Association of mindfulness to resilience, anxiety, and depressive symptoms after spinal cord injury—a correlational study

Abstract

Study design

Online survey of individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Objective

This pilot study examined associations between mindfulness factors, resilience, and levels of depression and anxiety after SCI.

Setting

Community-based; United States.

Methods

A survey was posted online and shared with individuals with recent SCI (≤5 years).

Results

Thirty-four individuals responded to the survey. The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) measures mindfulness with the following subscales: observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity of inner experience. Nonjudgment of inner experience was significantly associated with depression (β = −0.74, p = 0.007) and anxiety (β = −0.60, p = 0.01). Nonreactivity to inner experience was significantly associated with anxiety (β = −0.57, p = 0.007) and resilience (β = 0.55, p = 0.004); and there was a trend with depression (β = −0.45, p = 0.07). Higher resilience was significantly associated with less anxiety (r = −0.62, p = 0.04) and less depression (r = −0.75, p < 0.001). Depression and anxiety were significantly correlated (r = 0.84, p < 0.001). When comparing those who are employed to those who are not, they differed significantly in terms of anxiety (t(32) = 2.53, p = 0.02).

Conclusions

These findings suggest that factors of mindfulness, specifically the practice of acting nonjudgmentally and nonreactively to one’s inner experience, may act as protective factors against depression and anxiety following SCI. These preliminary data support the literature that individuals with lower resilience are more susceptible to depression following SCI. Interventions aimed at maximizing mental well-being following SCI may benefit from incorporating these factors of mindfulness practice.

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Correspondence to Alexandra L. Terrill.

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Pincock, J.S., Terrill, A.L. Association of mindfulness to resilience, anxiety, and depressive symptoms after spinal cord injury—a correlational study. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 6, 7 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41394-020-0256-y

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