Daniel Goleman and Richie Davidson, two eminent contemplative scientists, propose that with meditation practice there is a “deep path” that involves intensive practice for self-transformation and a “wide path” that involves less intensive practice to support mental health and emotional resilience. The wide path, which is meant to reach large numbers of people, is increasingly being delivered through digital meditation-based apps like the Healthy Minds Program (HMP), a freely available, highly-rated, and evidence-based meditation app. However, research on HMP and other similar apps shows that outside of research settings, many people never engage in the app beyond initial use and very few people sustainably engage to have the kind of expected effect on mental health demonstrated in research. The challenge is even greater for marginalized populations such as racially minoritized and non-college-educated people. If the wide path is to have a chance of reaching large numbers of people, additional research is needed to better understand what supports the sustained engagement of digital meditation-based apps. In our research, we will examine if we can predict which users of HMP are at risk of dropping out and what factors may support or inhibit sustained engagement.

Zishan Jiwani

University of Wisconsin-Madison