L2B Research

Learning to BREATHE is committed to contributing to the scientific evidence base for mindfulness with youth, young adults and others. Here are links for several peer-reviewed, published and unpublished research studies that describe results of L2B interventions. Other articles present the theoretical foundations of L2B as well as practical suggestions for implementation.  If you click on most of the links, you can find the published papers.


  • Pilot randomized controlled trial of a mindfulness-based group intervention in adolescent girls at risk for type 2 diabetes with depressive symptoms (2017) Shomaker, L.B., Bruggink, S., Pivarunas, B., Skoranski, A., Foss, J., Chaffin, E., Damager, S.,  Annameier, S.,  Quaglia, J., Brown,K.W., Broderick, P. and Bell, C.  Shomaker, L. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 66-74.

Researchers investigated the impact of a mindfulness (L2B) and CBT treatment for adolescent girls at risk for type 2 diabetes and depression. At post-treatment and six-months, adolescents decreased depression (ps<.001), with no between-group difference (ps>.38). Compared to the cognitive-behavioral group, adolescents in the mindfulness-based (L2B) group had greater decreases in insulin resistance and fasting insulin at post-treatment and greater six-month decreases in fasting glucose, after adjusting for body fat and other covariates (ps<.05). Compared to a cognitive-behavioral group, adolescents who received mindfulness showed greater reductions in depressive symptoms and better insulin resistance after the intervention.


  • Is mindfulness training useful for pre-service teachers? An exploratory investigation. (2017) Kerr, S., Lucas, L.J., DiDomenico, G.E., Mishra, V.,  Stanton, B.J., Shivde, G., Pero, A.N., Runyon, M.E. & Terry, G.M.    Teaching Education.

The authors investigated the effects of mindfulness training with 23 pre-service teachers. Subjects were assigned to either a six-week mindfulness training (L2B) program or a control condition. Postintervention, mindfulness participants reported greater emotional clarity and improved regulation of negative emotions. In particular, the mindfulness group was shielded from an increase in negative emotions compared to the control group. In addition, within-group differences suggested that mindfulness training helps student-teachers control impulsive behavior and respond more flexibly to stressful emotions. These findings add to a growing body of research on the benefits of mindfulness. Pre-service teachers, it seems, gain the most benefit in the realm of emotional regulation.


  • Learning to BREATHE: A pilot study of a mindfulness-based intervention to support marginalized youth (2017). Eva, A. & Thayer, N. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1-12.  

Authors investigated the effectiveness of L2B for adolescents at risk of school failure as they transition from high school into young adulthood. A small sample of 17 to 20 year olds (majority were male students of color) participated in the 6-week program and reported greater self-regulation, attention-awareness, and positive thinking at the end. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2156587217696928


  •  “Promoting Healthy Transition to College through Mindfulness Training with 1st year College Students: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial”   (2017) Kamila Dvorakova, Moé Kishida, Steriani Elavsky, Jacinda Li, Patricia C. Broderick, Mark R. Agrusti, & Mark T. GreenbergJournal of American College Health.

Dvorakova et al, 2017 Given the importance of developmental transitions on young adults’ lives and the high rates of mental health issues among U.S. college students, 1st year college students can be particularly vulnerable to stress and adversity. This study evaluated the effectiveness and feasibility of mindfulness training aiming to promote 1st year college students’ health and wellbeing. Participants: 109 freshmen were recruited from residential dormitories (50% Caucasian, 66% female). Data collection was completed in November 2014. Methods: A randomized control trial was conducted utilizing the Learning to BREATHE (L2B) program, a universal mindfulness program adapted to match the developmental tasks of college transition. Results: Participation in the intervention was associated with significant increase in students’ life satisfaction, and significant decrease in depression and anxiety. Marginally significant decrease was found for sleep issues and alcohol consequences. Conclusion: Mindfulness-based programs may be an effective strategy to enhance a healthy transition into college.


  • A Pilot Randomized Trial Evaluating a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention of Ethnic Minority Youth (2016) Joey Fung, Sisi Guo, Joel Jin, Laurel Bear, & Anna LauMindfulness DOI 10.1007/s12671-016-0519-7

 Fung and Lau, Mindfulness 2016 This study examined the feasibility and efficacy of a 12-week mindfulness intervention in a wait-list controlled trial of 19 Latino-American and Asian-American middle school students with elevated mood symptoms. ANCOVA analyses indicated that immediate treatment was associated with significant reductions in parent-reported externalizing problems at post-treatment and marginally significant reductions in youth-reported internalizing problems. The pooled pre-to-post treatment analyses revealed that mindfulness led to a reduction in parent-reported externalizing problems, youth-reported internalizing problems, and youth-reported use of expressive suppression. Overall, this pilot study offers feasibility and efficacy data for mindfulness-based program as a potential treatment for behavior problems for ethnic minority with elevated mood symptoms. Implications of the findings, as well as considerations in engaging low-income ethnic minority families are discussed.


