Perceived Benefits of Mindfulness and Health Education Programs for Minoritized Adolescents: A Qualitative Analysis

Jacinda K. Dariotis, Keren Mabisi, Rachel Jackson-Gordon, Emma Jane Rose, Diana H. Fishbein, Tamar Mendelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: In the context of adverse social conditions, adolescents may not progress to adulthood with the emotional and behavioral skills needed to effectively navigate inevitable life challenges. Appropriately timed, evidence-based interventions have the potential to improve youth developmental trajectories. This qualitative study explored adolescents’ perceptions of two different types of school-based programs designed to promote healthy development and decision-making: mindfulness and health education. Method: Focus group data were analyzed to explore adolescent perceptions of how the programs impacted them. Ninth grade students (n = 79) in three schools serving marginalized urban communities, where traumatic experiences are common, were randomly assigned to one of the two interventions as part of a trial to identify mechanisms of behavioral change. Separate focus groups were conducted for participants in the mindfulness and health education programs at each school (n = 6 focus groups). Of the 70 participants who attended one or more program sessions, 45 participated in a focus group (mean age: 14.7 years; 86.7% Black; 51.1% female). Results: Four themes were identified through analysis of the focus group data: (1) enhanced emotional intelligence–emotion recognition, perspective taking, and empathy (mindfulness only); (2) a mindset shift toward cognitive control through greater focus, awareness, and intentionality; (3) utilizing program skills in other contexts to manage stress or make healthy choices; and (4) reinforced and transferred program learning through sharing. Conclusions: Students perceived benefits of program participation, many of which overlapped between programs. Enhanced emotional intelligence was unique to the mindfulness-based intervention. These findings have implications for the development and adaptation of school-based programs and selection of comparison or active control conditions in intervention trials. Preregistration: This study is registered with (NCT03989934).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1346-1361
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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