Investigating Be Mindful and autism
The pilot randomised control trial tested whether self-guided, online mindfulness-based (MBT) and cognitive-behavioural therapies (CBT) could reduce anxiety in adults with autism. The 54 participants were randomly allocated to either an online mindfulness-based therapy, an online cognitive behaviour therapy, or a waitlist control group. This research was published in Autism journal. It was supported by City University of London, and the Medical Research Council.
The results of the findings show the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies for individuals with autism. The 23 participants engaged in the online therapies demonstrated significant reductions in anxiety. The study found at a 3-month follow up that over 75% of participants ‘demonstrated reliable reductions in at least one of the anxiety measures.’ Over 50% of participants maintained these benefits at a 6-month follow-up.
MAINTAINED BENEFITS AFTER 6-MONTHS
The clinical study reveals that online MBT and CBT interventions are acceptable to individuals with autism, with an average of 66% retention for both therapies. Wellmind Health’s Be Mindful course saw an 88% retention rate. The researchers suggest that this could reflect ‘the fact that Be Mindful platform scaffolds continued engagement through weekly e-mail reminders’.
The study addresses the problem that access to MBT and CBT is ‘problematic’ for autistic individuals by investigating online options. Following its findings, the pilot calls for further research into the use of online, self-guided MBT and CBT interventions as cost-effective and readily available alternatives to equivalent face-to-face interventions.
Reference: Gaigg, S. B., Flaxman, P. E., McLaven, G., Shah, R., Bowler, D. M., Meyer, B., ...South, M. (2020). Self-guided mindfulness and cognitive behavioural practices reduce anxiety in autistic adults: A pilot 8-month waitlist-controlled trial of widely available online tools. Autism, 24(4), 867–883.