A meta-analysis published in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry aims to establish the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for children.
Darren Dunning and colleagues carried out a systematic literature search of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of MBIs conducted up to October 2017. Thirty-three studies (3,666 children, ages 18 years or younger) were included in the meta-analysis, with outcome measures categorized into cognitive, behavioral, and emotional. In addition, a separate meta-analysis was completed for 17 RCTs (1,762 children) that had an active control condition (i.e., something else that might be expected to benefit participants, but did not include mindfulness).
The analyses showed:
- Across all RCTs, the researchers found small positive effects of MBIs, compared with control groups, for all measures (overall ES= +0.19).
- In particular, MBIs led to greater improvements for mindfulness (ES= +0.24), executive functions (ES= +0.30), and attention (ES= +0.13).
- However, for the RCTs with active control groups, children who completed an MBI improved significantly more than those in the active control groups on outcomes of mindfulness (ES= +0.42), depression (ES= +0.47), and anxiety/stress (ES= +0.18) only.
The authors suggested that it showed MBIs are promising for improving the mental health and well-being of youth. The Best Evidence in Brief previously reported another review of MBIs examining its effectiveness on achievements and other outcomes.
Source (open access): Dunning, D. L., Griffiths, K., Kuyken, W., Crane, C., Foulkes, L., Parker, J., & Dalgleish, T. (2018). Research Review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Advanced online publication. doi.org:10.1111/jcpp.12980