Although research investigating Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for adults has increased exponentially, the evidence of the effects of MBIs on adolescents with mental health problems is only beginning to emerge. Our aim is to systematically review the current state of the MBI research literature across the range of mental health conditions in adolescents, and to identify some key research questions yet unanswered.
MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Scopus were searched, as well as the references of retrieved articles. Of 754 articles, 17 met the inclusion criteria. Of these, only a few studies implemented a manualized intervention for adolescents, five featured interventions adapted from the classical Mindfulness models (MBSR and MBCT), while the remaining studies used a combination between these models while incorporating also other components. In terms of research design, only three of the studies were RCTs, seven pilot studies, five design studies and the rest were feasibility studies. Moreover, only three of the seventeen studies used validated measures of mindfulness in gauging the impact of the interventions.
We identified the following four categories of mental health conditions in studies of MBIs among adolescents: Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Disorders; Mood and Anxiety Disorders; Substance Abuse Disorders, and Heterogeneous Disorders.
The evidence so far suggests that MBIs are both feasible and well accepted, although study populations and methods varied so much that precise estimates of impact on clinical outcomes needs further research. Guided by our systematic review, we summarize ways to adapt MBIs for adolescents with mental health problems.