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Title: Mindfulness and eating : an exploration of effects and mediators
Author: Jenkins, Kimberley
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2013
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Mindfulness meditation is increasingly being incorporated into psychotherapeutic interventions. However, whilst much research has addressed the question of whether mindfulness-based interventions work, less has been directed at how they work. The current thesis describes four studies that explored potential mechanisms by which mindfulness interventions may bring about change. Study 1 employed a correlational design to examine whether mindfulness practice is associated with increased attentional control. Studies 2 to 4 used experimental methods to examine the ways in which individual mindfulness-based techniques might exert their effects on a health- related behaviour (chocolate consumption). Study 1 (N=125) showed no evidence that meditation practice was associated with reduced attentional bias (assessed using dot-probe and emotional Stroop tasks). Study 2 (N=135) showed that a cognitive defusion task (but not an acceptance task) helped individuals to resist chocolate over a five-day period. There was evidence to indicate that the defusion task worked by interrupting automatic links between chocolate-related thoughts and chocolate consumption. Study 3 (N=108). however, failed to find evidence that the defusion strategy worked either by reducing automaticity or increasing the accessibility of competing goals. Study 4 (N=60) further showed that the defusion strategy did not influence chocolate cravings. In conclusion, the current research demonstrated the need to go beyond merely describing the positive effects of mindfulness on changing self-control related behaviours. The findings also highlighted the potential problems of current mindfulness-based interventions due to their complexity, and that one mindfulness-based intervention does not 'fit' all health-related behaviours to bring about change. Ensuring the population maintains a healthy diet is important. Brief mindfulness training may be a useful means of helping people choose more healthy options. Further dismantling design studies were however advised before the evidence can be used to inform public health policy and services.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy ; Psychology--Research