Elementary School Mindfulness-Based Substance Use Prevention Program

Period of Performance: 01/15/2009 - 06/30/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Innovation Research and Training, Inc.
Durham, NC 27713
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The proposed project will create and evaluate the feasibility of a mindfulness substance abuse prevention for late elementary school-aged children, called MasterMind. Children will participate in activities focused on the foundations of mindfulness (e.g., awareness of thoughts) and these activities will be comprised of mindful movements and mindful journeys (e.g., meditation). Additionally, children will learn how to apply the mindfulness skills to their everyday lives. The main objective will be to develop an evidence-based, easy-to-use program for teachers to enhance children's mindfulness skills which should, in turn, positively influence children's social and emotional skills, and reduce their intentions to use substances in the future. In Phase I of the project, the overall program will be developed with input from both mindfulness and teacher consultants. Elementary school teachers and children will participate in separate activity meetings to preview the twenty lessons and provide feedback on the program. Teachers will also be recruited to complete a web- based survey assessing the feasibility of implementing the MasterMind curriculum into their daily teaching schedules. Finally, a feasibility study of the revised and finalized program will be conducted in two elementary school classrooms. Teachers'and students'responses to pre- and post-test questionnaires and input on the feasibility of the program will be obtained. Pending the results of the pilot program, Phase II will involve revising the program and evaluating its effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial for teaching children mindfulness skills that will influence their coping and regulatory behaviors, thereby reducing their intentions to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Mindfulness-based preventive interventions have been found to be associated with reductions in alcohol and drug use, anxiety, and negative affect and increases in attention and self-awareness. The purpose of this project is to (1) develop the prototype for a mindfulness-based curriculum and (2) evaluate the feasibility of the program. The proposed program will be designed as an easy-to use, attractive, research-based preventive intervention program to be taught by late elementary school teachers to their students that utilizes active learning methods. This project will result in the development of a commercially available, empirically-tested educational tool that can be used in elementary school settings and community-based programs.