for MBSR in South Africa and supports the case for larger trials in different local settings.