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Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance: Relations in a Mindfulness Preventive Intervention

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/ijct.2013.6.4.371

The present study evaluated the effect of a randomized preventive mindfulness intervention, and the development of mindfulness skills, as indexed by the Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003) and the State Mindfulness Scale (SMS; Tanay & Bernstein, 2013), on distress tolerance promotion, as indexed by the Distress Tolerance Scale (DTS; Simons & Gaher, 2005) and the Discomfort Intolerance Scale (DIS; Schmidt, Richey, & Fitzpatrick, 2006). Fifty-three adult participants between age 20 and 52 (Mage = 25.2 years, SDage = 4.3 years; 65.4% women), recruited from the general Haifa University community, were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness skills training intervention group or wait-list control group. Participants in both groups completed assessments over the course of the 4-week intervention. Results demonstrated a significant effect of the mindfulness intervention on perceived affective distress tolerance as a function of the combined effect of change in dispositional and state mindfulness; in addition, a significant effect of the mindfulness intervention on perceived affective distress tolerance independent, and therefore above and beyond the effect, of the development of dispositional and state mindfulness over the course of the intervention was observed. Similar effects with respect to change in perceived discomfort intolerance were not observed. The findings are discussed with respect to their implications for understanding the therapeutic malleability of perceived affective distress tolerance, the processes underlying observed mindfulness and perceived affective distress tolerance relations, and for informing intervention research and practice targeting distress tolerance promotion.