Early life adversity (ELA) confers lifelong health risk in the 25% of youth who are exposed to trauma in childhood. ELA is thought to program biological adaptations to stress that contribute to inflammatory disease risk. Interventions to reduce this health risk are lacking. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been effective for reducing stress and improving markers of physical health; although MBIs also show promise for improving mental health among adults exposed to ELA, whether these effects extend to markers of physical health risk remains unknown. This study aims to evaluate whether a mobile MBI (vs. control intervention) can improve daily life stress and inflammatory markers in a sample of young adults with a history of ELA. Participants ages 18–29 years with a history of ELA (n = 80) will be recruited from the community and randomly assigned to a 14-lesson remote MBI or matched control intervention. They will provide daily life stress ratings, continuous physiological data, and blood samples at baseline, post-intervention, and one-month follow-up to evaluate MBI-related changes in subjective and biological stress processes and inflammatory biomarkers. This study will begin to establish an evidence base for adapting contemplative practices to address health risk among vulnerable populations underrepresented in science.

Emily Lindsay

University of Pittsburgh