Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Gender and Mindfulness Therapy
The HWS Update
Ashdown Brian Classroom-0052

Gender and Mindfulness Therapy

Bodenios Jamie Classroom-0116In a new issue of the scholarly journal Mindfulness, an article coauthored by HWS psychology professors and recent graduates examines how well randomized clinical trials examining the efficacy of mindfulness-based treatments represent both males and females.

In “Male Representation in Randomized Clinical Trials of Mindfulness-Based Therapies,” Associate Professor Jamie Bodenlos, Kathryn Strang ’16, Amanda Faherty ’15, Rosalind Gray-Bauer ’16 and Assistant Professor Brien Ashdown observe a consistent increase in the use of mindfulness-based treatments for health issues and psychological disorders. Given the popularity of these treatments, it’s critical to closely examine the empirical work that supports their use. They identify the importance of making sure these treatments are efficacious for all groups of individuals and that the samples in clinical trials aren’t biased.

Furthermore, they write, “empirical evidence indicates that these treatments are effective. However, it is possible that these scientific investigations of mindfulness-based treatments have not been conducted with representative samples. In particular, it seems like most participants in these studies are female.”

Their systematic review of 117 empirical articles about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction shows a remarkable disparity in the gender of participants, with males accounting for less than 29 percent. Their findings “suggest that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness-based treatments is based on non-representative samples, and future research should work to correct this.”

In addition to their involvement analyzing the data and writing the manuscript, Faherty, Gray-Bauer and Strang helped “in identifying and locating articles that met inclusion criteria for the systematic review and going through each article to gather data we needed for the study,” says Bodenlos.

“The students were involved from the beginning,” says Ashdown, noting the system Strang and Gray-Bauer helped develop to manage the scope of the project as they organized the articles. Faherty, who is now a doctoral candidate in psychology at Clark University, was instrumental in helping Ashdown and Bodenlos analyze the data and draft the article, which Strang and Gray-Bauer helped edit and polish for publication.

For these recent graduates, the process offered experience in collaborative research and analytical and communications skills that will be crucial as they pursue ambitions in the field.