meditation & Telomeres -
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meditation & Telomeres -

Test your knowledge on the study by T.Jacobs et al. (2011) which explores the effects of a 3-month meditation retreat on telomeres in a unique population. Learn about the recruitment process, demographics, and meditation experience of the participants.

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@ModernHeliotrope

Questions and Answers

What was the primary outcome measure in the study?

Telomerase activity

Which of the following personality traits was most strongly associated with increases in telomerase activity?

Neuroticism

What was the purpose of the control group in this study design?

To measure changes in telomerase activity over time without any intervention

Which psychological variable was most strongly associated with increases in telomerase activity?

<p>All of the above were equally associated</p> Signup and view all the answers

What does the term 'stratification' refer to in the context of this study?

<p>Dividing participants into different groups based on their meditation experience</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the relationship between sense of purpose and stress resilience?

<p>Sense of purpose increases stress resilience through more flexible coping.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the connection between meaning and perceived stress according to the text?

<p>Greater meaning is associated with lower perceived stress.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is a key characteristic of the 'health-behaviour cycles' described in the text?

<p>They activate bodily resources resulting in gratifying outcomes.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is a key requirement for the 'do-able starting point' of the 'health-behaviour cycles'?

<p>The starting point must be small changes that 'everyone can do'.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the role of telomeres in the 'health-behaviour cycles' described in the text?

<p>Telomere extension may be the final 'link' in the 'chain of healthy interactions'.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the primary objective of the study described in the text?

<p>To examine the effects of a 3-month meditation retreat on telomere length in a population of dedicated meditators.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the purpose of the stratification in the study design?

<p>To ensure that the retreat and waitlist control groups were matched on key demographic characteristics.</p> Signup and view all the answers

Which of the following criteria was NOT used to screen and select participants for the study?

<p>No previous experience with meditation or mindfulness practices.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the approximate total duration of the meditation retreat for participants in the study?

<p>Between 504 and 588 hours.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the purpose of the psychological assessments at pre and post-retreat in the study?

<p>To assess participants' psychological well-being and meditation experience</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the main focus of Ryff’s Well-Being Scale used in the study?

<p>Measuring six dimensions of psychological function, including Purpose in Life and Environmental Mastery</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the purpose of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) in the study?

<p>To measure different aspects of mindfulness, including observing experience and acting with attentional awareness</p> Signup and view all the answers

Why were post-retreat psychological assessments completed within 2 days of blood sample collection?

<p>To link changes in telomerase activity with immediate psychological responses</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the primary objective of the meetings held in mornings/evenings for guided meditations & discussion?

<p>To provide opportunities for guided meditation sessions and discussions on their experiences</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the purpose of 'randomization within strata' in research design?

<p>To create precise groupings of subjects for comparison.</p> Signup and view all the answers

How were control participants compensated in the study described in the text?

<p>Given monetary compensation for participating in assessments and travel.</p> Signup and view all the answers

Why were control participants on-site for 5 days before PBMC collection?

<p>To adjust to the setting and altitude of the retreat location.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the benefit of compensating retreat participants for participation in assessments at $20/hour?

<p>To align their compensation with control group participants.</p> Signup and view all the answers

How does 'stratification' contribute to better equivalence between compared groups in research studies?

<p>By creating pre-defined subdivisions that assist in obtaining equivalence across groups.</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the primary purpose of stratifying participants into the retreat and wait-list control groups?

<p>To ensure equal distribution of potential confounding variables between groups</p> Signup and view all the answers

Which of the following criteria was NOT used to screen and select participants for the study?

<p>Completion of a physical fitness assessment to ensure ability to participate in the retreat</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the primary method used to assess the presence of psychiatric impairments in potential participants?

<p>M.I.N.I. screen and a clinical telephone interview with a psychologist</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the approximate duration of the meditation retreat for participants in the experimental group?

<p>504 to 588 hours</p> Signup and view all the answers

What was the primary method used to match participants between the retreat and wait-list control groups?

<p>Matching based on age, sex, and years of meditation experience</p> Signup and view all the answers

Study Notes

Big Five Inventory

  • The Big Five Inventory measures major personality factors: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (O-C-E-A-N).
  • Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions and cognitions, associated with a low stress tolerance.

Telomerase and Meditation

  • Telomerase is inversely related to perceived stress (Epel et al., 2004).
  • Meditation practice reduces perceived stress (Brown and Ryan, 2003; Nyklıcke and Kuijers, 2008).
  • After intensive meditation training, retreat subjects had significantly higher telomerase activity than waitlist controls.

Psychological Improvements

  • Psychological improvements were seen in: Perceived Control, Purpose in Life, Mindfulness, and Neuroticism.
  • Changes in Mindfulness mediate changes in Perceived Control and Neuroticism.
  • Changes in Purpose in Life mediate changes in Perceived Control and Neuroticism.

Health-Behaviour Cycles

  • Health-Behaviour Cycles can be initiated and sustained through multiple health-behaviour cycles.
  • Three criteria for introduction of multiple health-behaviour cycles:
    • Do-able starting point with small changes that build to larger changes.
    • Activation of bodily wisdoms/resources resulting in gratifying outcomes.
    • Scientifically verifiable, not just due to placebo responses.

Meditation Retreat Study

  • Study population: 60 participants, matched on demographics and meditation experience, randomized to on-site 3-month meditation retreat or wait-list control.
  • Participants recruited through ads in meditation centers, Buddhist magazines, and Buddhist websites.
  • Inclusion criteria: age between 21-70y, agreement to refrain from alcohol/tobacco/recreational drugs, availability for testing, and willingness to be allocated to either wait-list control group or retreat group.

Select and Unusual Population

  • Participants were dedicated meditators with previous participation in 3 or more 5-10 day meditation retreats.
  • Population was stratified by sex, age, and years of meditation experience.

Meditation Practices

  • Meditation practices included: Cultivation of attentional skills (Mindfulness of Breath; Open Awareness) and Generation of benevolent mental states (Loving-kindness Meditation).
  • Participants primarily did solitary meditation sessions for ~6.3 hours/day.

Psychological Assessments

  • Psychological assessments were conducted at pre- and post-retreat using Ryff's Well-Being Scale, Mindfulness Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and other self-report measures.
  • Assessments were completed within 2 days of blood sample collection, and follow-up home-based assessments were completed at 5 months following retreat.

Population Demographics

  • Population had higher SES, with mean education in years = 4.8 vs. 5.2 and mean income > 70K/yr USD in 2011.
  • Retreat participants were subsidized for room and board, but were compensated for participation in assessments.
  • Control participants were flown to the retreat before, during, and after the retreat to undergo assessments, and were compensated for participation and travel.

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