A mixed methods approach exploring the effects of a mindfulness based stress reduction program
Barker, Krista L.
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The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of a mindfulness based stress reduction program (MBSR) using a mixed methods approach. The MBSR is an eight week educational and experiential group program that meets once a week for two and a half hours where participants learn a variety of stress reduction strategies such as; mindfulness meditation techniques, breathing exercises, body scans, and hatha yoga postures. The overarching mixed methods design used was the equivalent status design with parallel/simultaneous qualitative and quantitative components (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998). The quantitative component of this study utilized a pre-experimental pre-test post-test design with six treatment groups, with a total of 43 subjects. Two outcomes measures were used, the Beck Depressions Inventory and the Rand 36-Item Health Survey 1.0. Both practically and statistically significant results emerged in the areas of depression, emotional well-being and social functioning. The research question guiding the qualitative data component of this dissertation was; how does mindfulness impact human beings? The data collection methods used during the qualitative phase were focusing and bounding data (Miles & Huberman, 1994), nonprobability sampling procedures, and semi-structured in-depth interviews. The qualitative data were analyzed using the modification of the van Kaam method of phenomenological analysis outlined by Moustakas (1994). Five themes emerged in the composite description of interview data; learning new coping skills, increased awareness, present moment living, learning about self, and improved interpersonal relationships. The results indicate that the process of how mindfulness impacts human beings and effects change is highly complex. The results suggest that there exists an indirect path to symptom reduction and stress reduction that is highly effective towards influencing change in human beings. This indirect path is valuable in the sense that it has the power to reduce suffering and improve quality of life with or without a direct impact on symptoms. The results further indicate that a theoretical relationship exists between the assumptions of Buddhist philosophy and the MBSR intervention.