Can mindfulness and acceptance be learnt by self-help?: A systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness and acceptance-based self-help interventions

  • Cavanagh K
  • Strauss C
  • Forder L
 et al. 
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There is growing evidence that mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions have positive consequences for psychological and physical health. The most well-established of these interventions typically involve relatively large resource commitments, in terms of both the provider and participant. A number of recent studies have begun to explore whether the benefits of such interventions can be generalised to less intensive methods. Methods include pure and guided self-help utilising resources such as books and workbooks, computer programmes and applications and audio-visual materials. This paper presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that have evaluated the effectiveness and acceptability of low-intensity interventions including mindfulness and acceptance-based components. Fifteen RCTs (7 ACT-based, 4 mindfulness-based and 4 multi-component interventions including elements of mindfulness and/or acceptance) were identified and reviewed. Interventions that included mindfulness and/or acceptance-based components produced significant benefits in comparison to control conditions on measures of mindfulness/acceptance, depression and anxiety with small to medium effect sizes. Engagement with the self-help interventions varied but on average two-thirds of participants completed post-intervention measures. Emerging research into low-intensity mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions is hopeful. Recommendations for research and practice are presented. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Acceptance
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-help

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  • Kate Cavanagh

  • Clara Strauss

  • Lewis Forder

  • Fergal Jones

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