  •  A School-Based Mindfulness Pilot Study for Ethnically Diverse At-Risk Adolescents (2015) Karen Bluth, Rebecca A. Campo, Sarah Pruteanu-Malinici, Amanda Reams, Michael Mullarkey, & Patricia C. Broderick  Mindfulness. 

Bluth, Campo, Pruteanu-Malinici, Reams, Mullarkey, & Broderick 2015 Adolescence is a critical period for intervention with at-risk youth to promote emotional well-being, deter problematic behavior, and prevent the onset of life-long challenges. Despite preliminary evidence supporting mindfulness interventions for at-risk youth, few studies have included implementation details or reported feasibility and acceptance in ethnically diverse at-risk adolescents in a school setting.We conducted a randomized pilot study of a school-based mindfulness program, Learning to BREATHE, with ethnically diverse at-risk adolescents. Twenty-seven students were randomly assigned to a mindfulness or substance abuse control class that occurred for 50 min, once a week, over one school semester. Adjustments were made to increase acceptability of the mindfulness class, including enhanced instructor engagement in school activities. Reductions in depression were seen for students in the mindfulness class compared to controls. Initially, students’ perceived credibility of the mindfulness class was lower than that of the substance abuse class. Over the semester, perceived credibility of the mindfulness class increased while that of the substance abuse class decreased. Qualitative acceptability measures revealed that the mindfulness class helped to relieve stress and that students favored continuing the class. This study provides practical knowledge about what works with this unique population in a school setting and offers suggestions for future studies. Link to Mindfulness


  • . Learning to BREATHE: An intervention to foster mindfulness in adolescence (2014)  Broderick, P.C. & Frank, J.L.New Directions in Youth Development, 142,31-44. Broderick & Frank, 2014

During adolescence, young people are traversing exciting and also challenging stages in their development. Mindfulness, if taught in a developmentally appropriate way, has the potential to be an asset in adolescents’ lives. Developmentally appropriate approaches of mindfulness intervention during adolescence need to consider adolescents’ social contexts (for example, school setting, peer group, family), their cognitive and emotional stages in development, and age-specific strength and vulnerabilities. This chapter puts mindfulness education into a developmental perspective, and presents the Learning to BREATHE program as a school-based universal intervention for adolescents. The authors describe developmental dimensions and themes of the program, and discuss common challenges of program implementation in schools. A case example of bringing the Learning to BREATHE program into the school context is provided.


  •  The Effectiveness of the Learning to BREATHE Program on Adolescent Emotion Regulation (2013). Metz, S.M., Frank, J.L., Riebel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R. & Broderick, P.C. Research in Human Development, 10:3, 252-272, DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2013.818488  Metz et al, 2013

This study assessed the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program, Learning to BREATHE, on adolescent emotion regulation. Participants included 216 regular education public high school students with pretest and posttest data participating in the program or instruction-as-usual comparison condition. Program participants reported statistically lower levels of perceived stress and psychosomatic complaints and higher levels of efficacy in affective regulation. Program participants also evidenced statistically larger gains in emotion regulation skills including emotional awareness, access to regulation strategies, and emotional clarity. These findings provide promising evidence of the effectiveness of Learning to BREATHE on the development of key social-emotional learning skills.


  •  The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Educator Stress and Well-Being: Results from a Pilot Study (2013). Frank, J.L., Reibel, D., Broderick, P.C., Cantrell, T. & Metz, S. Mindfulness DOI 10.1007/s12671-013-0246-2. Frank et al, 2013

Authors assessed the effectiveness of an adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on edu- cator stress and well-being. The study included 36 high school educators who participated in either an 8-week adapted MBSR program or a waitlist control group. Results suggested that educators who participated in MBSR reported significant gains in self-regulation, self-compassion, and mindfulness- related skills (observation, nonjudgment, and nonreacting). Significant improvements in multiple dimensions of sleep quality were found as well. These findings provide promising evidence of the effectiveness of MBSR as a strategy to pro- mote educator’s personal and professional well-being. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.


