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Mindfulness is the hot new trend in mental health, but a recent study says the scientific community might be overselling its effectiveness. Mindfulness, as Nature defines it, “is the practice of being aware of thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad.” Prior studies have found it can help with everything from PTSD and eating disorders to back pain and cancer, MinnPost reports.
According to Health News Review, experts claim mindfulness can make CEOs more effective, help consumers save money, and create happier employees. There are an estimated 8,000 books on mindfulness, and it even has its own mayonnaise. “A lot of these things are reported to be true, they’re in a TEDx talk,” one psychologist not involved with the study tells Nature. “Now we’re seeing … we’ve kind of been bulls—ting people [for] a decade.”
A study published earlier this month in PLOS One looked at 124 other studies on mindfulness and found they reported positive findings 60% more often than was statistically likely. In fact, only three of the published studies reported negative outcomes.
What’s more, researchers found many studies were languishing unpublished for years, meaning studies with negative findings might be going unpublished. The study’s coauthor, Brett Thombs, tells Health News Review “it isn’t dissimilar to [the drug industry] pushing cures that don’t work like they say they do.” But he says he isn’t against mindfulness treatment, which includes yoga, meditation, and more.
“I think that we need to have honestly and completely reported evidence to figure out for whom it works and how much,” he tells Nature. (These researchers claim mindfulness can turn a common household chore into a stress-reliever.)
By Michael Harthorne