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20-09-2021 | ORIGINAL PAPER

For Whom Do Meditation Interventions Improve Mental Health Symptoms? Looking at the Roles of Psychological and Biological Resources over Time

Nikki E. Barczak-Scarboro, Patty Van Cappellen, Barbara L. Fredrickson
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-021-01742-1.

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Engaging in meditation seems to be an effective manner of bettering psychosocial health. Although these findings hold for most people, individual differences may affect who gets greater gains from meditation. Psychological (i.e., resilience, spirituality) and biological (i.e., cardiac vagal tone, oxytocin) personal resources may work individually or synergistically to catalyze meditation-related improvements in mental health, such as increased positive (well-being) and decreased negative (depression) mental health symptoms.


A community-based sample of 210 adults (modeage = 35 years; 61.86% female) were recruited and randomly assigned to either mindfulness (n = 107; 51.2%) or loving-kindness (n = 102; 48.8%) meditation conditions (1 missing). The study lasted 18 months, starting with baseline measures, succeeded by a 6-week meditation intervention, and follow-up assessments every 3 months.


The fixed effect of resilience was significant, as was the interaction between resilience and time, indicating different mental health symptom trajectories during and after a meditation intervention based on resilience.


Participants low in resilience tended to have the greatest gains (increased subjective well-being and decreased depressive symptoms) following a meditation intervention, yet these gains were not maintained 18 months following the intervention. Those high in resilience did not show mental health gains following a meditation intervention but did have higher subjective well-being symptoms 18 months following the intervention indicating that they may have experienced delayed gains.

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