, Volume 10, Issue 11, pp 2452–2467 | Cite as

Cross-Fertilizing Qualitative Perspectives on Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention: An Empirical Comparison of Four Methodical Approaches

  • Pascal FrankEmail author
  • Laura Stanszus
  • Daniel Fischer
  • Klara Kehnel
  • Paul Grossman



Qualitative methods come along with specific methodological backgrounds and related empirical strengths and weaknesses. Research is lacking addressing the question of what it precisely means to study mindfulness practices from a particular methodological point of view. The aim of this paper is to shed light on what qualities of mindfulness different qualitative methods can elucidate.


Based on interviews stemming from participants of a consumer-focused mindfulness training (BiNKA), we undertook a comparison of four different analyses, namely content analysis (CA), grounded theory (GT), interpretative-phenomenological analysis (IPA), and discourse analysis (DA).


Independently applying the four methods on our data material led to the following findings: CA demonstrated that the training had effects on self-awareness, well-being, and the development of ethical qualities and influenced pre-consumptive stages of participants; GT revealed the complex set of conditions determining whether and how the mindfulness training influenced the attendees; IPA highlighted the subjectivity of the mindfulness experience, suggesting that (1) different training elements have varying effects on participants and (2) it is often not the meditation practice, but other course elements that cause the effects experienced by the attendees; DA demonstrated that the course experience was influenced by subjective theories held by the participants. In particular, they showed typical strategies of rationalizing their consumption.


A pluralistic qualitative research assists in identifying blind spots and limitations of a single method, increases the self-reflexivity, and helps to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of mindfulness practice or other processes of covert lived experience.


Mindfulness Qualitative Pluralistic qualitative research Reflexive methodology Sustainable consumption 


Authors’ Contributions

PF: designed and executed the study, coordinated and participated in the data analyses, and wrote the paper. LS: co-designed and co-executed the study, participated in the data analyses and wrote the sub-sections on qualitative content analysis, DF: co-designed the study and participated in writing the paper, KK: undertook the DA analysis, wrote the corresponding sub-sections and supported in formatting the manuscript, PG: supervised the execution the study and the data analysis and participated in writing the paper. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Funding Information

The present study has been made possible through funding received from the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in the project BiNKA (Education for Sustainable Consumption through Mindfulness Training) under grants 01UT1416 and 01UT1416B.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent Statement

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


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leuphana University LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Technische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.University Zurich/SwitzerlandZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.European Center for MindfulnessFreiburgGermany

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