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Disclosures: Ainsworth reports receiving speaker fees from AstraZeneca, serving on an advisory panel for Roche and serving as a member of the Taskforce for Lung Health. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
September 30, 2021
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Mindfulness app may help improve asthma symptoms, quality of life

Disclosures: Ainsworth reports receiving speaker fees from AstraZeneca, serving on an advisory panel for Roche and serving as a member of the Taskforce for Lung Health. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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A digital mindfulness intervention was feasible and associated with benefits in quality of life among adults with asthma, according to data published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

“This is one of the first studies to look at whether digital mindfulness interventions, such as ‘Headspace’, can offer promise for the 12% of the U.K. population that have asthma,” Ben Ainsworth, PhD, associate professor in health psychology at the University of Bath, United Kingdom, said in a university press release.

Mindfulness intervention for asthma
Data were derived from Ainsworth B, et al. J Behavior Med. 2021;doi:10.1007/s10865-021-00249-3.

Ainsworth and colleagues conducted a prospective, randomized controlled feasibility trial that included 116 adults with asthma from 16 primary care practices in the U.K. (mean age, about 50 years). Participants were randomly assigned to a digital mindfulness intervention that involved using the Headspace app on their smartphone (n = 73) or a control group that was given access to the app after the study period ended (n = 43). Participants were asked to complete questionnaires about asthma symptom control, asthma-related quality of life, anxiety and depression at baseline, 6 weeks and 3 months.

A total of 2,277 recorded individual sessions using the mindfulness intervention were recorded. Researchers observed variance in use of the app; 26 participants never used the app, 26 used it one to nine times, 23 used it 10 to 49 times and 18 used it 50 times or more. The average session length was 7.2 minutes.

At 3 months, participants in the intervention group reported significantly improved asthma-related quality of life compared with their baseline reports (mean difference = 0.15; 95% CI, –0.13 to 0.42).

There were no significant improvement in subdomain scores of asthma symptoms and asthma control at 6 weeks and 3 months between the groups. In addition, there were no significant differences in anxiety, mindful awareness, mindful acceptance or medication adherence scores between the groups. However, compared with the control group, participants in the intervention group reported significantly lower depression scores at 6 weeks (median = 1.34; 95% CI, –2.29 to –0.39) and 3 months (median = 1.63; 95% CI, –2.48 to –0.77).

The researchers noted several limitations of the study, including its lack of exploration of long-term evidence of benefit, participants were not blinded to their group allocation and the remote nature of the study.

Moreover, according to the researchers, further research in this area should adapt generic mindfulness-based stress-reduction to maximize its effectiveness and validate these findings.

“Although these findings need to be confirmed with a large-scale randomized controlled trial, our study does suggest that some people may find it really useful (whilst others may not),” Ainsworth said in the release. “It’s important to recognize that mindfulness is not something to use instead of medication; rather, it could be an effective adjunct therapy for people who are looking for something more to help.”

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