In recent times, mindfulness-based programs have emerged as a very popular choice to support employees, and companies have invested considerably in these programs. However, mindfulness is not a ‘fix-all’. There is no evidence that mindfulness-based programs are more effective than other programs. It is therefore important that decision makers are given an accurate representation of the effectiveness of mindfulness, and that the science supporting mindfulness is correctly communicated. This project will explore what factors influence decisions to invest in mindfulness programs. Specifically, we will evaluate how confidence in mindfulness is impacted by presentation of the uncertainty regarding effects on wellbeing - that is, that mindfulness may not provide a large increase in wellbeing for everyone. We will also evaluate how confidence is impacted by social norms (i.e., everyone is doing it) attached to mindfulness.
University of Melbourne contributors:
Dr Caitlin Hitchcock, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
We have achieved much in the first six months of being awarded our seed funding, including:
Maris Vainre, University of Cambridge, has completed her visit. During this time, we planned the study, and Maris took part in wider research activities at the Centre. The visit was invaluable to enabling the research, and Maris actively contributed to promoting high quality mindfulness research in Australia (e.g., through presentations and offering methods training to Melbourne students).
We have obtained ethics approval for the study.
We are currently finalising study materials and will start recruitment in the coming weeks
Three members of the team presented at the International Congress on Mindfulness
Two undergraduate students completed summer scholarships with the team, improving the capacity for future high-quality researchers in this area
Here, team members Caitlin Hitchcock, Julieta Galente, and Maris Vainre are analysing data to evaluate the impact of a mindfulness-based program on workplace functioning. Julieta (centre) is holding our estimates of how much improvement we expected to see in the mindfulness completers, relative to individuals who completed a light physical exercise program. Our project has been exploring how the anticipated benefits of mindfulness in the workplace might be over-hyped. Perhaps then unsurprisingly, the data we analysed here showed that mindfulness did not improve workplace performance any more than light physical exercise. The remainder of our project is exploring how we might be able to ensure that people have more realistic estimates of how effective a workplace-based mindfulness program is likely to be.
We are looking for employers who might like to offer their employees the opportunity to take part in our research project. Participation takes 20 minutes, is completed online, and each participant receives $10. If you are interested in taking part yourself, or in sharing our study link with your employees, please contact Caitlin.firstname.lastname@example.org
Project lead | Dr Caitlin Hitchcock
Dr Caitlin Hitchcock is a clinical psychologist with clinical and research expertise in affective disturbance. She is currently an ARC-funded Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, and UKRI-funded Senior Scientist at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge.