The Evidence Portal

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (adapted version)

About the program

This adapted version of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s well-studied (MBSR) program for adults. This version of MBSR is delivered as a structured 12-week program of instruction in the cultivation of mindfulness, a practice of purposeful nonjudgmental attention to the happenings of the present moment. By fostering mindfulness, the program aims to reduce dysregulated focus on the past (rumination) and worries about the future (anxiety).

Who does it work for?

This adapted version of MBSR is designed for students aged 10-13 years old. This adapted version of MBSR has only been evaluated in the USA. A randomized control trial (Sibinga et al., 2016) was conducted with 300 participants (159 in the intervention group and 141 in the active control group). Study participants were almost all African American and almost all were eligible for free lunches (a measure of socio-economic status). Participants were 50% female.

This adapted version of MBSR has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?


  • MBSR decreased participants’ negative affect

No effect:

  • Program had no effect on participants’ mindfulness
  • Program had no effect on participants’ problem-solving skills
  • Program had no effect on participants’ coping self-efficacy
  • Program had no effect on participants’ positive coping capacity (the capacity to reframe a problem as a positive or an opportunity)
  • Program had no effect on participants’ positive affect
  • Program had no effect on participants’ temperamental expressivity (a measure of anger expression)
  • Program had no effect on participants’ reactive expressivity (a measure of anger expression)

How effective is it?

Overall, this adapted version of MBSR had mixed effects on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Mixed research evidence (with no adverse effects):

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • An equal number or more RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

The program is delivered to students in school settings during class time for 12 weeks and is delivered by 2 experienced MBSR instructors.

 This adapted version of MBSR consists of 3 components:

(1) Didactic material related to mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and the mind-body connection

(2) Experiential practice of various mindfulness meditations, mindful yoga, and body awareness during group meetings and encouragement of home practice

(3) Group discussion focused on the application of mindfulness to everyday situations and problem-solving related to barriers to effective practice

How much does it cost?

The costs for this adapted version of MBSR were not reported in the study.

What else should I consider?

School administrators need to incorporate MBSR into the school curriculum and work with program staff to facilitate scheduling and implementation.

Program facilitators need to be trained to deliver this adapted version of MBSR.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 RCT conducted in the USA with 300 participants (Sibinga et al. 2016).

Further resources

Sibinga, EM, Webb, L, Ghazarian, SR, & Ellen, JM 2016, ‘School-based mindfulness instruction: An RCT’, Pediatrics, vol. 137, no. 1, article number e20152532, DOI 10.1542/peds.2015-2532.

The following studies are particularly relevant to the program:

Sibinga, EM, Stewart, M, Magyari, T, Welsh, CK, Hutton, N, Ellen, JM 2008, ‘Mindfulness-based stress reduction for HIV-infected youth: a pilot study’, Explore (NY), vol. 4, pp. 36–37, DOI 10.1016/j.explore.2007.10.002.

Sibinga, EM, Kerrigan, D, Stewart, M, Johnson, K, Magyari, T, Ellen, JM 2011, ‘Mindfulness-based stress reduction for urban youth’, Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, vol. 17, pp. 213–218, DOI 10.1089/acm.2009.0605

Sibinga, EM, Perry-Parrish, C, Thorpe, K, Mika, M, Ellen, JM 2014, ‘A small mixed method RCT of mindfulness instruction for urban youth’, Explore (NY), vol. 10, pp. 180–186, DOI 10.1016/j.explore.2014.02.006

Sibinga, EM, Perry-Parrish, C, Chung, SE, Johnson, SB, Smith, M, Ellen, JM 2013, ‘School-based mindfulness instruction for urban male youth: a small randomized controlled trial’, Preventative Medicine, vol. 57, pp. 799–801, DOI 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.08.02.


Last updated:

09 Dec 2022

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