A feasibility trial of a digital mindfulness-based intervention to improve asthma-related quality of life for primary care patients with asthma
Ben Ainsworth, Sabina Stanescu, Beth Stuart, Daniel Russell, Megan Liddiard, Ratko Djukanovic, Mike Thomas
Asthma outcomes remain suboptimal, despite effective pharmacotherapy. Psychological dysfunction (such as anxiety) is common, and associated with poorer outcomes. We evaluated a digital mindfulness programme as an intervention to improve asthma-related quality of life for primary care patients, in a prospectively registered randomized-controlled feasibility study. We offered ‘Headspace’, a widely-used digital mindfulness intervention, to adults with asthma through 16 UK GP practices. Participants were randomized on a 2:1 basis to the mindfulness intervention, or waitlist control. Participants completed questionnaires (including asthma symptom control, asthma-related quality of life, anxiety, depression) at baseline, 6-week and 3-month follow-up. 116 participants completed primary outcomes at 3-month follow-up: intervention 73 (79%), control 43 (84%). Compared to baseline, the intervention group but not the control group reported significantly improved asthma-related quality of life, with a between-group difference favoring the intervention group that was not significant (Mean difference = 0.15, 95%CI − 0.13 to 0.42). Intervention use varied (ranging from 0 to 192 times) but was generally high. Digital mindfulness interventions are feasible and acceptable adjunct treatments for mild and moderate asthma to target quality of life. Further research should adapt ‘generic’ mindfulness-based stress-reduction to maximize effectiveness for asthma, and validate our findings in a fully-powered randomized controlled trial.