Abstract

Introduction: Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are effective in reducing psychological distress and stress in various chronic conditions. While the GOLD 2023 report recommends MBI for COPD, scientific evidence is scarce. Given the physical limitations of COPD patients, digital interventions are particularly promising.

Aim: This pilot study investigates a) the feasibility of a brief digital MBI and b) its effects on psychological distress and stress in COPD patients.

Methods: N = 38 psychologically distressed COPD patients (63 7 years, 62% female) were randomly assigned to the MBI or waitlist control group. Patients in the MBI group performed 1 of 4 auditory-guided mindfulness exercises (10-15min, via smartphone) daily for 8 weeks. Psychological distress, stress, and secondary outcomes (e.g., fatigue) were measured at baseline, after 4 and 8 weeks. MBI?s feasibility was assessed via dropouts, usage rates and qualitative interviews (MBI group only).

Results: 21% of the sample dropped out (final sample: n = 30). Data show a usage rate of 83% and positive experiences with the MBI (e.g., 93% rate MBI as pleasant). There was a medium effect size, but no statistically significant time x group interaction for psychological distress (F (14, 16) = 3.02, p = .057, d = .66) or stress (F (13, 16) = 2.08, p = .135, d = .55).

Discussion: The digital MBI appears to be feasible and was received positively. Results suggest a trend towards improvements in psychological distress which should be explored in larger clinical trials implementing MBIs as add-on treatments.