Date of Award

Fall 12-21-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Claire A. Spears, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ashli A. Owen-Smith, Ph.D.


Introduction: Research suggests that mindfulness-based treatment may improve smoking cessation outcomes; however more research is needed to understand and improve these interventions for diverse populations. Historically, racial/ethnic minorities and low-income individuals have been underrepresented in mindfulness studies. It is critical to understand experiences with mindfulness training among diverse and underserved populations. Aim: The current study examined qualitative data from a diverse group of participants who received Mindfulness-Based Addiction Treatment (MBAT) for smoking cessation. The study provides insight about how mindfulness-based training is experienced by individuals of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, races and ethnicities and provides suggestions of ways in which to improve the program. Methods: Participants were 28 adult smokers (50% Black or African American, 32.1% Caucasian, 14.3% more than one race; 57.1% annual income < $30,000) who received eight weekly 2-hour MBAT group sessions and nicotine patches to help them quit smoking. Participants then engaged in individual in-depth interviews describing their experiences and suggestions to improve the program. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and managed using NVivo 11. A team of coders reviewed the transcripts to identify salient themes. Results: Relevant themes included benefitting from practicing mindfulness and finding it helpful for quitting smoking; using mindfulness to cope with cravings and stress; expressing preferences for specific forms of mindfulness practices (e.g., body scan, walking meditation, yoga, etc.); discussing barriers and least preferred forms of mindfulness practice; describing mindfulness in their own words; appreciating social support offered through the group; and providing suggestions to improve the program including the use of technology (e.g., mobile apps and YouTube tutorials). Overall, participants indicated a high level of interest in continuing to practice mindfulness on their own and shared strategies for incorporating it into their daily lives. Most assessments of MBAT were favorable and the atmosphere was typically reported as supportive and non-judgmental, but some reported disruptive intragroup dynamics. When probed for ways to improve the program, participants consistently suggested offering more days and times for group sessions in order to accommodate different schedules, and using technology to enhance the program. Many wanted the program to continue beyond eight weeks. Discussion: Overall, mindfulness-based training was endorsed by individuals of diverse backgrounds (i.e., racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic) as being helpful and beneficial for smoking cessation. Greater accessibility and incorporating technology in the program were the predominant suggestions for program improvement.