Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on College Student Anxiety: a Meta-Analysis


College student anxiety is a rising recurrent problem. It is the foremost diagnosed and treated mental health condition and has many negative consequences, including attrition and course failure. Mindfulness meditation (MM) is an approach to anxiety reduction comprised of self-regulation and orientation. Meta-analyses have been conducted on MM with adults and children, but not with college age students who are unique in that they have a distinctive set of stressors. Therefore, we examined the effects of MM on anxiety in college students by conducting a meta-analysis. We searched 11 electronic databases, hand searched select journals, and unpublished literature. We located 25 primary studies, providing 28 comparisons, with 1492 participants. The overall summary effect was .56 (p < .001). Major, level of study, MM practice outside of the intervention, and number of sessions moderated the effects of MM on anxiety. Future researchers should examine the specific needs of subgroups: men vs. women, and graduate vs. undergraduate students. Additionally, researchers should test interventions that fit the needs of today’s college students, by limiting outside practice and offering a minimum of eight instructor-led sessions.

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We would like to thank Dr. Kraenzle Schneider, for her time, effort, guidance, and comments through several revisions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mandy D. Bamber.

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Author Dr. Mandy Bamber declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Erin Morpeth declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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Bamber, M.D., Morpeth, E. Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on College Student Anxiety: a Meta-Analysis. Mindfulness 10, 203–214 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0965-5

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  • Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Anxiety
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • State anxiety