  •  Mindfulness for adolescents: A promising approach to supporting emotion regulation and preventing risky behavior (2012). Broderick, P. C. & Jennings, P. A. New Directions for Youth Development, Winter, Issue 136, 111-126.Broderick & Jennings, 2012

This article reviews the contextual and neuropsychological challenges of the adolescent period with particular attention to the role that universal prevention can play in moderating the harmful effects of stress. The centrality of emotion regulation skills to long-term health and wellness suggests their importance in prevention and intervention efforts for youth. Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective means of reducing stress and improving emotion balance in research with adults, although research on mindfulness with adolescents is limited. The authors present available data and describe one potentially effective program for adolescent mindfulness: Learning to BREATHE.


  • Handbook of Prosocial Education (2012), Philip M. Brown, Michael, W.Corrigan & Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro.Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. L2B Case StudyBroderick, Pinger & Worthen, 2012.

In this project, Drs. Richard Davidson and Lisa Flook from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds collaborated with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). MMSD enrolls approximately twenty-four thousand students of which 53 percent are minorities, 49 percent are low income, 15 percent are students with special education needs, and 17 percent are English language learners. The study assessed the impact of wellness-training programs for staff and students that were designed to increase attention, awareness, and stress management. MMSD administrators were particularly interested in these outcomes as one way to enhance teaching and learning. This chapter describes some aspects of the study.

Because data from this sample were not published elsewhere due to very small sample size and unmatched control group composition, results are suggestive at this point. However, improvements in social competence for students receiving L2B were noted on teacher reports once the program was completed. Performance for L2B students on a computerized task of spatial working memory (CANTAB) showed statistically significant improvements in strategy use and reductions in error rate. The L2B students also demonstrated less depressed and anxious symptoms and a greater internal locus of control after program completion (BASC-II). Fifth grade teachers reported that the students learned to pause, if only briefly, and “acknowledge their thoughts and feelings, something that set L2B apart from most social skills programs.” Teachers indicated that “many students are more focused and better able to deal with a stressful situation. The classroom is more relaxed and less stressful. Students became more aware of helpful and unhelpful thoughts and actions.”

And, ” the mindfulness lessons can have a strong impact on the classroom climate and individual students stress levels.”


  •  Learning to BREATHE: A pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion (2009) Broderick, P. C. & Metz, S. 35-46.Broderick_&_Metz_(2009)

This study reports the results of the first pilot trial of Learning to BREATHE, a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents created for a classroom setting. The primary goal of the program is to support the development of emotion regulation skills through the practice of mindfulness, which has been described as intentional, non-judgmental awareness of present-moment experience. The total class of 120 seniors (average age 17.4 years) from a private girls’ school participated as part of their health curriculum. Relative to controls, participants reported decreased negative affect and increased feelings of calmness, relaxation, and self-acceptance. Improvements in emotion regulation and decreases in tiredness and aches and pains were significant in the treatment group at the conclusion of the program. Qualitative feedback indicated a high degree of program satisfaction. The results suggest that mindfulness is a potentially promising method for enhancing adolescents’ emotion regulation and well-being.


Additional unpublished studies:

  •  Two unpublished dissertations by doctoral students from NYU piloted L2B in various settings. The first (Mai, 2010) took place in an afterschool program that serves approximately 30 academically low-performing 9th grade students in an inner-city school located in the south Bronx. The school population is 65% Latino and 35% African American. The neighborhood in which the school is located is in the poorest congressional district in the United States, with more than half of the population living below the poverty line. Participants who were interviewed generally reported a positive experience with the program, with all seven reporting that they would recommend the program to friends and continue with it if more sessions were offered. In interviews following the implementation, students shared that they were better ability to handle stress and reported improvements in emotional state, behavior, and social interactions. Finally, participants also reported academic and concentration improvements. These findings suggest that participants had a positive experience and perceived positive changes as a result of the mindfulness program.
  • The second dissertation study (Potek, 2011) included self-referring adolescents (N = 31, 16 males) who attended one of two high schools in either an urban (NY) or rural (WI) setting. The principal finding of the study was the statistically significant decrease in self-reported levels of anxiety for the students who completed L2B compared to a carefully matched control group. One explanation for this decrease in anxiety may stem from the program’s focus on training participants to become more in touch with and less reactive to thoughts and emotions, given that all types of anxiety are characterized by a negative and “reactive relationship to experience.”(Vollestad et al. 2011, p. 281). Because mindfulness is an experientially based training program that teaches a non-reactive and neutral approach to thoughts and emotions, it may be especially suited to helping reduce anxiety in young people.


If you have conducted a research project using L2B, please share it so it can be posted here. Thank you for sending it via info@learning2breathe.org.