Culturally Responsive Stress Reduction: A Mobile Mindfulness Application to Support Health Promotion for African Americans

Period of Performance: 09/21/2017 - 08/30/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Iris Media, Inc.
Eugene, OR 97401
Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT The proposed intervention, Culturally Responsible Stress Reduction: A Mobile Mindfulness Application to Support Health Promotion for African Americans (CRSR), is designed to encourage the use of mindfulness to mitigate the disproportionate amount of stress-related health disparities facing African Americans.1-3 Current mindfulness approaches have been unsuccessful in engaging this population;19 therefore, we propose to bridge this disparity by developing an mHealth (mobile health) mindfulness application (?app?) tailored specifically to the cultural values of the African American community. Mindfulness involves meditative practices that cultivate purposeful and nonjudgmental attention to current thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the body. Mindfulness has been incorporated into widely-used interventions, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).28 The CRSR app will be grounded in ACT and will integrate the convenience of mobile technology with tailored content to allow users to shift from potentially harmful culturally prescribed stress-coping activities (e.g., self-reliance, emotional suppression) to adaptive mindfulness-based stress-coping activities aligned with culturally specific values. This integration of content, backed by theory and empirical evidence, effective instructional delivery, an interdisciplinary development team, and modern communication technology will produce an effective mHealth intervention. The CRSR app features will include brief (< 3 minute) guided meditations to connect the user to the present moment and a place of calm through culturally aligned exercises grounded in spirituality, orality, self- empowerment, and resilience; daily notifications prompting users to reflect and engage with the app; scheduled email messages on the importance mindfulness as a way increase control over physical and psychological health; and user-customized alerts. Phase I will focus on proof of concept, i.e., the feasibility and social acceptability of the CRSR app. In Phase I we will develop a testable prototype that provides functionality for participants to practice mindfulness. Testing will occur with 42 African American participants and will result in a minimally viable product prior to full development and testing with a fully-powered RCT in Phase II. The final product will consist of a native mobile application on Android and Apple IOS. The applicant, IRIS Educational Media, has assembled a knowledgeable and experienced team of research scientists, content and technology developers, and evaluation specialists to adequately realize this project. The company has an established track record of developing and marketing technology-assisted public health interventions.