Brief Smartphone Treatment Study

  • End date
    Jul 31, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Penn State University
Updated on 12 May 2022


Little is known about whether and how brief mindfulness therapies yield clinically beneficial effects. This gap exists despite the rapid growth of smartphone mindfulness applications and presence of mental health treatment gap. Specifically, no prior brief, smartphone mindfulness ecological momentary intervention (MEMI) has targeted generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Moreover, although theories propose that mindfulness intervention can boost attentional control (AC), executive functioning (EF), perspective-taking, and social cognition skills they have largely gone untested. Thus, this randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to address these gaps by assessing the efficacy of a 14-day smartphone mindfulness EMI (vs. placebo). Participants with GAD will be randomly assigned to either MEMI or self-monitoring placebo (SMP). Those in treatment will exercise multiple core mindfulness strategies (open monitoring, acceptance, attending to small moments, slowed rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing). Also, those in MEMI will be reminded before bedtime that mindfulness is a lifelong practice. Comparatively, participants assigned to SMP will only be prompted to practice self-monitoring. They will notice their thoughts, rate any distress associated with them, and will not be taught any mindfulness strategies. All prompts will occur 5 times a day, for 14 consecutive days. They will complete self-reports and neuropsychological assessments at pre-, post-, and 1-month follow-up. Multilevel modeling analyses will determine if treatment (vs. self-monitoring placebo (SMP)) produces substantially larger reductions in trait worry and negative perseverative cognitions as well as steeper increases in AC and EF (inhibition, set-shifting, working memory updating). In addition, the investigators hypothesized that MEMI (vs. SMP) would lead to greater increases in performance-based and self-reported trait mindfulness, empathy, and perspective taking. Findings will advance understanding of the efficacy of unguided, technology-assisted, brief mindfulness in a clinical sample.

Condition Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Treatment Mindfulness ecological momentary intervention, Self-monitoring placebo
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04846777
SponsorPenn State University
Last Modified on12 May 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Participant currently undergoing
Presence of suicidality, mania, psychosis, or substance use disorders

Exclusion Criteria

Below age 18
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