Pediatric Cardiology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 786–795 | Cite as

A Pilot Study of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program in Adolescents with Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators or Pacemakers

  • Vicki A. FreedenbergEmail author
  • Sue A. Thomas
  • Erika Friedmann
Original Article


Adolescents with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) or pacemakers (PMs) face unique challenges that can cause psychosocial distress. Psychosocial interventions are effective for adults with cardiac devices and could potentially impact adolescents’ adjustment to these devices. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a structured psycho-educational program that includes meditation, yoga, and group support and has been studied extensively among adults. This study examined the feasibility of the MBSR program for adolescents with ICDs/PMs, a population previously unexamined in the research literature. The participants completed measures of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and coping (Responses to Stress Questionnaire) at baseline and after the six-session MBSR intervention. Mean age of the cohort (n = 10) was 15 ± 3 years, 6 were male, 6 had a PM, and 4 had an ICD. Feasibility was demonstrated by successful recruitment of 10 participants, 100 % participation and completion. Anxiety decreased significantly following the intervention, with a large effect size, t[9] = 3.67, p < .01, ŋ 2 = .59. Anxiety frequency decreased from baseline to post-intervention (Fisher’s exact test p = .024), and 90 % of participants reported decreased anxiety scores post-intervention. Coping skills related negatively to anxiety (r = −.65, p = .04) and depression (r = −.88, p = .001). Post-intervention, the group independently formed their own Facebook group and requested to continue meeting monthly. Although generalizability is limited due to the small sample size, this successful pilot study paves the way for larger studies to examine the efficacy of MBSR interventions in adolescents with high-risk cardiac diagnoses.


Adolescent Cardiac Anxiety Pacemaker Implantable cardioverter defibrillator 



The authors thank Kristen Rawlett, RN, MSN, FNP-BC for her assistance during the data collection phase of the study. The authors would also like to thank Pamela Hinds, PhD, RN for her expertise and help during the editing process. This pilot study was funded in part by a Grant from the University of Maryland School of Nursing Foundation, PhD Nursing Research Fund.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicki A. Freedenberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sue A. Thomas
    • 2
  • Erika Friedmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of CardiologyChildren’s National Health SystemWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Maryland School of NursingBaltimoreUSA

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