Digital Mindfulness Applications

There has been a rapid increase of interactive apps designed for health and well-being. Yet, little research has been published on developing frameworks for design and evaluation of digital mindfulness facilitating technologies | Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Background: Many existing digital mindfulness applications are purely software based. There is room for further exploration and assessment of designs that make more use of physical qualities of artifacts.

Objective: The study aimed to develop and test a new physical digital mindfulness prototype designed for stress reduction.

Methods: In this case study, we designed, developed, and evaluated HU, a physical digital mindfulness prototype designed for stress reduction. In the first phase, we used vapor and light to support mindful breathing and invited 25 participants through snowball sampling to test HU. In the second phase, we added sonification. We deployed a package of probes such as photos, diaries, and cards to collect data from users who explored HU in their homes. Thereafter, we evaluated our installation using both self-assessed stress levels and heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) measures in a pilot study, in order to measure stress resilience effects. After the experiment, we performed a semistructured interview to reflect on HU and investigate the design of digital mindfulness apps for stress reduction.

Conclusions: Our evaluation of HU indicated that HU could facilitate relaxed breathing and stress reduction. There was a difference in outcome between the physiological measures of stress and the subjective reports of stress, as well as a large intervariability among study participants. Our conclusion is that the use of stress reduction tools should be customized and that the design work of mindfulness technology for stress reduction is a complex process, which requires cooperation of designers, HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) experts and clinicians.

Full reference: Zhu, B. et al. (2017) Designing, Prototyping and Evaluating Digital Mindfulness Applications: A Case Study of Mindful Breathing for Stress Reduction.
Journal of Medical Internet Research. 19(6):e197

Web-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Families Living With Mental Health Problems

Stjernswärd, S. et al. (2017) Health & Social Care in the Community. 25(2) pp.700-709.

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The aim of this study was to explore the participants’ experiences of using an 8-week web-based mindfulness programme in terms of user value and usability.

The programme’s usability was satisfactory and largely corroborated by the surveys. The programme was experienced as a valuable tool to cope with stress in both private and professional contexts, making it a viable option to support families living with mental health problems. Time for self-care, a widened perspective, a less judgmental and more accepting attitude, deterring automatic reactions and setting limits helped the participants to deal with their situation and health. The programme’s ease and flexibility of use were major advantages, although the training requires discipline.

Motivators and barriers to use were illuminated, which should be considered in the development of further online services and study designs.

Read the full abstract here

Effects of preventive online mindfulness interventions on stress and mindfulness

Jayewardene, W.P. et al. (2017) Preventive Medicine Reports. 5. pp. 150- 159

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Empirical evidence suggested that mind-body interventions can be effectively delivered online. This study aimed to examine whether preventive online mindfulness interventions (POMI) for non-clinical populations improve short- and long-term outcomes for perceived-stress (primary) and mindfulness (secondary).

Read the full article here