Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 251–260 | Cite as

The association between mindfulness and emotional distress in adults with diabetes: Could mindfulness serve as a buffer? Results from Diabetes MILES: The Netherlands

  • Jenny van Son
  • Ivan NyklíčekEmail author
  • Giesje Nefs
  • Jane Speight
  • Victor J. Pop
  • François Pouwer


People with diabetes have a higher risk of emotional distress (anxiety, depression) than non-diabetic or healthy controls. Therefore, identification of factors that can decrease emotional distress is relevant. The aim of the present study was to examine (1) the association between facets of mindfulness and emotional distress; and (2) whether mindfulness might moderate the association between potential adverse conditions (stressful life events and comorbidity) and emotional distress. Analyses were conducted using cross-sectional data (Management and Impact for Long-term Empowerment and Success—Netherlands): 666 participants with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) completed measures of mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form; FFMQ-SF), depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire; PHQ-9), and anxiety symptoms (General Anxiety Disorder assessment; GAD-7). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed significant associations between mindfulness facets (acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting) and symptoms of anxiety and depression (β = −0.20 to −0.33, all p < 0.001). These mindfulness facets appeared to have a moderating effect on the association between stressful life events and depression and anxiety (all p < 0.01). However, the association between co-morbidity and emotional distress was largely not moderated by mindfulness. In conclusion, mindfulness is negatively related to both depression and anxiety symptoms in people with diabetes and shows promise as a potentially protective characteristic against the influence of stressful events on emotional well-being.


Anxiety Comorbidity Depression Diabetes Mindfulness Stressful life event(s) 



This study was supported by the Prof. Dr. J. Terpstra Young Investigator Award 2010 from the Dutch Association for Diabetes Research (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Diabetes Onderzoek)/Lilly Diabetes, awarded to Dr. Giesje Nefs. We would like to thank all people with diabetes who participated in Diabetes MILES—The Netherlands. In addition, we would like to thank the Dutch Diabetes Association and the Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation for their valuable assistance in the recruitment of participants.

Conflict of interest

The authors Van Son, Nyklíček, Nefs, Speight, Pop, and Pouwer declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenny van Son
    • 1
  • Ivan Nyklíček
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giesje Nefs
    • 1
  • Jane Speight
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Victor J. Pop
    • 1
  • François Pouwer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic Diseases (CoRPS)Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in DiabetesMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research, School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  4. 4.AHP ResearchHornchurchUK

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