A randomized controlled trial of the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on anxiety symptoms and systolic blood pressure in Chinese nursing students

Yu Chen, Xueling Yang, Liyuan Wang, Xiaoyuan Zhang
Nurse Education Today 2013, 33 (10): 1166-72

BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggested that mindfulness meditation effectively reduced stress-related anxiety and depression symptoms, but no research has evaluated the efficacy of mindfulness meditation in nurses and nursing students in China.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on the anxiety and depression symptoms and autonomic nervous system activity in Chinese nursing students.

DESIGN: A randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: A medical university in Guangzhou, China.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred and five nursing students were randomly approached by email and seventy-two responded. Sixty recruited students were randomized into meditation and control group (n=30 each) after screening and exclusion due to factors known to influence mood ratings and autonomic nervous system measures.

METHODS: The meditation group performed mindfulness meditation 30 min daily for 7 consecutive days. The control group received no intervention except pre-post treatment measurements. The Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Depression Scale were administered to participants, and heart rate and blood pressure were measured. Pre- and post-treatment data were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance.

RESULTS: Differences between pre- and post-treatment Self-Rating Anxiety Scale scores were significantly larger in the meditation group than in the control group, but no similar effect was observed for Self-Rating Depression Scale scores. Systolic blood pressure was reduced more after the intervention in the meditation group than in the control group, with an average reduction of 2.2 mmHg. A moderate level of anxiety was associated with the maximum meditation effect.

CONCLUSIONS: Brief mindfulness meditation was beneficial for Chinese nursing students in reducing anxiety symptoms and lowering systolic blood pressure. Individuals with moderate anxiety are most likely to benefit from a short-term mindfulness meditation program.


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