The first study -- comparing the MAWA to a waitlist control condition -- is done and we are writing up the results. The second study comparing the MAWA to the Cognitive and Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety is near completed too. I hope to share the full results of both studies here too, once we write up the findings and submit them for publication.
In the meantime, I have been presenting the findings at scientific meetings, and most recently at the World Congress of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science in Reno NV. A colleague, Dr. Brian Thompson, attended the presentations and wrote a blog post about what he learned. I thought to share his blog post here in case you might be interested. You can check out his blog at Scientific Mindfulness.
With a Kind Heart
John P. Forsyth, Ph.D.
Monday, June 28, 2010
John presented data from two studies. In the first study, he gave out free copies of his book through a website to participants who agreed to be randomly assigned to either receive his book immediately, or to receive it after being part of a 12-week waitlist condition. Participants were assessed before receiving the book, after 12-weeks, and at 3 and 6-month follow-ups. At the end of 12-weeks, compared to the waitlist, participants who used the book showed dramatic improvements in anxiety, depression, worry, social anxiety, and even PTSD. What's especially interesting about this is that anxiety decreased even though the book's emphasis is on improving one's life through cultivation of mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion rather than on getting rid of anxiety (and depression is not really addressed to my recollection). Readers of the book had significant increases in mindfulness, self-compassion, and quality of life that were maintained over the 3 and 6-month follow-ups. The same pattern happened for people who used the book after getting off the waitlist. Another remarkable thing about this study is that about half the participants were currently in psychotherapy and/or taking meds, suggesting that the book contributed to improvements above and beyond individual treatment. Nearly everyone (91%) had been in therapy before.
In a second study that is still underway, John used a similar design to compare his book to The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety, a respected workbook by William J. Knaus. John's lab is still collecting follow-up data, but results are showing that, although both books appear effective, people using the Mindfulness workbook are showing greater outcomes on virtually all measures.
I think these studies are great for several reasons. For one, the market is filled with self-help books but rarely are they evaluated to determine if people actually find them helpful. Two, this is the most naturalistic study I've seen, as participants have no additional interaction with John's lab except to complete the online outcome assessments. Some other studies I've seen involve occasional interaction with someone from the lab to help people with a book, but in these studies, people are largely left to their own devices. Lastly, this study is very brave in that John risked finding: 1.) that his book was not helpful after all; 2.) that his book was helpful, but not as helpful as the Cognitive Behavioral workbook. Instead, his commitment to science has paid off for him in a big way. This book is a great illustration of how cultivation of mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion can really improve our lives.
Here's the website: www.actforanxiety.com
Here's the book:
Forsyth, J. P., Eifert, G. H. (2008). The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free of Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.