AusAsian Mental Health Research Group Our Projects MBSR for Improving Veteran Mental Health in NQ

A Pilot Study Into the Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Improving Veteran Mental Health in North Queensland

Funded by Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre 2021 Micro-Funding Application (Ref: MF0000821) and the Townsville Hospital and Health Service Study, Education and Research Trust Account (SERTA) Fund (Ref: 2021-04REG)

Our Team

  • Associate Professor Wendy Li (Lead Chief Investigator)
  • Associate Professor Satish Karunakaran (CI)
  • Dr Timothy Leow (CI, Townsville University Hospital)
  • Dr Sarah Beaney (CI,Townsville Private Clinic)
  • Dr Alan Nelson (CI, Rosslea Medical Centre)
  • Dr Daniel Miller (CI)

The Project

This study aims to investigate whether MBSR is efficacious for North Queensland veterans. Research indicates that nearly 50% of Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans meet diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most well-studied forms of psychotherapy, which have demonstrated effectiveness for many veterans with PTSD, anxiety and depression. However, about 30-60% patients do not respond well to these treatments, indicating a need for research into alternative treatments for veterans with mental disorders, such as MBSR.

As a clinical standardized 8-week group intervention, MBSR has been employed as a safe and effective treatment for veteran mental health in the past decade; but is predominately USA-based. To the researchers’ knowledge, this study is the first attempt in Australia to evaluate the effectiveness of MBSR with veteran populations. The clinicians in the research team also report that there are limited group interventions for veterans in Townsville, and that existing group interventions are typically conducted in an informal way. The project will help Townsville clinicians and service providers improve service delivery by integrating standardized MBSR into veteran mental health services.