Year of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Community Health Option)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Community Health & Prevention Sciences

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Dr. Laura Dybdal

Commitee Members

Dr. Brent Ruby Dr. Daniel Lee Bradley Watson

Keywords

active duty, veterans, mobile, mindfulness, applications, military

Publisher

University of Montana

Subject Categories

Telemedicine

Abstract

Introduction: Research has shown that mindfulness exercises are useful and an effective alternative to traditional health care options for active duty service members and veterans (Jha, Morrison, Dainer-Best, Parker, Rostrup, & Stanley, 2015; Johnson, Thom, Stanley, Haase, Simmons, Shih, Thompson, Potterat, Minor, & Paulus 2014; Polusny, et al., 2015; Reber, Boden, Mitragotri, Alvarez, Gross, & Bonn-Miller, 2013; Vujanovic, Niles, Pietrefesa, Schmertz, & Potter, 2013; Wisner, et al., 2015). However, studies have concurrently shown that there are barriers to participation and retention for mindfulness-based programs in this population (Gallegos, Cross, & Pigeon, 2015; Martinez, Kearney, Simpson, Felleman, Bernardi, & Sayre, 2015; Michener, 2015; Stanley, 2010). An alternative to traditional on-site class participation is the use of mobile applications that facilitate mindfulness. It is important to consider the workable and practical aspects of mobile mindfulness applications for active duty service members and veterans as studies have shown the feasibility of these applications among civilian populations (Carissoli, Villani, & Riva, 2015; Chittaro & Vianello, 2014). However, sufficient research focusing on the feasibility of using mobile mindfulness applications is lacking in the military population. Furthermore, “proof of concept” research is lacking that illustrates the demographic and descriptive characteristics of who, when, and how frequently these types of mobile mindfulness applications are used among active duty service members and veterans and whether they are a viable alternative.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gather descriptive data regarding mobile mindfulness application use in active duty service members and veterans in order to determine feasibility of mobile mindfulness applications in these populations.

Methods: This study utilized a descriptive research design using cross sectional data to investigate and summarize frequency of mobile mindfulness application use and preference for specific mobile mindfulness applications among active duty service members and veterans. Additionaly, this study describes participant levels of mindfulness, stress, sleep and PTSD with mobile application use among active duty service members and veterans.

Results: 52 participants participated in part one of the study, and 33 participated in part two. Results showed that participants reported downloading the Mindfulness Coach application most frequently as well as using it most frequently throughout a two-week period. Sixty-six percent of the participants downloaded at least one of the proposed applications, and 45% used the applications anywhere between 2 and 14 times over a two-week period. Psychometric assessment results indicated PTSD and Stress had a positive relationship indicating that the higher levels of stress an individual perceived, the more symptoms reported on the PTSD checklist. Whereas, PTSD and mindfulness had a strong negative relationship indicating that those who had higher levels of mindfulness were less likely to be stressed and suffer from symptoms of PTSD.

Conclusions: The results of this study are promising as they provide preliminary findings into the feasibility of mobile mindfulness application use among active duty service members and veterans. Most promising are findings showing active duty service members and veterans are receptive to mindfulness activities facilitated through an application. Subsequently, there are still some barriers to mobile mindfulness application use among the military including application appearance, ease of use, and need for education regarding the benefits of mobile mindfulness in these populations. Further research is needed to determine what types of mobile mindfulness applications and components would be most beneficial in improving health outcomes in active duty service members and veterans.

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