The Shape of Change in Perceived Stress, Negative Affect, and Stress Sensitivity During Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Both daily stress and the tendency to react to stress with heightened levels of negative affect (i.e., stress sensitivity) are important vulnerability factors for adverse mental health outcomes. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may help to reduce perceived daily stress and stress sensitivity. The purpose of this study was to examine how change in perceived stress, negative affect (NA), and the decoupling between perceived stress and NA evolved over the course of a MBSR program, without making any a priori assumptions on the shape of change. Seventy-one adults from the general population participating in MBSR provided daily diary assessments of perceived stress and NA during MBSR. The time-varying effect model (TVEM) indicated that perceived stress and NA decreased in a linear fashion rather than in a nonlinear fashion, both as a function of time and as a function of the cumulative number of days of mindfulness practice. Both TVEM and multilevel growth modeling showed that the association between perceived stress and NA did not decrease over the course of MBSR. The findings support the hypothesis that MBSR reduces NA and also reduces the extent to which individuals perceive their days as stressful. Also, the results suggest that there is a dose-response relationship between the amount of mindfulness practice and reductions in daily stress and NA.
KeywordsDaily diary studies Intensive longitudinal methods Stress reactivity Emotional regulation Mindfulness Time-varying effect model
This project was supported by the Foundation “De Drie Lichten” in the Netherlands, an Aspasia Grant (NWO; to M. Wichers), and Award P50 DA010075 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health. Data analysis was done using the R 3.2.1 software packages. The R software is copyright 2015 by The R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Finally, we thank Bethany Bray and Runze Li for the very helpful discussions.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures contributing to this work were in accordance with the ethical standards of the relevant national research committees and with the Helsinki declaration of 1964 and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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