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Table 2 General characteristics of eligible studies

From: The effects of meditation on individuals facing loneliness: a scoping review

Author and year Title Country Study setting study design Population and sample size Loneliness definition Meditation type Duration of meditation Was there a follow-up If yes, duration of follow-up
Brooker et al. 2020 [22] A feasibility and acceptability study of an adaptation of the Mindful Self-Compassion program for adult cancer patients Australia Education and research institute building Feasibility and acceptability study Patients who had received a diagnosis of non-advanced cancer in the previous 6 months—5 years, who resided within 60 km of the intervention venue, were fluent in English, anticipated that they could attend at least four of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) group sessions, and were able to provide written informed consent; ss: n = 30 at the beginning of the study, n = 27 at conclusion No definition provided Written reflective practices and guided meditations supported by audio-recordings made available by the program developers + daily homework component of approximately 20 min of both informal and formal self-compassion and mindfulness practices (i.e. core meditation, loving-kindness, opening meditation, meditation: compassion for self and others). Group-based and instructor-led MSC program adapted to cancer patients, face-to-face At least 4 sessions of 105 min, delivered weekly. Therefore 4 weeks. Minimum attendance required of 4 sessions out of 8, so could have gone up to 8 weeks No Not applicable
Rodriguez-Romero et al. 2020 [23] Intervention to reduce perceived loneliness in community-dwelling older people Spain Urban primary healthcare center Randomized clinical trial without blind evaluation Community dwellers with moderate to severe perceived loneliness (according to UCLA Scale) and moderate autonomy or dependence (according to Barthel Index); ss: n = 55 Looked at perceived loneliness. "Loneliness, a subjective phenomenon derived from the discrepancy between the level of social contact achieved and that desired, is described as a painful experience accompanied by negative feelings." Group-based mindfulness session/workshop to reduce or minimize stress (face-to-face) 18 sessions over 6 months No Not applicable
Lee et al. 2019 [24] Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes South Korea Public health center Pilot non-blinded randomized control trial (RCT) 48 patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes; 24 to Brain Education-based Meditation (BEM) and 24 to health education—at completion there were 14 in control and 21 in BEM; ss: total of 35 post-intervention No definition provided Instructor-led BEM, which is a technique known to change brain structure, psychology, and physiology of healthy adult participants. Group classes 8 weeks No Not applicable
Lindsay et al. 2019 [25] Mindfulness training reduces loneliness and increases social contact in a randomized controlled trial United States Smart-phone delivered intervention (remote, at-home study activities) Three-arm randomized controlled dismantling trial 153 healthy but stressed English-speaking adults who owned smartphones No definition provided Smartphone based lessons consisting of training in either: monitoring and acceptance, monitoring only, or active control training. Lessons consisted on 20-min of audio in addition to brief homework practice 2 weeks No Not applicable
Pandya 2019 [26] Meditation program mitigates loneliness and promotes wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment among retired older adults: A two-year follow-up study in four South Asian cities India, Nepal, Myanamar, Sri Lanka Voluntary agencies located in each of the 4 South Asian cities RCT Retired older adult members (retired for 2–5 years at start of study); ss: Post-test, 166 remained with intervention and 157 with control (n = 323) Loneliness is the perceived absence of positive social relationships and intimate relationships, varies based on personal and contextual determinants and is a negative emotional experience. Loneliness is an outcome of the subjective, cognitive evaluation of there being a mismatch between the quality and quantity of existing relationships on the one hand, and relationship standards on the other Customized meditation program (instructor-led and in groups), the key features of which were: (i) postures interspersed with relaxation, (ii) slowness in movements and, (iii) inner watchful awareness. This customized meditation program comprised a 45-min guided lesson conducted once a week by instructors and the same was to be practiced at home by the participants once a week prior to the next class (individually) 2 years No Not applicable
Mascaro et al. 2018 [27] Meditation buffers medical student compassion from the deleterious effects of depression United States Medical school campus Feasibility study with randomized single-blind wait-list controlled trial 11 in wait-list and 21 in CBCT = 32 completed study (59 initially enrolled) No definition provided but it is specified to be experienced by medical students experiencing burnout CBCT (consisting of in-person instructor-led group classes in addition to at-home practice) 10 weeks No Not applicable
