Abstract: Addressing Health Disparities through an Innovative Mindfulness Yoga Program with Minority Youth (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

305 Addressing Health Disparities through an Innovative Mindfulness Yoga Program with Minority Youth

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Michelle Hospital, PhD, Associate Director, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Rachel Clarke, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Staci Morris, PsyD, Associate Director for Clinical Services and Training, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Eric F. Wagner, PhD, Director/Professor, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Eva Wales, MS, Community Research Coordinator, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Introduction: Approximately 50% of adolescents in the United States have some type of diagnosed mental health disorder. Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health disorders experienced by adolescents. These disorders may directly affect physical health and/or increase the risk of unhealthy and unsafe behaviors, such as initiation of substance use and violence. There are significant health disparities associated with access to and the use of traditional mental health services among racial/ethnic minority youth. Therefore, identifying innovative techniques that can prevent and/or ameliorate mental health challenges are essential for these at risk teens. Emerging research supports the psychological and physical benefits of mind-body awareness strategies including mindfulness, meditation, and yoga as methods to enhance general wellness and mental health. However, there are significant socioeconomic barriers associated with access to this type of programming. The primary aims of the current study were to facilitate access to and evaluate the efficacy of a free in-school mindfulness yoga program among underserved, low income, racial/ethnic minority teens.

Methods: Participants (N=188) were recruited from a local public high school in a large multi-ethnic urban school district. A 6-week program consisting of weekly hour-long sessions were conducted at school. The program curriculum was developed using evidenced-based mindfulness exercises and a standardized yoga curriculum that our research team developed for a previous study. Participants completed assessments at two time points (Baseline and 4 weeks after completing the program curriculum). Assessments included questions related to age, race/ethnicity, depression, anxiety, stress, and frequency of physical and mindfulness related activities.

Results: Participants average age was 15.19 years (SD=1.30). Most of the participants were female (64%) and identified as Hispanic (95%). At posttest, repeated measures ANOVAs revealed significant reductions in anxiety symptomatology from baseline to post (F (1, 189) =8.26, p=0.005), as well as, a reduction in stress from baseline to post (F (1, 186) =47.74, p<.001). Additionally, reductions in depressive symptomatology from baseline to post approached significance (F (1, 159) =3.83, p=0.05).

Conclusions: These findings provide support for the efficacy of mind-body interventions for improving the psychological well-being of racial/ethnic minority youth. This study also highlights the importance of addressing health disparities through greater access to and utilization of innovative prevention techniques among underserved minority youth.