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Mindfulness Intervention with African-American Caregivers at a Head Start Program: An Acceptability and Feasibility Study

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Caregiver psychological distress is a critical determinant of child developmental outcomes and increased risk for child psychopathology. An emerging literature on mindfulness-based interventions for caregivers has demonstrated the potential to enhance caregiver coping abilities. However, scant literature exists on the feasibility and acceptability of mindfulness interventions in African-American communities. The goal of the current study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a mindfulness-based group intervention for African-American caregivers of young children attending a Head Start Center. We also examined pre- and post-intervention measures related to caregiver mental health to assess the promise of this intervention for generating meaningful clinical outcomes.


We conducted a mixed method, single-arm implementation study combining semi-structured focus groups, participant exit interviews, and quantitative measures related to mental health symptoms, parenting, and mindfulness.


Our findings support the feasibility and acceptability of using mindfulness with predominantly African-American caregivers of young children attending a Head Start early learning program. Study participants cited a range of benefits in interviews including improvements in mindfulness, and psychological distress. Significant pre- to post-improvements in piloted measures were identified including sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, trauma symptoms, and negative and positive affect.


These results provide preliminary support for the use of a mindfulness-based approach for African-American families, though more research is needed to determine the effectiveness.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request to the author, CD. The data are not publicly available due to their containing information that could compromise the privacy of research participants.


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The authors thank all of the staff at Educare, DC, for their leadership and input.


This work was funded by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and analysis were performed by Erin Mathis and Amanda Shapiro. Data collection was conducted by Jay Hawkins and Dominique Charlot-Swilley. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Erin Mathis with formative input from Travis Spencer, Satyani McPherson, Amanda Shapiro, J. Corey Williams, and Matthew Biel. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew G. Biel.

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Conflict of Interest

Jay Hawkins sits on the board of directors for a BIPOC mindfulness teacher training program (BIPOC-MTTP). All other authors declare they have no relevant financial interests.

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Social and Behavioral Sciences Committee at Georgetown University School of Medicine (ID: 2016–1548).

Consent to Participate

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

Use of Artificial Intelligence.

AI was not used.

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Mathis, E.T., Hawkins, J., Charlot-Swilley, D. et al. Mindfulness Intervention with African-American Caregivers at a Head Start Program: An Acceptability and Feasibility Study. Mindfulness (2024).

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