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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy Group for Trauma-Exposed Black Adults

PI: Abigail Powers Lott, PhD. ABPP

What is trauma and its common effects? 

When you experience a trauma, it can impact your emotions, your body, and how you experience yourself and others. Trauma can include many things, but generally includes exposure to events that are unusually or especially frightening or horrible, such as experiencing or witnessing death or serious injury or sexual violence. Experiencing many different traumas throughout your life can increase your risk for many negative health outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Black adults, particularly those who live in communities with limited socioeconomic resources, experience trauma and its related effects at particularly high rates. We have interviewed more than 10,000 patients at Grady and have found that 50% of Grady patients surveyed (>90% Black adults) have experienced PTSD and/or depression in their lifetime. 

What is mindfulness and why might it be helpful for trauma-exposed adults?

Mindfulness is about being in the present moment on purpose, non-judgmentally and with full awareness. Mindfulness-based interventions have been found to be helpful for a wide range of mental and physical health problems, including depression and PTSD. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be especially helpful for trauma-exposed individuals with both PTSD and depression because it may help to improve emotion dysregulation and dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which both contribute to trauma-related psychological outcomes like PTSD and depression. 

What is the goal of this study?  

The purpose of this study is to pilot a primary-care based mindfulness intervention for chronically trauma-exposed Black adults in the Grady community with PTSD and depression symptoms. The study will utilize a randomized controlled trial design along with a multi-method psychological and physiological assessment approach to establish the feasibility and acceptability of an 8-session mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention that is trauma-informed and culturally responsive in its approach. Preliminary mechanisms of action associated with MBCT including emotion dysregulation and autonomic function will be evaluated. 

What is the treatment?  

The treatment consists of weekly group-based mindfulness sessions over the course of 8 consecutive weeks. Each session lasts 90 minutes and is currently being held over Zoom. During this treatment you will learn strategies to improve awareness of feelings, thoughts, and body sensations, and improve your control over attention and response to stress. Participants randomized to the treatment group will begin the intervention immediately, and the wait-list group will have the option to start the intervention at the end of their study participation (approximately 3 months after enrollment). 

What are we measuring and how?  

Before, during, and after the intervention, the study will collect several types of data: 

  • Clinical: A clinician will do an interview asking about trauma, PTSD, MDD, and other physical and psychological symptoms. You will also be asked to answer questions about your symptoms every few weeks until the end of your study participation. The study includes a 1-month follow-up assessment. 

  • Physiological: Skin conductance will be collected using e-Sense software at the first and last interview. 

Who are our participants?  

The study is complete and data will soon be analyzed. Check back for study findings.

We are registered on as NCT# 03922581:  

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