Kok et al. 2017 [28] Effects of contemplative dyads on engagement and perceived social connectedness over 9 months of mental training Germany Not specified (both online and in-person interventions took place) RCT 242 healthy participants after excluding participants with not applicable data A perceived lack of social connectedness Secularized classical solitary meditation training modules made up of: breathing meditation and body scan (the presence module), loving-kindness meditation and affect dyad (the affect module), and observing-thoughts meditation and perspective dyad (the perspective module) on website and phone app—consisting of an in-person 3-day retreat, online individual modules and guided meditations, and online 2-person dyad training 9-month open-label efficacy trial of three, 3-month secularized mental training modules No Not applicable
Tkatch et al. 2017 [29] A pilot online mindfulness intervention to decrease caregiver burden and improve psychological well-being United States 2 local community centers Pilot study examining feasibility of intervention Community-dwelling older adult caregivers (n = 40) No definition provided Online mindfulness intervention; combination of education, mindfulness meditation, and self-care, which primarily focused on self-compassion. Eight modules were delivered twice weekly online, utilizing phone and web-interface to an online learning platform that contained session materials, downloadable brief meditation practices, access to short learning videos, and other support tools. 3 of the modules were also delivered in-person to provide alternative touch points if participants were able to attend and preferred this method 8 weeks No Not applicable
Dodds et al. 2015 [30] Feasibility of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) for breast cancer survivors: a randomized, wait list controlled pilot study United States Recruitment from the University of Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center; location of classes not specified. At home and in-class sessions occurred (unclear if class is in-person or online) Feasibility study with a randomized wait list control trial design Women with a history of breast cancer treated with adjuvant systemic chemotherapy within the past 10 years (with no current chemotherapy other than prophylactic use of a selective estrogen-receptor modulator); ss: n = 33 No definition provided CBCT with training in concentrative and mindfulness practices consisting of in-person instructor-led group classes in addition to at-home practice consisting of guided meditations 8 consecutive weeks of classes followed by a "booster" class at week 12 (4 weeks later) Yes 1 month
Samhkaniyan et al. 2015 [31] The effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on quality of life and loneliness of women with HIV Iran Not specified Quasi-experimental model with pretest–posttest and check team Women who were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive (n = 24)—12 in control and 12 in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) The difference between current and ideal situations in achieving communication with others and society MBCT 8 weeks No Not applicable
Black et al. 2014 [32] Tai chi meditation effects on nuclear factor-kB signaling in lonely older adults: A randomized controlled trial United States Not specified RCT Lonely older adults (naïve to tai chi and scored 40 + on UCLA Loneliness scale); ss: 26 randomized (split evenly), 22 completed postintervention visit—10 in Tai Chi Chih (TCC), 12 in stress and health education (SHE) No definition provided Group-based tai chi meditation—meditation technique, TCC consisted of 20 guided meditative movements under the instruction of a certified teacher 12 weeks group-based program delivered weekly in 2-h sessions No Not applicable
Creswell et al. 2012 [9] Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults: A small randomized controlled trial United States Not specified RCT 40 healthy older adults interested in learning mindfulness meditation techniques, recruited via newspaper advertisement A state of social distress that arises when there is a discrepancy between one’s desired and actual social relationships Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which is a mindfulness meditation intervention. During each group session, an instructor led participants in guided mindfulness meditation exercises, mindful yoga and stretching, and group discussions with the intent to foster mindful awareness of one’s moment-to-moment experience. This is done in addition to a day-long retreat and at-home mindfulness practice 8 weeks No Not applicable
Jazaieri et al. 2012 [33] A randomized trial of MSBR versus aerobic exercise for social anxiety disorder United States Eight healthcare settings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area (specifics about the types of healthcare settings are not available) RCT Adults who met DSM-IV criteria for generalized social anxiety disorder (n = 56 in intervention group), n = 48 healthy adults in control group No definition provided Standard MBSR program, which comprises eight, weekly 2.5-h group classes, a 1-day meditation retreat, and daily home practice. Participants were trained in formal meditation practice (i.e., breath focus, body scan, open monitoring), brief informal practice, and Hatha yoga. Forms to monitor daily meditation and yoga practice were collected each week (in-person) 8 weeks Yes 3 months
  1. BEM brain education-based meditation, CBCT cognitively based compassion training, HIV human immunodeficiency virus, MBCT mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, MBSR mindfulness-based stress reduction training, MSC mindful self-compassion, RCT randomized control trial, SHE stress and health education, SS sample size, TCC Tai Chi Chih