The Role of Mindfulness, Attachment, and Stress in Diverse Populations During Pregnancy

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2017-07-27

Authors

Kirby, Joshua N.

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Abstract

As stress can be detrimental to mental and physical health outcomes during pregnancy, there is a need for ongoing research of psychosocial factors, as well as underlying demographic and sociocultural variables, that may mitigate such impact. Attachment security and dispositional mindfulness have been found to predict lower stress levels in certain contexts. Additionally, mindfulness training has proven to be an effective stress reduction intervention in pregnant populations. This study aimed primarily to evaluate the relationship among demographic factors, stress, attachment, and mindfulness in a racially diverse sample of women with high-risk pregnancies. A secondary aim involved a small pilot study of mindfulness training in this population. The hypotheses were that women with more insecure attachment would have higher stress and lower levels of mindfulness, and that mindfulness would moderate the impact of attachment insecurity on stress. African-American women were hypothesized to have greater levels of stress and attachment avoidance based on a review of the literature. Participants (N = 127) completed the 10-Item Perceived Stress Scale, Experiences in Close Relationship Scale- Short Form, and Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form. Analysis of variance indicated participants were more likely to have avoidant attachment and lower dispositional mindfulness if they were African-American and unmarried. Regression analyses revealed attachment and mindfulness to be predictors of stress; however, mindfulness did not buffer the relationship between attachment insecurity and stress. Negative correlations were demonstrated between attachment avoidance and facets of mindfulness. With regard to the secondary, exploratory aim, a subsample of women (N = 5) completed a one-week mindfulness intervention compared to a control group (N = 5), in which all participants were administered the abovementioned questionnaires pre- and post-test. As anticipated, no statistically significant changes were noted, although important trends were identified for participants that practiced mindfulness meditation compared to those that did not. The results highlight differences in the experience of stress between African-American and white women when considering attachment tendencies continued into adulthood. Though not a significant moderator of stress for insecurely attached participants, this study identified mindfulness as a key mechanism in the appraisal and response to stress with unique sociocultural sensitivities that deserve further attention.

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