Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Americans often experience stress from things like work, money, family, or health problems. Feeling stressed can affect a person’s physical and mental health. Stress can also make existing health conditions worse. Learning how to reduce stress can help people improve their overall well-being.

One way to reduce stress is through mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Mindfulness therapy helps people to focus more on the present and to accept their feelings. Typically, mindfulness therapy programs include 8–12 weekly sessions of guided meditation exercises. Researchers do not know if mindfulness therapy with fewer weekly sessions can help patients.

This study is comparing two online mindfulness therapy programs. One program includes eight weekly sessions. The other program lasts three sessions. Researchers want to compare how well the shorter and longer programs work to improve people’s mood, energy, interest in daily life, and stress. They also want to learn if the shorter program works for all adult patients. 

Who can this research help?

Health clinics can use this information to plan services to help adults who have stress.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is working with a variety of research networks, called Patient-Powered Research Networks, or PPRNs, which are led and operated by patient groups. The team is recruiting more than 2,000 patients and caregivers to participate in the study. Caregivers are family members or friends of patients who help them on a regular basis.

The research team is assigning patients to one of two groups by chance. In the first group, patients and caregivers participate in a standard online mindfulness therapy program over eight weekly sessions. In the second group, they participate in three weekly sessions. Twenty weeks after participants begin their mindfulness therapy programs, researchers are asking them to report on how they have been feeling over the past two weeks. Researchers want to know about their mood, activity level, and general interests. They also want to know about their stress level and mindfulness.

Patients and others from the PPRNs are working with the research team to plan the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Adults ages 18 or older
  • 8 sessions of online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • 3 sessions of online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Primary: positive mood, vitality, and general interests over the prior 2 weeks (WHO-5)

Secondary: perceived stress, emotional distress-depression, emotional distress-anxiety, ability to participate in social roles and activities, mindfulness

Timeframe 20-week follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Healthy Mind Healthy You

Key Dates

May 2016
January 2022

Study Registration Information


Project Status
Award Type
Health Conditions

Health Conditions

These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them.

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PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders.

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Funding Opportunity Type
Intervention Strategy

Intervention Strategies

PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care.

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Research Priority Area


The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located.

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Last updated: January 12, 2022