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Mindfulness to Improve Elders' Immune and Health Status

This study has been completed.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Jan Moynihan, University of Rochester Identifier:
First received: December 6, 2009
Last updated: August 12, 2014
Last verified: January 2014

The purpose of the study is to better understand effects of the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) program on the physical and emotional health and well-being of adults ages 65 and older.

The effects MBSR may have on the immune system is investigated, including how these effects relate to factors such as perceived health, psychological well-being, age, personality, and mood.

Condition Intervention
Stress, Psychologic Behavioral: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Mindfulness to Improve Elders' Immune and Health Status

Further study details as provided by Jan Moynihan, University of Rochester:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • IgG Anti-KLH Antibody Response Post-treatment [ Time Frame: Immediate post-treatment (time 2) ]
    Immune function--specifically, antibody response to a novel, benign antigen (an antigen to which subjects are immunologically naïve); in this case, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH).

  • Trail Making Test [ Time Frame: immediate post-treatment (Time 2) ]
    The Trail Making Test is a commonly used neuropsychological test of visual attention and task-switching. In two timed tasks, subjects are asked to first connect numbers (Test A), then alternating numbers and letters (Test B), in sequential order as quickly as possible. Completion times, relating to cognitive processing speed and executive function (respectively), may be utilized individually, and as a difference (B-A) or ratio (B/A) score. The Trails B/A ratio was used as an index of improvement in executive control throughout the trial, with lower scores indicating better performance.

  • Electroencephalography Measurement [ Time Frame: post-treatment (time 2) ]
    Measurement of alpha asymmetry at the F3/4 (frontal) electrode. Left prefrontal activation has been associated with positive affect, and with higher levels of antibody responses and natural killer cell cytotoxicity.

Enrollment: 208
Study Start Date: March 2006
Study Completion Date: August 2009
Primary Completion Date: May 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Participation in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program following the initial assessment period, just prior to the start of the immunological measures.
Behavioral: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
The standardized Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is the primary training tool used to enhance mindfulness. The eight-week-long MBSR program is designed to teach subjects how to develop their inner resources in the service of taking better care of themselves. MBSR training includes the learning and refining of a range of skills aimed at increasing relaxation and awareness of physical experiences and sensations related to physical symptoms, emotions, and thoughts. Special emphasis is placed on movement, meditation, and breathing.
Other Name: MBSR
No Intervention: Wait-list control
Wait-list control participants were offered MBSR training after completion of their primary assessments periods.

Detailed Description:

This study investigates the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on immune responses to multiple concentrations of keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) in elderly volunteers. The research design thus capitalizes on the antibody response to a novel, benign antigen to which our subjects will be immunologically naïve. The use of a range of antigen concentrations will provide a sensitive indicator for the effects of intervention.

The Aims of the study are the following:

  1. To examine the effects of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on immunological outcomes, perceived health, and psychological well-being in a sample of seniors 65 years of age and older.
  2. To examine whether treatment effects are moderated by age, personality traits, physical health status, or depression.
  3. To examine the effects of behavioral, psychological, and physiological mediators of immune outcome.

Ages Eligible for Study:   65 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Age 65 or older
  • English speaking
  • If prescribed antidepressant or anxiolytic medications, must have maintained a stable regimen for eight weeks prior to enrolling

Exclusion Criteria:

  • receiving immunosuppressive therapy for cancer or other diseases
  • major, uncorrected sensory impairments
  • cognitive deficits (MMSE <25, or deficits deemed significant enough to interfere)
  • history of a psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, organic brain syndrome, or mental retardation
  • alcohol or substance abuse within the previous year
  • severe cardiovascular disease
  • known allergies to shellfish
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01027780

United States, New York
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York, United States, 14642
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Rochester
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Principal Investigator: Jan A Moynihan, Ph.D University of Rochester
  More Information

Responsible Party: Jan Moynihan, Director, The Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, University of Rochester Identifier: NCT01027780     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 1R01AG025474 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
R01AG025474 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: December 6, 2009
Results First Received: June 14, 2012
Last Updated: August 12, 2014

Keywords provided by Jan Moynihan, University of Rochester:
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
immune system
keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Stress, Psychological
Behavioral Symptoms processed this record on July 19, 2017