Date Approved

4-24-2020

Embargo Period

4-27-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Greeson, Jeffrey

Second Advisor

Arigo, Danielle

Third Advisor

Fife, Dustin

Subject(s)

Mindfulness (Psychology); Stress (Physiology)

Disciplines

Cardiology | Clinical Psychology

Abstract

Theoretical models of mindfulness suggest that meditation may improve health, in part, by regulating stress physiology, including faster recovery of heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (SBP/DBP) after emotional stress. Furthermore, improved cardiovascular recovery (CR) may be a marker of equanimity, defined as increased acceptance of and reduced reactivity to stress. No studies have tested this hypothesis, partly because methodology for assessing CR remains controversial. Using a novel operationalization of equanimity and several methods of measuring CR, this project investigated whether (1) equanimity is associated with improved CR, (2) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is associated with improved CR, and (3) increased equanimity following MBSR partly explains improved CR. Using a pretest-posttest repeated measures design, 56 healthy adults completed MBSR bracketed by stress testing. HR, SBP and DBP recovery were calculated using simple change scores, residualized change scores, and percent recovery. GLMs showed (1) no association between equanimity and CR, (2) improved BP recovery following MBSR, but only when CR was measured using simple change scores, and (3) that equanimity explained a small amount of the variance in BP recovery following MBSR but was not a statistically significant predictor. Results have important implications for statistical conclusions validity in stress recovery research and ultimately contradict theoretical models predicting faster physiological recovery from emotional stress following mindfulness training.

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