Project Summary

PCORI has identified COVID-19 as an important research topic. Patients, clinicians, and others want to learn: What are effective ways to prevent or reduce the impact of COVID-19, especially on vulnerable populations and the healthcare workforce? To help answer this question, PCORI launched an initiative in 2020 to Strengthen Understanding of COVID-19 Impact and Inform Healthcare Responses. The initiative funded this research project and others.

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?

Nearly half of adults in the United States report that worry over COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health. Worry and stress can make existing health problems worse.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, is a kind of therapy that can help people cope with worry. MBSR involves practices such as meditation and mindful movement. But social distancing policies due to COVID-19 have made it hard for people to access MBSR in person. In this study, the research team is comparing two ways to deliver MBSR remotely for African Americans and other groups at increased risk of COVID-19.

Who can this research help?

Results may help people living in underserved communities who are looking for ways to address worry and stress.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling 270 adults who report high levels of worry from community locations such as churches and clinics. Participants live in low-income, mainly African-American neighborhoods in Buffalo, New York. The team is assigning people by chance to one of three groups:

  • Via teleconference. People attend weekly group MBSR sessions via Zoom for nine weeks and practice MBSR each day on their own.
  • Via a mobile app. People receive MBSR daily practices and activities for nine weeks via a mobile app.
  • Waitlist control group. During the study, people don’t receive MBSR or any other program. After the study is over, people receive the MBSR mobile app for their personal use.

The research team is surveying people at the start of the study and again 4, 9, and 21 weeks later. Surveys ask about worry, stress, depression, anxiety, sleep, mindfulness, isolation, loneliness, and quality of life.

Healthcare facilities and religious organizations are helping to plan and conduct this study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population 270 adults with serious worry living in neighborhoods identified as predominantly low-income and African American and historically under-resourced for health and mental health services in Buffalo, New York
  • MBSR delivered via teleconference
  • MBSR delivered via mobile app
  • Waitlist control group 

Primary: serious worry

Secondary: anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, isolation, sleep, mindfulness, and quality of life

Timeframe 21-week follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Yu-Ping Chang, PhD
The Research Foundation For The State University of New York
Comparing Two Ways to Mitigate the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health among Adults from Underserved and Racial Minority Communities

Key Dates

November 2023

Study Registration Information


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. View Glossary
Populations Populations 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. View Glossary
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. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023