Mindfulness-based interventions to support wellbeing of adults in low socio-economic settings: a realist review

Author: Sarah Foale1, Yvonne Botma2, Tanya Heyns3
1 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
2 School of Nursing, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
3 Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. tanya.heyns@up.ac.za.
Conference/Journal: BMC Complement Med Ther
Date published: 2024 Jan 24
Other: Volume ID: 24 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 52 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1186/s12906-023-04263-7. , Word Count: 353

Mindfulness as a modality involves training the innate human capacity for present-moment awareness with a view to cultivating a more harmonious and integrated life experience, especially in the face of hardship. Over the past four decades, the field of mindfulness has grown rapidly. Despite a substantial body of literature outlining the many benefits of mindfulness practice within a range of contexts and populations, the authors noticed that studies addressing the adaptation, application and value of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for adults within socio-economically challenged setting were scant. To address this gap, we conducted a realist review of studies pertaining to MBIs within low socio-economic settings, to determine the extend and nature of research in this sector and culminating in a program theory which may be useful for the design of interventions going forward.

We selected realist review as the methodology as it is well suited to investigating the complex nature of social interventions. The value of realist review is that the exploration of the causal relationships between the mechanisms (M) within a specific context (C) towards particular outcomes (O) offers a deeper understanding of the intervention which may assist in more effective delivery going forward. The review follows the guidelines presented by the Realist and Meta-narrative Evidence Synthesis - Evolving Standards project.

Of the 112 documents identified, 12 articles met the inclusion criteria. Of these 12 studies, 10 were conducted in the United States, with little representation across the rest of the globe. The interventions described in these articles were varied. We identified mechanisms that offered beneficial outcomes for participants across a range of contexts, with indications of how interventions might be adapted towards greater accessibility, acceptability, and feasibility within communities.

By reviewing the various programs in their respective contexts, we developed a program theory for implementing socio-culturally adapted MBIs in low socio-economic settings. In the future, this program theory could be tested as a means to create a sense of wellbeing for people living in low socio-economic settings.

Keywords: Adapt; Low income; Low resource; Low socio-economic; Mindfulness; Mindfulness-based intervention; Mindfulness-based stress reduction; Program theory; Realist review; Wellbeing.

PMID: 38267955 DOI: 10.1186/s12906-023-04263-7