Can Brief Mindfulness-Based Intervention Improve Attention in Individuals With Mixed Neurological Disorders?
It is estimated that there are 12.5 million people in England living with neurological disorders (Neurological Alliance, 2014). People with neurological disorders as a result of acquired brain injury (ABI) are living with short and long-term disabilities. These include cognitive impairment, and physical and emotional distress. One of the most common complaints by individuals who have ABI is attention impairment. Attention difficulties can have serious ramifications for daily functioning. Although studies have explored the effects of evidence-based interventions such as mindfulness-based therapy on attention abilities, and have found that it improves individuals’ attention skills (Moore et al, 2012), thus far research has been conducted mainly with non-clinical populations. This study set out to investigate whether a mindfulness-based intervention could prove beneficial for people with neurological disorders, particularly whether it could positively impact on attention impairment. The study employed a one group pre-test post-test design. The intervention was adapted from the MBSR programme developed by Kabat-Zinn. Twenty-two participants with ABI were recruited. The Conners Continuous Performance Test 3rd Edition (CPT-3), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Attention Process Training-II Attention Questionnaire (APT-II AQ) and Clinical Outcome in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure (CORE-OM) were utilised to measure outcomes. The results revealed that there was a clinical improvement in self reported measures of mindfulness (MAAS) (Cohen d=0.28), attention (APT-II AQ) (Cohen d=0.33), and psychological distress (CORE-OM) (Cohen d=0.72). This was not observed using the neuropsychological test of attention (CPT-3) for overall group scores, but further evaluation showed some individuals’ scores improved. The study is promising as it indicates that mindfulness based treatment can be effective with attentional problems as well as in reducing psychological distress for individuals with ABI. This could be valuable in terms of providing treatment for this client group and adds to the expanding research base on mindfulness-based intervention with this population.