Bryan, S., Hamilton, M., & Finn, E. (2018) Mindfulness meditation in college students to advance health equity. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, Special Issue: Health Benefits of Meditation Manuscript online
Purpose: High levels of mindfulness correspond with some positive health behaviors such as exercise participation, fruit and vegetable intake, and effective stress management. This study provided mindfulness meditation during an academic semester to a group of predominantly minority college students derived from a population in which 77.9% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged, to assess the effects of mindful meditation on various health behaviors and mindfulness to combat avoidable health inequalities.
Methods: The meditation occurred for eight weeks, twice per week for 30 minutes; the control group did no meditation. Data collection tools included Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Mindful Eating Scale (MES), 7-Day Physical Activity Questionnaire and a self- reported daily fruit and vegetable intake. Two open-ended questions were posed post-test.
Results: 43 undergraduate students completed the pre and post-test data, with 81.4% self-identifying as non-white. Analysis revealed a significant within and between subjects increase in mindfulness with FFMQ (p < 0.002) and (p < 0.000) respectively; a significant between-subjects cross-over effect with MES, (p < 0.023); a significant between and within group effect with fruit and vegetable intake (p < 0.040); and a nonsignificant trend in physical activity: the intervention group’s physical activity increased and control group’s decreased (p < 0.057). Qualitative data revealed that participants were sleeping better, eating better, exercising more, reacting less, knowing themselves better, and enjoying an elevated mood.
Conclusions: Mindfulness meditation is an effective intervention in a group of primarily non-white college students and may be an effective strategy in the fight against avoidable health inequities.