Characterization of the Association Between Mindfulness, Metapersonal Awareness, and Mental Health Outcomes

Kristen Lovio | 2021

Advisor: Walter A. Kukull

Research Area(s): Clinical Epidemiology, Psychiatric Epidemiology

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Introduction: Depression and anxiety are increasing common mental health conditions in the United States. Interventions intended to improve mindfulness are often utilized to treat and prevent depression and anxiety. This study aimed to improve the understanding of how mindfulness improves mental health outcomes by analyzing metapersonal awareness (a selfconstrual characterized by feeling connected to all things) as a mediator between mindfulness and mental health outcomes.
Methods: Cross-sectional demographic and survey data was collected on 1,512 college students and amazon Mechanical TURK participants. All participants were over 18 and American English speakers. 1,086 surveys met inclusion criteria for analysis (survey completed within reading rate of under 300 words per minute). The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) was used to measure mindfulness. The Metapersonal Self Scale (MPS) was used to
measure metapersonal awareness. The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) was used to measure both total mental distress, and depression, anxiety, and stress, separately. Mediation analysis was performed using FFMQ as the predictor, MPS as the mediator, and DASS total as well as the subscale scores for depression, anxiety, and stress as the outcomes. Stratified analyses were performed by age (younger than 25 vs. 25 and older) and by gender.
Results: Mindfulness was positively correlated with metapersonal awareness, and negatively correlated with both DASS total and individual outcomes. When not adjusted for mindfulness, metapersonal awareness was negatively correlated with overall mental distress and depression. After adjustment for FFMQ, metapersonal awareness became positively associated with anxiety, overall mental distress, and stress. No evidence was found for metapersonal awareness as a mediator between mindfulness and mental health outcomes.
Discussion: The absence of mediation found in this analysis may be due to temporality issues as cross-sectional data was used. Future studies should focus on how metapersonal awareness and mental health outcomes change overtime in response to interventions.