Self-Assessed Time Span of Focused Attention During a Breath Focus Test Task as a Measure of Mindfulness: A Preliminary Evaluation
Introduction: An easy task-based measure of mindfulness that can be self-administered in a daily life setting is still not available. We aimed to perform a preliminary evaluation of the Breath Focus Test Task to measure mindfulness. Methods: A quantitative observational study was performed among medical students. Each participant was instructed to focus attention to the participant’s own breath and count each breath with awareness until the participant noticed mind wandering. The last breath count attended before losing awareness of the task (breath count with awareness) was recalled and self-reported by each participant. Three such breath focus sessions were planned for each participant. The mean ‘breath count with awareness’ of each participant was then converted to time span of focused attention using the rate of breathing. This time span of focused attention was reported as the proposed measure of mindfulness. Each participant also completed the 'Mindful Attention Awareness Scale questionnaire'. Results: Out of 101 participants, 76 completed at least one breath focus session satisfactorily. The median time span of focused attention was three minutes (first quartile = 1.9 minutes and third quartile = 4.5 minutes). The Mindful Attention Awareness Score was 3.9 (SD = 0.6). The results did not show a significant correlation between the time span of focused attention and the Mindful Attention Awareness Score (r s = 0.04, p = 0.74). Conclusion: This study shows the feasibility of the proposed test task. However, the measure obtained from the current form did not correlate with the Mindful Attention Awareness Score.
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