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Experiences of using digital mindfulness-based interventions: Rapid scoping review and thematic synthesis

Osborne, Emma, Ainsworth, Ben, Hooper, Nic and Atkinson, Melissa 2023. Experiences of using digital mindfulness-based interventions: Rapid scoping review and thematic synthesis. Journal of Medical Internet Research 2023 (25) , e44220. 10.2196/44220

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Background: Digital mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are a promising approach to deliver accessible and scalable mindfulness training and have been shown to improve a range of health outcomes. However, the success of digital MBIs is reliant on adequate engagement, which remains a crucial challenge. Understanding people’s experiences of using digital MBIs and identifying the core factors that facilitate or act as barriers to engagement is essential to inform intervention development and maximize engagement and outcomes. Objective: This study aims to systematically map the literature on people’s experiences of using digital MBIs that target psychosocial variables (eg, anxiety, depression, distress, and well-being) and identify key barriers to and facilitators of engagement. Methods: We conducted a scoping review to synthesize empirical qualitative research on people’s experiences of using digital MBIs. We adopted a streamlined approach to ensure that the evidence could be incorporated into the early stages of intervention development. The search strategy identified articles with at least one keyword related to mindfulness, digital, user experience, and psychosocial variables in their title or abstract. Inclusion criteria specified that articles must have a qualitative component, report on participants’ experiences of using a digital MBI designed to improve psychosocial variables, and have a sample age range that at least partially overlapped with 16 to 35 years. Qualitative data on user experience were charted and analyzed using inductive thematic synthesis to generate understandings that go beyond the content of the original studies. We used the Quality of Reporting Tool to critically appraise the included sources of evidence. Results: The search identified 510 studies, 22 (4.3%) of which met the inclusion criteria. Overall, the samples were approximately 78% female and 79% White; participants were aged between 16 and 69 years; and the most used measures in intervention studies were mindfulness, psychological flexibility, and variables related to mental health (including depression, anxiety, stress, and well-being). All studies were judged to be adequately reported. We identified 3 themes characterizing barriers to and facilitators of engagement: responses to own practice (ie, negative reactions to one’s own practice are common and can deplete motivation), making mindfulness a habit (ie, creating a consistent training routine is essential yet challenging), and leaning on others (ie, those engaging depend on someone else for support). Conclusions: The themes identified in this review provide crucial insights as to why people frequently stop engaging with digital MBIs. Researchers and developers should consider using person-based coparticipatory methods to improve acceptability of and engagement with digital MBIs, increase their effectiveness, and support their translation to real-world use. Such strategies must be grounded in relevant literature and meet the priorities and needs of the individuals who will use the interventions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: JMIR Publications
ISSN: 1438-8871
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 August 2023
Date of Acceptance: 1 August 2023
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 03:01

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