How Do Mindfulness-Based Interventions Work? Strategies for Studying Mechanisms of Change in Clinical Research

  • Tory Eisenlohr-Moul
  • Jessica R. Peters
  • Ruth A. Baer


Randomized controlled trials of mindfulness-based interventions have demonstrated beneficial effects of treatment across a variety of disorders (Keng et al., Clin Psych Rev 31:1041-1056, 2011). More research is needed to determine the mechanisms through which these treatments improve psychological functioning. This chapter provides a variety of concrete recommendations for conducting methodologically rigorous studies, including design, sample, psychometric, and statistical considerations. Because reliable and valid assessment of mindfulness is critical to research on mechanisms of change, we review the available tools for measuring trait and state mindfulness processes. In addition, a brief review of treatment-based mediational studies is included, revealing the need for more theory-based, systematic exploration of mediational pathways. By optimizing and standardizing methods in this area of research, clinical scientists can hasten accumulation of knowledge about how mindfulness-based interventions work.


Mediation analysis Mindfulness-based interventions Mindfulness Measures of mindfulness Mechanisms of mindfulness Recommendations research design 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tory Eisenlohr-Moul
    • 1
  • Jessica R. Peters
    • 2
  • Ruth A. Baer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentucKYLexingtonUSA

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