Differences in trait mindfulness and emotion regulation in people with a frontal neurological condition and a carer sample

  • Lyndsey McLaughlin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Individuals with frontal neurological conditions are challenged by the need to emotionally adjust to their condition. They are also likely to experience problems with their executive functioning – skills associated with the integrity of the frontal lobes. Trait mindfulness is described as a person’s ability to attend to and be aware of their moment to moment experiences. Research suggests that everybody has the capacity to be mindful, but individuals differ in this ability due to a variety of factors. Recently associations have been established between trait mindfulness and executive functioning. Emerging theories and models are suggestive of a mindful emotion regulation, which is dependent on the integrity of executive functions.

Aims: The study aimed to explore differences in trait mindfulness and emotional regulation in a sample of patients with frontal neurological conditions and a carer sample. Due to the suggestion that trait mindfulness and emotion regulation are dependent on levels of executive functioning, it appears useful to investigate this in a sample that have damage to the associated brain regions, in comparison to a healthy sample without executive functioning problems.

Method: The study employed a quantitative, cross sectional, independent groups design, with exploration of within subjects’ contrasts. Thirty-eight participants (neurological patients, n=20, carers, n=18) completed self-report questionnaires for trait mindfulness, emotion regulation, executive dysfunction, and anxiety and depression. Data was analysed using mixed model ANOVAs to investigate differences between the two groups and within subjects’ contrasts.

Results: Data analysis revealed differences across all measures between patients and carers. Overall patients displayed lower levels of trait mindfulness and higher levels of executive dysfunction compared to carers. Interaction effects were also shown for trait mindfulness and emotion regulation. These were suggestive of differences across mindfulness facets, and emotion regulation strategies in the two groups.

Conclusions: It appears that patients with frontal neurological conditions are able utilise some aspects of mindfulness as measured by the FFMQ (observe and non- react) more than others. However, it is noted that this was in the context of them having experience of mindfulness-based interventions, and other confounding variables may have impacted these findings. The results of the study provide useful information about levels of trait mindfulness and emotion regulation in patients with frontal neurological conditions, which appears clinically relevant when planning psychological interventions for this patient population.
Date of AwardOct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAlan Robert Bowman (Supervisor)

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