Research with mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) has found participating in an MBP to predict beneficial outcomes; however, there is currently mixed research regarding the most helpful dose. This review aimed to determine whether different doses related to MBPs significantly predict outcomes.
Systematic literature searches of electronic databases and trial registration sites for all randomized controlled trials of MBPs identified 203 studies (N = 15,971). Depression was the primary outcome at post-program and follow-up, with secondary outcomes being mindfulness, anxiety and stress. Doses examined related to session numbers, duration and length, facilitator contact and practice. Dose-response relationships were analyzed using meta-regression in R with separate analyses for inactive and active controls.
Initial meta-analyses found significant between-group differences favoring MBPs for all outcomes. Meta-regression results suggested significant dose-response relationships for the mindfulness outcome for doses relating to face-to-face contact (d = 0.211; C.I.[0.064,0.358]), program intensity (d = 0.895; C.I.[0.315,1.474]) and actual program use (d = 0.013; C.I.[0.001,0.024]). The majority of results for psychological outcomes, including depression, were not significant.
This meta-regression examines dose-response relationships for different types and doses relating to MBPs. Considered together, MBPs appeared helpful compared with controls, supporting previous research. Based on meta-regression results, there was no evidence that larger doses are more helpful than smaller doses for predicting psychological outcomes; a finding consistent with some previous research particularly with non-clinical populations. Additionally, greater contact, intensity and actual use of MBPs predicting increased mindfulness correspond with previous research and theory. Potential limitations and recommendations for future research are explored.