At SMC we are passionate about research because research let's us know when, how and why learning mindfulness can be helpful. Most of our research looks at the potential benefits of mindfulness courses for groups of people where there isn't already good research evidence.
Please look at our team page to find out more about the SMC research team.
SMC Current Research
Researching Mindfulness Courses
We have been researching mindfulness courses for people experiencing a range of mental health difficulties including obsessive-compulsive difficulties, depression and distressing voices. Some of our research is for working age adults but we have also been doing research involving younger people and older people. Last but not least, we have been offering MBCT courses to our NHS staff for a number of years and evaluating outcomes from these courses.
Researching Mindfulness Self-help
There are a wide range of mindfulness self-help books, online courses and smartphone apps available. On the one hand, these could be a good way of extending the reach of mindfulness to people who may not be able to attend a mindfulness course. On the other hand, it is possible that learning mindfulness through self-help isn't very effective - maybe it becomes too watered down or loses its effects without a mindfulness group or mindfulness teacher being present. Our research is examining the potential of mindfulness self-help for members of the public, members of staff as well as for people experiencing mental health difficulties.
Investigating the effects of mindfulness meditation, provided by the well-known course, Headspace.
THE PROMISE STUDY (PRedictors Of MIndfulness-based Self-help Engagement) is currently unavailable as phase one of recruitment has come to a close. During this phase, we managed to exceed our original study targets. In total, 2100 staff members signed up to the study across 16 different NHS sites across England. 1939 people have currently completed the first survey, and 1127 have already completed the second so far. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all 470 of our colleagues from Sussex Partnership NHS Trust who took part in this initial phase.
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We have started to research compassion-enhanced mindfulness courses, in order to see if bringing compassion practices into our mindfulness courses might be helpful. Our compassion research has included developing a new self-report measure of compassion so that we can see if our courses help to enhance levels of compassion for self and other people. Sussex Mindfulness Centre researchers Dr Jenny Gu and Dr Clara Strauss have published the results of their study and have produced two new measurement scales, one for the self and one for others: “SOCS – the Sussex-Oxford Compassion Scales”.
The research which was undertaken in partnership between Sussex Partnership, University of Sussex and the University of Oxford conducted a review of definitions and concepts of compassion and consolidated them into a single definition. You can read more about it and download the scales here
Other current funded research studies, which contribute to the evidence base on effectiveness and safety of mindfulness, include:
- A multi site study (RESPOND) Comparing the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Treatment as Usual in Patients who are Continuing to Suffer from Depression after IAPT High-Intensity Therapy.
- randomised controlled trials of mindfulness-based self-help for healthcare staff.
- randomised controlled trials of remotely delivered MBCT programmes and of a clinician-guided MBCT self-help course for people experiencing depression.
- a feasibility study of a mindfulness-based intervention for people or people who have problems managing emotional intensity (sometimes diagnosed as borderline or emotionally unstable personality disorder). This group of people often have difficulties accessing talking therapies and clinicians often find it challenging to know how best to support them.
- a feasibility study of a mindfulness intervention for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
In addition to leading on our own research studies, we have contributed to various national mindfulness research initiatives including the ASPIRE study exploring Accessibility and Implementation of MBCT in NHS services.
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We have contributed significantly to peer-reviewed mindfulness and compassion literature, publishing findings of our research studies so that our research makes a difference beyond Sussex Mindfulness Centre. Please look at our publications to find out more.