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 Here are links for several peer-reviewed, published and unpublished research studies that describe results of L2B interventions.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.

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

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.

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

Abstract:  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

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

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

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

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

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

8) Broderick, P. C. & Metz, S. (2009). Learning to BREATHE: A pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 2, pp. 35-46.Broderick_&_Metz_(2009)

9) Another pilot study conducted through the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds was implemented in two fifth grade classes in public schools in Madison, WI (N = 28). A small control group (N = 24) received the program in sixth grade. Students in one of the L2B classes were primarily Spanish-speaking. 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.”

  • See the mindfulness mosaic from the 5th graders in Madison, WI at http://www.facebook.com/investigatinghealthyminds. The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds has piloted L2B for 5th and 6th grade students. Links to the videos from “Morning with the Experts” can be found on their website. CIHM Panel link here: 2011 Events Archive.

10) 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.