Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Intervention for Rural Lesbians: a Pilot Study

Jennifer Jabson, PhD, MPH
University of Tennessee
Award Year: 2016

Initial Abstract


Excess stress is the prevailing explanation for lesbian health disparities. Therefore, eliminating lesbian health disparities requires addressing stress. Rural lesbians may be at the greatest risk for excess stress due to socially conservative, geographically isolated, rural regions may put rural lesbians at even greater risk for negative effects from stress, than their urban counterparts. Pre-packaged, online mindfulness based stress reduction (OMBSR) interventions are successful at reducing stress in clinical and nonclinical samples and may be a solution for stress reduction among rural lesbians. However, the feasibility of OMBSR interventions delivered to rural lesbians has never been tested. It is possible that all or some aspects of OMBSR interventions may be unacceptable to rural lesbians. It is also possible that OMBSR need to be tailored to the unique needs and experiences of rural lesbians.


The main purpose of this project is to conduct an in-depth feasibility analysis of an 8-week OMBSR intervention delivered to rural lesbians residing in east Tennessee.


This is a mixed-method, in-depth feasibility study conducted with a convenience sample of rural lesbians.

Specific Aims.

Aim 1: Determine the acceptability of an OMBSR intervention among lesbians residing rural in east Tennessee using individual semi-structured interviews. Qualitative interviews will be conducted to determine acceptability and reactions to intervention half-way through the 8-week intervention and again postintervention.

Aim 2: Determine the amount and which aspects of OMBSR intervention can be delivered to lesbians residing in rural east Tennessee. This will be accomplished by collecting participant’s amount of weekly intervention activity and feedback about intervention components with weekly activity/feedback logs.

Aim 3: Determine how much an OMBSR intervention can reduce stress among lesbians residing in rural east Tennessee. This will be determined by measuring salivary cortisol, perceived stress measures, and heterosexist daily experiences pre-/ post-intervention and at 4-week follow-up. Significance to Lesbian Community. Stress is a significant problem for rural lesbians; excess stress is thought to drive lesbian health disparities. High impact solutions that can penetrate the geographic and social barriers experienced by rural lesbians are desperately needed. Online mindfulness based stress reduction programs represent a promising solution; however intervention feasibility with rural lesbians is unknown. The feasibility study proposed in this application provides a necessary first step in the long-range goal to adapt and fully test in a randomized control trial, an online mindfulness based stress reduction program for rural lesbians. Providing an efficacious, tailored, stress reduction program to rural lesbians could reduce stress by more than 10%. Over time 10% reductions in stress could improve health and reduce the health disparities documented among rural lesbians.

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