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Can we respond mindfully to distressing voices? A systematic review of evidence for engagement, acceptability, effectiveness and mechanisms of change for mindfulness-based interventions for people distressed by hearing voices

By Clara Strauss, Neil Thomas and Mark Hayward


Adapted mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) could be of benefit for people distressed by hearing voices. This paper presents a systematic review of studies exploring this possibility and we ask five questions: (1) Is trait mindfulness associated with reduced distress and disturbance in relation to hearing voices? (2) Are MBIs feasible for people distressed by hearing voices? (3) Are MBIs acceptable and safe for people distressed by hearing voices? (4) Are MBIs effective at reducing distress and disturbance in people distressed by hearing voices? (5) If effective, what are the mechanisms of change through which MBIs for distressing voices work? Fifteen studies were identified through a systematic search (n = 479). In relation to the five review questions: (1) data from cross-sectional studies showed an association between trait mindfulness and distress and disturbance in relation to hearing voices; (2) evidence from qualitative studies suggested that people distressed by hearing voices could engage meaningfully in mindfulness practice; (3) MBIs were seen as acceptable and safe; (4) there were no adequately powered RCTs allowing conclusions about effectiveness to be drawn; and (5) it was not possible to draw on robust empirical data to comment on potential mechanisms of change although findings from the qualitative studies identified three potential change processes; (i) reorientation of attention; (ii) decentring; and (iii) acceptance of voices. This review provided evidence that MBIs are engaging, acceptable, and safe. Evidence for effectiveness in reducing distress and disturbance is lacking however. We call for funding for adequately powered RCTs that will allow questions of effectiveness, maintenance of effects, mechanisms of change and moderators of outcome to be definitively addressed

Topics: B
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Year: 2015
OAI identifier:

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