Dispositional Mindfulness Profiles in Adolescents and their Associations with Psychological Functioning and Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis Hormones

Abstract

Adolescence is often accompanied by an increase in stress and depression. Although there is considerable consensus about the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions to reduce these problems, the results for the role of dispositional mindfulness facets have been mixed. Recent studies have contributed to clarifying this role by identifying subtypes of individuals according to their profiles in mindfulness facets and examining the functioning of these profiles in relation to several self-reported indicators of wellbeing and health. The current study extends previous research by exploring mindfulness profiles in adolescents and by providing several sources of indicators (self-reports, parent-reports, and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis hormones) to examine the adaptive role of these profiles. A sample of 571 adolescents (50.61% girls; 12–17 years old) completed measures of mindfulness, depression, maladaptive schemas, and temperament (neuroticism, extraversion, and effortful control), and provided salivary samples for cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. In addition, 331 adolescents’ parents completed measures of their children’ temperaments. The results of latent profile analyses supported a three-profile solution: (1) moderate mindfulness (65.5%), (2) judgmental observing (24.2%), and (3) nonjudgmentally aware (10.3%). The judgmental observing profile was associated with a worse adjustment, indicated by higher depressive symptoms, maladaptive schemas, perceived stress, stress-associated hormones, and neuroticism, as well as lower scores on extroversion and effortful control. This profile was more frequent among the oldest adolescents. In contrast, the nonjudgmentally aware group presented a better adjustment and was more frequent among the youngest adolescents. These findings have implications for preventive interventions. Analyzing the specific profile of each adolescent can help improve individual intervention, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each adolescent.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the schools, parents, and adolescents who participated in the study.

Authors’ Contributions

E.C. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; L.F.G. participated in the design and interpretation of the data; A.E. performed the measurements; I.O. participated in the design and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This research was supported by a grant from the Spanish Government (Ref. PSI2015-68426-R) and from the Basque Country (Ref. IT982-16 and Ref. PI_2016_1_0023).

Data Sharing and Declaration

The dataset is available at https://osf.io/p7jz5/.

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Correspondence to Esther Calvete.

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The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Deusto (Ref. ETK-2/14-15).

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Calvete, E., Fernández-González, L., Echezarraga, A. et al. Dispositional Mindfulness Profiles in Adolescents and their Associations with Psychological Functioning and Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal Axis Hormones. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1406–1419 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01128-6

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Keywords

  • Dispositional mindfulness
  • Depression
  • Cortisol
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate
  • Adolescents
  • Latent profile analysis