, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 712–723 | Cite as

The Positive Effect of Mindfulness Rivals the Negative Effect of Neuroticism on Gastrointestinal Symptoms

  • Alissa P. Beath
  • Kristie McDonald
  • Thomas C. Osborn
  • Michael P. JonesEmail author


The current study evaluated a theoretically-derived model of the relationships between psychological traits (neuroticism and mindfulness) and gastrointestinal (GI) symptom burden with indirect effects via general dispositional cognitions and health-related cognitions. A sample of women (N = 210, Mage = 22.83, SDage = 9.78) completed an online questionnaire battery consisting of self-reported GI symptom burden, neuroticism, mindfulness, general cognitions (emotional intelligence, reappraisal, suppression, rumination), and health-related cognitions (gastrointestinal-specific anxiety, pain catastrophizing). Our hypotheses were tested using multiple regression, latent variable, and structural equational modeling. Both mindfulness (Beta = − .220, p = .011) and neuroticism (Beta = .234, p = .001) significantly independently predicted GI symptom burden. Additionally, these relationships were completely accounted for via indirect effects of general cognitions and health-related cognitions, supporting our hypotheses: Indirect effect of neuroticism on GI symptom burden: Beta = .228, p = .007; Indirect effect of mindfulness on symptom burden: Beta = − .308, p = .011. The findings from the current study highlight the important role of both general and health-related cognitions in the experience of GI symptom burden and support theoretical models that posit mechanisms of mindfulness via adaptive coping strategies. Given the subjective nature of symptom experience, these findings may help to explain the efficacy of psychological therapies in reducing GI symptom burden.


Functional gastrointestinal disorders Mindfulness Neuroticism Cognitions Emotion regulation 


Author Contributions

AB: co-designed the study, analyzed the data, and co-wrote and edited the manuscript. KM: co-designed the study, executed the study, assisted with data analysis, and co-wrote and edited the manuscript. TO: assisted with study design and executed the study. MJ: co-designed the study, assisted with data analysis, and collaborated in writing and editing the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research ( which is in accordance with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and relevant amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alissa P. Beath
    • 1
  • Kristie McDonald
    • 1
  • Thomas C. Osborn
    • 1
  • Michael P. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Emotional HealthMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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