A Gender by Ethnicity Interaction in Elementary Aged School Children on an Experimental Mindfulness Measure
Cody Gustaveson, B.A., Brian Rankin, B.S., and Matthew S. Goodman, M.S.
Recent research has identified a relationship between autonomic functioning and perceived discrimination in healthy African American male adults. One proposed mechanism is that coping strategies adopted by different cultural groups contribute to differences in autonomic functioning, and these differences may account for disparities in the prevalence of autonomic-linked disorders such as hypertension. Researchers have identified a relationship between mindfulness and functioning of the autonomic nervous system. As such, scores on a measure of mindfulness, The Mindfulness Inventory for Children and Adolescents (MICA; Briere, 2011), were examined in 62 elementary school children ages eight to ten-years-old to identify differences based on gender and ethnicity. There were no group differences on overall scores. Examination of scores on the five subscales of the MICA, equanimity, self-acceptance, present-centered awareness, metacognitive awareness, and acceptance of internal experience, was conducted. This analysis revealed a significant interaction (Gender x Ethnicity) F (1, 58) = 4.95, p = .030,ηp2 = .08 in which males who were members of ethnic minority groups scored significantly lower on a measure of equanimity than females from ethnic minorities and both Caucasian males and females. No other scores were found to be significantly different. These results suggest that even at young ages, males from ethnic minority groups may respond to difficult situations, including discrimination, in a way that contributes to poorer autonomic functioning. As such, the results identify more research is needed to better understand these differences and how they contribute to autonomic functioning.
Increasing Testing Focus and Decreasing Testing Anxiety
Christian N. Freeman M.A. Ed.
Test taking has increased in all elementary schools across the nation. The increase in testing has had a negative impact on learning. Having testing anxiety can cause under achievement and prevent some students from performing at their academic potential. This study is designed to use two mindfulness techniques directly before taking math tests. Students will use mindful breathing and 1 minute of mindful focusing. This study will measure the efficacy of daily mindful practices to reduce testing anxiety.
Method: 100 elementary students in 4th and 5th grade participated in the study. Participants were assigned to two groups: mindfulness techniques and the control with no treatment. All participants completed baseline measures. The mindfulness techniques participants received training sessions prior to testing. Then the mindfulness techniques group practiced mindful breathing and a focused mind every day at the start of math class and right before all math tests. After each test participants completed a short survey about their test experience. Participants in the control group completed baseline measures on the first day and on the last day of the 12 week study. Testing anxiety and increased focused mind will be measured by short surveys and testing scores.
Results: To follow.
Enhancing Negative Emotional Awareness through Mindfulness Meditation Increases Compassion for Others
Parisa Parsafar, M.A., Isabel Perez, Fabian Fontanilla, and Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D.
Background: Sadness enhances careful thinking, reduces stereotyping, and increases politeness, fairness, and focus on others (Forgas, 2013). These processes should undergird pro-social traits like compassion. Experiencing negative emotions without trying to alleviate or change them should promote adaptive negative emotional responding and increase compassion towards others. To test this, we are teaching young adults to notice, feel, and allow their emotions through a brief Mindful Meditation (MM) intervention – and will test how this impacts their compassion.
Method: 210 participants were randomly assigned to an auditory guided MM condition or a comparison condition before they watched a film clip depicting either 1 of 2 negative emotional social injustice situations or a neutral educational film clip. Before and after the auditory session, participants self-reported their state mindful awareness with questions from the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (Walach et al., 2006). Compassion for others was measured before and after the films with The Compassion Scale4 (Pommier, 2011). Negative emotional responding was captured by measuring changes in emotional intensity of self-reports (e.g., sadness) from before to after the film.
Results and Discussion: Men assigned to MM demonstrated an increase in negative emotional responding (self-report) suggesting MM enhanced awareness of emotion. In addition, men who saw the sad film demonstrated a significant increase in compassion towards others compared to those who saw the educational film – suggesting a facilitative effect of sadness awareness on compassion. MM can increase emotional awareness and compassion for men. Findings provide support for the adaptive interpersonal benefits of this enhanced negative emotional awareness – greater compassion.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children Adapted for Pediatric Eating Disorder Patients
Laila A. Madni, Psy.D., Chelsie N. Giambrone, LCSW, and Jessie E. Menzel, Ph.D.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C) is an evidence-based treatment for children (ages 8 to 12) with anxiety and mood symptoms. MBCT-C focuses on cultivating children’s awareness of thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Our population includes patients, ages 7 to 13, in the Pediatric Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient programs at UCSD’s Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research. We primarily treat Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), and believe that MBCT-C addresses several common symptoms. Particularly, increasing awareness may assist with alexithymia often seen in eating disorder patients, and by children in general. Additionally, our patients often express somatic complaints which increase anxiety. In MBCT-C, children practice tolerating distress (cognitive, affective, and somatic), rather than maintaining eating disorders through avoidance.
We implemented an 11-week adapted version of MBCT-C for our pediatric patients with AN and ARFID. Adaptations included shortened duration, adjusted session structure, and omission of certain activities. We then assessed the feasibility for use in this setting, as well as acceptability based on facilitator experience and patient feedback, with the ultimate goal of creating a manualized adaptation of MBCT-C for children with eating disorders. Subjective and anecdotal evidence supports feasibility and acceptability in our setting. However, certain comorbidities presented unique challenges. Overall, post-intervention, most children were able to define mindfulness and its core components, and demonstrate present-moment awareness and nonjudgmental thoughts.