Relationships between amount of post-intervention mindfulness practice and follow-up outcome variables in an acceptance-based behavior therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The importance of informal practice

Author(s):
Lucas P.K. Morgan, Jessica R. Graham, Sarah A. Hayes-Skelton, Susan M. Orsillo, Lizabeth Roemer

Abstract:
Because most behavioral treatments are time-limited, skills and practices that foster long-term maintenance of gains made during treatment are of critical importance. While some studies have found mindfulness practice to be associated with improvements in outcome variables over the course of treatment (Vettese, Toneatto, Stea, Nguyen, & Wang, 2009), very little is known about the effects of continued mindfulness practice following treatment termination. The current study examined the relationships between separate single item measurements of three types of mindfulness practices (formal, informal, and mindfulness of breath in daily life) and long-term outcomes in worry, clinician-rated anxiety severity, and quality of life following treatment with an acceptance-based behavior therapy (ABBT) for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in two separate treatment studies. Results from Study 1 showed that at 9-month follow-up, amount of informal mindfulness practice was significantly related to continued beneficial outcomes for worry, clinician-rated anxiety severity, and quality of life. Similarly, in Study 2, at 6-month follow-up informal mindfulness practice was significantly related to continued beneficial outcomes for anxiety severity and worry, and at 12-month follow-up informal mindfulness practice was significantly related to continued beneficial outcomes for quality of life and worry, and mindfulness of breath was significantly related to quality of life. When results from the final time point in both studies were combined, informal practice was significant related to all three outcome variables, and mindfulness of breath was significantly related to worry and quality of life. Formal practice was not significantly related to outcomes in either study, or in the combined sample. These findings support the further study of informal mindfulness practices as important tools for continued beneficial clinical outcomes following treatment for people with a principal diagnosis of GAD.

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