, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 1615–1626 | Cite as

Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Distress and HbA1c in People with Diabetes

  • Sue PearsonEmail author
  • Karen Wills
  • Michelle Woods
  • Emma Warnecke


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a prevalent chronic condition that is associated with a high degree of psychological distress. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel approach to delivering an intervention of mindfulness practice (IMP) to a patient population with a demonstrated need for psychological support. The novel approach utilised a self-directed audio compact disc (CD) recording of mindfulness practice. In this randomised controlled trial, 67 participants with T2DM (mean age = 59.4, standard deviation = 12.4), attending outpatient clinics, were randomised to an IMP (n = 31) or a control (n = 36) group. Participants completed written questionnaires at baseline and again at 8- and 12-week follow-ups. Primary outcome measures included depression, anxiety and stress (21-item Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale) and diabetes-specific emotional problems (Problem Areas in Diabetes Survey (PAID)). Secondary outcome measures included diabetes self-management using the Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities Scale (SDSCA), systolic and diastolic blood pressure and HbA1c. Participants receiving the IMP reported significant reductions in depression (p = 0.02) and stress (p = 0.03) when compared with the control group. At the 12-week follow-up, there was an overall reduction in depression by 4.1 units and stress by 3.4 units in the IMP group relative to the control group. There was an overall improvement in blood glucose monitoring; however, this was not significant (p = 0.06). HbA1c measures decreased significantly over the 12-week follow-up by 0.48 units (time × group interaction: p = 0.02). The current study has shown that an easily accessible self-directed IMP was effective in improving psychological symptoms of depression and stress, blood glucose monitoring and HbA1c.


Diabetes Mindfulness Randomised controlled trial Blood glucose Depression 



The authors would like to thank the School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, for funding this project.

Author Contributions

SP designed and executed the study, assisted with some data analysis, and wrote the paper. KW performed the main data analysis and collaborated with the writing of the paper. MW collaborated with the execution of the study and with the writing and editing of the paper. EW collaborated with the design, execution, writing and editing of the study.

Funding Information

This research was supported by funding from the University of Tasmania, School of Medicine, Research and Development grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in this study which involved human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Tasmania’s Human Ethics Research Committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments. All participants in the study gave written informed consent prior to their participation in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health and Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.College of Health and Medicine, Menzies Institute for Medical ResearchUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Royal Hobart Hospital Diabetes CentreHobartAustralia

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