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29-09-2021 | ORIGINAL PAPER Open Access

Developments in Qualitative Mindfulness Practice Research: a Pilot Scoping Review

Pascal Frank, Marieke Marken
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-021-01748-9.

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While scholars are increasingly emphasizing the potential of qualitative mindfulness practice research (QMPR) for advancing the understanding of mindfulness practice, there has been no significant empirical inquiry looking at actual trends and practices of QMPR. Consequently, it has been impossible to direct research practices toward under-researched areas and make methodical suggestions on how to approach them. The aim of the present study was to analyze current trends and practices in QMPR in order to address these areas of need.


Based on a scoping review, 229 qualitative studies published between 2000 and 2019 were analyzed in regard to their disciplinary backgrounds, research questions and intentions, type of mindfulness practice, target population, as well as practices of data collection and analysis.


A strong focus of QMPR lies in the inquiry of mindfulness-based interventions, particularly mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and adaptations. Over 10% of the publications do not fully specify the mindfulness practice. The efficacy and subjective experience of mindfulness practices constitute the dominant research interests of QMPR. Data collection is highly concentrated on practice participants and first-person data. Interpretative paradigms are the predominant analytical approach within QMPR. QMPR studies have a strong proclivity toward emphasizing the positive effects of mindfulness practice. Nine percent of all articles considered for our study did not fully disclose their analytical procedure. Adversarial research groups and pluralistic qualitative research remain scarce.


Future QMPR should (i) include second- and third-person data, (ii) include dropouts and former mindfulness practitioners, (iii) fully disclose details on the mindfulness practice and data analysis, (iv) intensify the application of critical and deconstructivist paradigms, as well as pluralistic qualitative research, and (v) build adversarial research teams.

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