Study Shows Mindfulness-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Can Benefit People with Lupus
A type of psychotherapy known as acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, shows promise as an effective tool for people with lupus struggling with anxiety or depression. ACT teaches mindfulness skills to help people change the way they respond to negative thoughts and feelings.
To help with the management of stressors related to disease symptoms and to the COVID-19 pandemic, people with lupus were invited to participate in two virtual training sessions on ACT skills. Educational content tailored for people with lupus was delivered by an experienced clinical psychologist. A total of 21 people attended at least one of the two trainings and completed baseline and follow-up surveys.
Overall feedback on the program was positive, with many participants highlighting the mindfulness and goal-setting activities as especially valuable. Compared to individuals’ baseline survey responses, several measures of physical and mental health modestly improved after attending at least one training session, including:
- Anxiety • Depression
- Physical health
- Intimate relationships
Participants also shared suggestions for ways to improve or expand upon the program in the future, with some expressing an interest in additional instruction and mindfulness exercises, additional lupus-related content and greater program flexibility and availability to avoid scheduling conflicts.
“This study is the first to create an online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based program that is tailored to the needs of patients with lupus and serves as a complementary approach to support the management of symptoms and stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This work provides evidence that an ACT-based virtual skills training program is a feasible and acceptable intervention to support the well-being of patients with lupus. This program has the potential to improve psychological and quality of life outcomes for our patients with lupus, who demonstrate such incredible courage and determination every day, living with this challenging autoimmune disease. There is such an un-met need to develop holistic approaches to focus on the health and wellbeing of our lupus patients. We believe that this is just the first step in the development of a program that can truly be game-changing for patients with lupus across the country,” says Dr. Saira Sheikh, lead study author
Study co-author Saira Sheikh, MD, is a member of the Lupus Foundation of America’s (LFA) Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. The Council is made up of thought leaders from multiple medical specialty areas and plays a critical role in advancing lupus science and medicine.
Learn more about managing stress when you have lupus.
Interested in getting research like this straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our bimonthly Inside Lupus Research email for all the latest.