A critical evaluation of MBSR was constructed
through a study where it was put into the school schedule in large trials for
teens and showed no evidence and even could cause anxiety problems. This large-scale
study was conducted by Catherine Johnson, Christine Burke, Sally Brickman, and
Tracey Wade to have a better randomized controlled group and a larger sample
size in which they measured the effectiveness of MBSR training in teens. There
were 308 middle and high students had an average age of 13.6, and they were
enrolled in 17 classes across 5 different schools. Like the old standards of
MBSR training for adults, these teens completed 8 weeks of training and each
class varied between 35 to 60 minutes. In addition, they were also given the
manuals and encourage to practice those learned techniques at home. A baseline
assessment was conducted before the intervention, a week after the sessions
were over a post-test measure was taken, and a follow-up assessment was
conducted three months later. The study included measures of anxiety and
depression, weight and shape concerns, well-being, emotional dysregulation,
self-compassion, and mindfulness. (May, Cindi.). All students reported their
compliance at home with the practice and evaluated the MBSR training. This
study had numerous measures before and after the intervention, but most
importantly, there were no signs of the benefits for the mindfulness group at
either the post-test or the follow-up. Results showed higher anxiety levels at
the follow up for males in the mindfulness group, and it also applied to
participants with low baseline depression and weight concerns; thus MBSR led to
increased anxiety in these students. Moreover, because many previous studies
lacked the sample size, randomized controlled group, and etc, this is a
comparably well-controlled experiment and yet it showed no benefits of MBSR at
any measures as well as presenting adverse effect such as anxiety. Thus, they
concluded that “MBSR training is not a universal solution for addressing stress
and depression in teens, nor does it qualify as a replacement for more
traditional psychotherapy, at least not as implemented in this school-based
paradigm” (May, Cindi.). On the contrary, there are limitations of this study
to keep in mind, the first is that traditional MBSR programs that have been
found effective for adults usually involve 20 to 26 hours of formal training,
one 6 hours session, 8 weekly two hours sessions and a daily 45 minute practice
at home, and because Johnson and others wanted this to fit into the school
schedule, they shrank the sessions to 30 till 65 minutes each and a total of
4.5 to 8 hours of training. The second is that students, in general, reported
poor compliance at home with the practice. In short, all of these may possibly
undercut the potential benefits of MBSR training. (May, Cindi.) Therefore, in order
to yield better results when participating in MBSR programs, intensive training
intervention and consecutive practices at home are demanded.