Internet-based mindfulness meditation for cognition and mood in older adults: A pilot study

Helana Wahbeh, Elena Goodrich, Barry S. Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Context • Older adults are at risk for greater chronic stress and cognitive decline. Training in mindfulness meditation (MM) may help reduce stress and, thus, cognitive decline in older adults, but little research has explored that hypothesis. Objective • The current study’s primary aim was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability for use by older adults of the Internet Mindfulness Meditation Intervention (IMMI), a program that had been developed by the research team, as well as of an Internet-based health-andwellness education program, the control. The secondary aim was to collect preliminary pre- and postintervention data on mood and cognitive function. Design • The study was a randomized, controlled trial (RCT), a pilot study, with participants randomized either to the meditation group or the education group. Setting • Participants obtained access to the programs from their homes, and the baseline and endpoint assessments occurred in their homes as well. Participants • Older adults aged 65-90 y were recruited from the Portland, OR, metropolitan area. Twenty-one people enrolled in the study. Intervention • Participants in both groups took part in a 1-h online session each week for 6 wk, with 30 min of daily home practice. Outcome Measures • Feasibility and acceptability were assessed through measures of adherence to the protocol and a client satisfaction questionnaire. Mood and cognitive outcomes were also evaluated before and after the interventions. Results • Sixteen participants completed the study, 8 in each group, and 5 dropped out, for a 76% completion rate. Participants’ mean age was 76.2 y; 88% were Caucasian, and 50% were female. Acceptability was high for the interventions, based on above-average scores on the client satisfaction questionnaire. The IMMI participants completed (1) 4.25 ± 2.4 sessions, with a range of 0-6; (2) 604 ± 506 home-practice minutes, with a range 0-1432; and (3) 21.3 ± 15.5 d of practice, with a range of 0-46. The education group completed (1) 4.75 ± 1.8 sessions, with a range of 2-6; (2) 873 ± 395 home-practice minutes, with a range of 327-1524; and (3) 25.6 d of practice, with a range of 11-35. The intervention and control formats were both feasible, and the control group was appropriate. As expected due to the pilot nature of the study, no differences existed between groups for the mood or cognitive outcomes. Conclusions • Administering interventions via the Internet to older adults is feasible. The 2 interventions were acceptable to participants and equal with regard to perceived credibility and acceptability. Future RCTs are planned to evaluate the clinical efficacy of the 2 interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalAlternative therapies in health and medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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