Past studies have documented links between mindfulness practice and stress-related outcomes, but these links have typically been found over the course of treatment and at the between-person level of analysis. Building on past work, the present study aimed to evaluate practice-stress associations after treatment and at the within-person and between-person levels.
We drew extant data collected from 138 community-recruited adults who had received a standard, 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course and were asked to record formal and informal mindfulness practice time daily and complete a self-report measure of stress every 2 months over a 6-month follow-up period. Latent curve modeling was used to test the within-person and between-person components of the relation between practice and stress over the follow-up period.
Results indicated that, at the within-person level, formal practice time from 2 to 4 months after treatment significantly predicted stress levels 4 months after treatment, and formal and informal practice time from 4 to 6 months after treatment significantly predicted stress levels 6 month after treatment. At the between-person level, formal and informal practice times were not significantly related to stress levels over the follow-up period.
Overall, the present findings highlight the potential importance of post-intervention practice and suggest that higher practice engagement 2 to 6 months after MBSR training predicts lower levels of subsequent stress. Results are discussed in the context of mindfulness theory and MBSR training curriculum.