Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 10, pp 2633–2649 | Cite as

Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Adolescents with Mental Health Conditions: A Systematic Review of the Research Literature

  • Zlatina KostovaEmail author
  • Leonard Levin
  • Boris Lorberg
  • Douglas Ziedonis
Review Paper



Although research investigating Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for adults has increased exponentially, the evidence of the effects of MBIs on adolescents with mental health problems is only beginning to emerge. Our aim is to systematically review the current state of the MBI research literature across the range of mental health conditions in adolescents, and to identify some key research questions yet unanswered.


MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Scopus were searched, as well as the references of retrieved articles. Of 754 articles, 17 met the inclusion criteria. Of these, only a few studies implemented a manualized intervention for adolescents, five featured interventions adapted from the classical Mindfulness models (MBSR and MBCT), while the remaining studies used a combination between these models while incorporating also other components. In terms of research design, only three of the studies were RCTs, seven pilot studies, five design studies and the rest were feasibility studies. Moreover, only three of the seventeen studies used validated measures of mindfulness in gauging the impact of the interventions.


We identified the following four categories of mental health conditions in studies of MBIs among adolescents: Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Disorders; Mood and Anxiety Disorders; Substance Abuse Disorders, and Heterogeneous Disorders.


The evidence so far suggests that MBIs are both feasible and well accepted, although study populations and methods varied so much that precise estimates of impact on clinical outcomes needs further research. Guided by our systematic review, we summarize ways to adapt MBIs for adolescents with mental health problems.


Mindfulness Adolescents Mental health conditions Clinical disorders Clinical settings 


Authors Contributions

ZK contributed to the design of the study, the study selection, performed the data extraction, quality assessment and drafted the manuscript. LL contributed to literature search and study selection, data extraction, and the drafting and editing of the final manuscript. BL and DZ contributed to the design of the study, and drafting and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zlatina Kostova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leonard Levin
    • 2
  • Boris Lorberg
    • 3
  • Douglas Ziedonis
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.University of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.University of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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